man sitting with cellphone on motorbike at night
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Ivan Nesterov, a well-built fitness trainer, came back to Russia six months after fleeing the mobilization that propped up Russian forces fighting in Ukraine last fall.

Nesterov is one of the hundreds of thousands of Russian men who left the country to avoid being sent to the front lines. He and many others have now returned, despite the lingering threat of a new draft.

"When I landed back in Moscow, I felt incredibly relieved, no matter what the consequences might be," the 35-year-old told AFP.

He left a few days after the Kremlin announced a mobilization in September last year, "feeling a mix of emotions including panic."

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