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Kremlin denies that mobilization decree allows a million to be enlisted

LONDON — The Kremlin on Thursday denied a report by the independent Novaya Gazeta Europe that an undisclosed clause in President Vladimir Putin's decree on partial mobilization provided for one million reservists to be enlisted to fight in Ukraine.

The state-owned news agency RIA cited Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov as calling the report "a lie."

Novaya Gazeta Europe, a spin-off of the now-shuttered Russian investigative newspaper, cited an unnamed source in the presidential administration as saying that point 7 of the decree, which was withheld as "For official use" in Wednesday's public release, allowed the armed forces to draft a million personnel.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Wednesday that around 300,000 reservists would be called up, and that they would be specialists with combat experience, although no figure appeared in the decree as published on official websites.

He said Russia had 25 million reservists at its disposal in all.

All Russian men are required to do a year's military service between the ages of 18 and 27, although university students may instead receive instruction from a military faculty alongside their chosen studies. 

Since Putin announced the first large-scale mobilization in Russia since World War Two, flights to leave the country have sold out and protests have been held—and swiftly broken up by police—in cities across Russia.

Prices for air tickets out of Moscow have soared above $5,000 for one-way tickets to the nearest foreign locations, with most air tickets sold out completely for the coming days.

Social media groups popped up with advice on how to get out of Russia while one news site in Russian gave a list of "where to run away right now from Russia." There were long tailbacks at border crossings with Georgia and Finland. 

The OVD-Info rights group, meanwhile, said on Thursday that some Russians detained while protesting the mobilization have been handed draft papers while in custody.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov declined to deny reports that some protesters had been given draft papers, saying only: "This is not against the law." The police could not be reached for immediate comment, nor could the draft office. — Reuters