Russian President Vladimir Putin was supposed to give a speech to the nation on Tuesday night.
Google searches for "How to leave Russia" spiked in Russia in the time leading up to his expected address.
Putin was expected to announce "martial law" and "mobilization," the latter of which he did Wednesday morning.
In the time leading up to Russian President Vladimir Putin's expected speech to the nation on Tuesday night, Google searches for the Russian phrase "How to leave Russia" spiked in the country.
The peak for searches was around 6 pm Moscow time, according to Telegram channel Mozhem Obyasnit, which first flagged the increase.
Putin was supposed to make his address Tuesday night, but moved it to Wednesday morning. He then announced a partial military mobilization of 300,000 reservists that would be drafted to fight in Ukraine.
Before his expected speech on Tuesday, Russian lawmakers had passed legislation around "martial law" and "mobilization," that likely prompted the Google searches. Google is only the second most-visited search engine in Russia behind Yandex.
In a tweet referring to the spike in Google searches, Ukraine's Ministry of Defense tweeted, "The russians were given 12 hours of rest, so Google could answer all the questions, including the question of what is the average life expectancy of a russian soldier in Ukraine."
—Defense of Ukraine (@DefenceU) September 20, 2022
Russia-backed officials in occupied Ukrainian territory are also planning "referendums" for the territory to be annexed by Russia, which further led people to believe Putin was planning to escalate the war, Latvian news website Meduza reported.
The same search for how to leave Russia spiked in the country in late February and early March as well, after Russia invaded Ukraine.
In addition to the spike in Google searches for how to leave the country, demand for plane tickets out of the country have spiked too. Plane tickets to places like Istanbul and Yerevan, which are in Turkey and Armenia, respectively, have sold out. Turkey and Armenia are some of the few countries that allow Russians to enter without having a visa.
According to Mozhem Obyasnit, most of the searches for leaving Russia were "of interest to the residents of the Khabarovsk Territory" that borders China.
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