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‘Some of us are killed, some disappear’: Russian-occupied Kherson’s resident

“They [Russians] kidnap people according to the lists they carry with them. Some of these people disappear, some are killed. They occupy our houses, businesses and do what they want in the city,” a 23-year-old resident of Kherson, southern Ukraine, who wished to remain anonymous for security reasons, told the Polish Press Agency (PAP), describing the current situation in the occupied city.

The Russians took control of the city in early March and currently it is the largest city occupied by the aggressor after the invasion began on February 24.

“I remember well the moment when they entered the city. I hid in the house and listened to the fighting. It lasted for several days, the boys from the territorial defence [forces] tried to defend us, but the Russians kept coming,” the woman recounted.

This is how people try to leave the occupied Kherson region. Hundreds of cars in line. Previously, they had to wait hours in the fields for permission to leave, now they have to wait for several days, because the occupiers release no more than 80 cars per day and only once a day.

— Oksana Hliebushkina (@hliebushkina) July 10, 2022

“In the beginning we very rarely left the house – only to get food. We did not actually see them. Now they are everywhere, at every step – the hardest thing is that I keep seeing their faces, but I cannot do anything,” she said about the Russians occupying the city. Asked who the occupiers were, the 23-year-old replied that “in the beginning they were mostly soldiers, today they are something like the Federal Security Service.”

“Their attitude towards the residents can neither be determined nor predicted. Sometimes they behave normally, and sometimes – if things do not go their way – they can, at best, beat someone up, at worst, take them to a place from which no one has yet returned,” the woman said.

She also drew attention to the particularly difficult position of pensioners remaining in Kherson. “The occupation authorities are doing everything to ensure that the oldest people do not receive their pensions. They want to force them to accept Russian passports, Russian currency and Russian ‘order’. The young are grabbing any job they can find, but what are the seniors supposed to do?”

Powerful series of explosions in Kherson, just now. Heard all over town.
Approximate map where the cloud of smoke rose.

— Special Kherson Cat 🐈🇺🇦 (@bayraktar_1love) July 10, 2022

Responding to a question about the state of shop supplies, the Kherson resident pointed out that “most of the trade is done at the markets”. As she explained, “people bring fruits and vegetables from the surrounding orchards and farms and then trade them in their cars”. Importing Ukrainian products to the city is almost impossible as Russia only supplies it with its own.

🇺🇦Police investigates into the purposeful destruction of crops in Kherson Oblast by the Russian military

Daily large-scale fires caused by Russian incendiary munitions destroy 100s ha of wheat, barley, and other grain crops, and forests.

— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) July 9, 2022

According to the 23-year-old, “we also have a huge problem with communication – Ukrainian telephone networks do not work, people line up at points where they can catch Wi-Fi and from there, crammed together, try to get in touch with their loved ones.”

The PAP interviewee also pointed out that armed resistance cells are active in the city and that the residents themselves have no doubts about Kherson’s Ukrainian future. “There are some groups, organised from below, who are hunting for collaborators. They have already killed a few of them, they will kill the rest soon – everyone will get what they deserve,” the woman said. “Of course, the occupiers set traps for the partisans, they search cars, they have lists of people they are looking for.”

“I myself try not to participate in what the Russians are trying to organise here. I do not buy their products, I will not change my passport, I will not buy a Russian phone number. We used to organise demonstrations, we wanted to make it clear that they are not welcome here, but they just began to assault us,” she concluded.

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