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Search requests for how to break limbs ‘painlessly’ trend from Russia

Flights from Russia quickly sold out after the announcement of the country’s first military mobilization since World War II

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According to media reports, after Russian President Vladimir Putin’s mass mobilization order, Google saw a spike in searches for how to break a limb painlessly.

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In Russia’s first mobilization since World War II, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a television interview that 300,000 reservists with relevant combat and service experience would initially be mobilized. According to Shoigu, the main task of the reservists will be to reinforce the front line in Ukraine, which is currently more than 1,000 kilometers long.

“Of course, what is behind that line needs to be strengthened, the territory needs to be controlled,” Shoigu told state television. Only those with relevant combat and service experience would be mobilized, he noted.

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Shortly after the order, Russian-language social networks were flooded with advice on how to avoid mobilization or get out of the country, the AP reported.

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Google searches for “how to break your arm at home” (как сломать руку в домашних условиях) have spiked since Putin issued a decree for a “partial mobilization” at 2 a.m. ET Wednesday, prompting speculation that the Russians are taking drastic measures to avoid conscription.

Similarly, according to Google Trends data, the question of how to break a leg (как сломать ногу) has also risen.

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Searches for “how to break your arm at home”, “how to break your arm without pain”, “how to break your leg”, “registration certificate” and “how to break your arm without pain” are trending on Google . Photo by Google Trends

Google ranks searches from 0 to 100, where 100 means the term is a top search, while 0 means the topic has the least interest or there isn’t enough data to quantify it. Both search terms have increased to 100 at some point since Putin issued his decree earlier this morning.

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Reports of the spread of panic among Russians have also swept social media. Anti-war groups said the limited plane tickets from Russia reached huge prices due to high demand – and quickly became unavailable.

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Some posts have claimed that people have already been turned away from Russia’s land border with Georgia and that the Russian state railway company’s website has collapsed because too many people were looking for ways out of the country. According to isitdownrightnow.com, as of Wednesday afternoon, the Russian railways website rzd.ru was still unavailable.

A Serbia-based group called Russians, Belarusians, Ukrainians and Serbs Together Against the War tweeted that no flights from Russia to Belgrade would be available until mid-October.

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Police officers arrest a man in Novosibirsk on September 21, 2022 after calling for protests against partial mobilization.
Police officers arrest a man in Novosibirsk on September 21, 2022 after calling for protests against partial mobilization. Photo by ROSTISLAV NETISOV /AFP via Getty Images

According to the group from Belgrade, flights to Turkey, Georgia or Armenia were also sold out.

“All Russians who wanted to go to war have already left,” the group said. “Nobody else wants to go there!”

Serbia’s capital, Belgrade, has become a popular destination for Russians during the war. Up to 50,000 Russians have fled to Serbia since Russia invaded Ukraine and opened many shops, especially in the IT sector.

Russians do not need a visa to enter Serbia, which is the only European country not to join Western sanctions against Russia over its aggression in Ukraine.

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Search interest in “How to Avoid Mobilizations”. Photo by Google Trends

Avtozak, a Russian group that monitors political demonstrations and arrests, reported that some Russians were arrested during anti-mobilization demonstrations in several cities.

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In his televised address, Putin effectively announced plans to annex four Ukrainian regions and said Moscow will facilitate referendums in Ukraine’s Luhansk, Donetsk, Zaporizhia and Kherson regions on joining Russia. A day earlier, Russian-appointed officials in the four regions announced plans for such polls this week. The West has denounced these referendums as hypocrisy.

Putin added without evidence that officials in NATO countries have threatened to use nuclear weapons against Russia, but that Russia “also has various means of destruction.”

“If the territorial integrity of our country is threatened, we will certainly use all means at our disposal to protect Russia and our people. It’s not a bluff,” he said.

Russia also said that career soldiers’ contracts are expected to be extended indefinitely.

Additional coverage from AP, Reuters

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