Today marks the two-week line in the processing of my visa. It's supposed to take somewhere between two and four weeks in total. Right now, I'm on a countdown.
Things are looking more and more in favor of me leaving Russia for good in the near future. Putin et al. are doing country-wide damage control when it comes to poorly-performed conscription, which means they're relaxing the measures taken to conscript men of age further. The truly-massive exodus of the most-potent demographic – as far as productivity in the economy goes – seems to have done well to make whoever's in charge of the conscription policies to take a step back and re-evaluate the situation.
I still expect to be at least interrogated at the border crossing (on the Russian side), but I think I can manage my way out. As far as I'm aware, things are on my side:
One: Russia's managed to conscript about 200k already, out of the 300k they said they intended to. (Speculation abound that 1M was the ultimate goal. Multiple reliable opposition sources in Russia reported that much.) This apparent satisfaction of goals, coupled with the mentioned backlash, is likely to see the chase for men of age relax, though not drop completely.
Two: I'm "allowed" for service only "in limited capacity" due to health issues. This is not the demographic Russia is looking for right now. Again, the supply of healthy men of age seems to indicate that Putin will likely meet his conscription goals, so there's no scraping down the barrel in sight for the near future.
Three: as I mentioned in the last Pubski, the Russian Ministry of Defense is in on damage control, having clarified that there are no laws in action that could prevent men of age from leaving based simply on their age and military status. This is, they clarify, a "limited conscription", after all: it is, then, not a full one, which does not trigger the legal retention mechanisms.
It seems to be safe to go outside in Saint Petersburg. Men of all ages do roam freely here. Politically, it's a safe haven: Putin knows people would rebel hard here if their lives start to get touched by the war too much. They're protested here already, and if conscription ramps up, there will be more. I still don't take walks like I used to, out of abundance of caution. I pop into the shop and go back unless it's very late at night.
All in all, I remain optimistic while keeping my head on a swivel.