Kremlin: reports of exodus of fighting-age men are exaggerated

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Pedestrians cross a street near a board with a portrait of a Russian service member in Saint Petersburg

MOSCOW (Reuters) - The Kremlin on Thursday said reports of an exodus of draft-age men from Russia after President Vladimir Putin's announcement of a partial mobilisation were "exaggerated".

Since President Putin declared a partial mobilisation of reservists on Wednesday, flights for the coming days from Russia to nearby countries including Armenia, Turkey, Azerbaijan and Serbia have sold out entirely. Lengthy tailbacks were reported at Russia's borders with Georgia, Finland, Kazakhstan and Mongolia.

In a call with reporters, Peskov said: "The information about the hype at airports and so on is very much exaggerated ... There is a lot of fake information about this. We need to be very careful about this so as not to become a victim of false information on this matter."

Peskov declined to deny Russian media reports that some anti-mobilisation protesters detained on Wednesday night had been given draft papers, saying: "This is not against the law."

The OVD-Info rights group reported that over 1,300 people in 38 cities had been detained on Wednesday for protesting against the mobilisation decree.

The Russian news site Mediazona reported that at least three men detained in Moscow had been given mobilisation summons while at police stations.

Asked whether the campaign in Ukraine, which Moscow calls a "special military operation", was still going to plan despite the mobilisation, Peskov said:

"The special operation began to fulfil goals in Ukraine. Now we are de facto confronted by the NATO bloc with all their logistical capabilities. This has led to this necessary step."

However, he denied that the conflict in Ukraine could be termed a war, insisting on the description that the Kremlin has used since ordering troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

(Reporting by Reuters; Editing by Kevin Liffey)