Russia and Ukraine: A mixture of joy and fear prevails in Cherson after the liberation from Russian troops

Russia and Ukraine: A mixture of joy and fear prevails in Cherson after the liberation from Russian troops
Russia and Ukraine: A mixture of joy and fear prevails in Cherson after the liberation from Russian troops

Russia and Ukraine: A mixture of joy and fear prevails in Cherson after the liberation from Russian troops

  • Jeremy Bowen
  • BBC – Kherson, Ukraine

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Ukrainian flags have been fanning out in Kherson since its liberation

Last Friday, Ukrainian forces managed to enter Kherson for the first time since it was occupied by Russian forces last March.

Last month Moscow declared the city as the Russian administrative capital of the Kherson region after four Ukrainian regions were illegally annexed to the Russian Federation last September.

At the time, Russia claimed that almost the entire population of the city supported the move. But in the liberated southern part of the city, the BBC found that the people of that city breathed a sigh of relief – after several months of succumbing to the terror of the occupying forces – and proud that they could once again hoist the Ukrainian flag without fear.

A citizen carrying a trumpet and blowing it on the highest podium stood in front of the government buildings complex in downtown Kherson and the national anthem of Ukraine was played, and he was joined by passers-by, individuals and groups singing the words of the anthem sang.

Amid a large crowd, some cried while Ukrainian flags fluttered everywhere, hanging from some cars and painting their colors on faces. Even dogs wear Ukrainian flags in collars around their necks.

The reunions, some joyful and festive, others tearful, spread across the liberated city as people went out to see old friends they hadn’t seen in months.

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Financial markets trader Tatiana said her son had to flee the country for fear of repression by Russian forces

Yuri, a Kherson resident, said he spent about 200 days in his home escaping the brutality of Russian forces.

Tatiana, a financial markets trader, said the first Sunday she spent without Russian forces was the best Sunday ever.

But as she spoke, she whipped out her smartphone and snapped open a picture of her son, who appears to be around 20 years old, after Russian forces arrested him and beat him for nine days. When he was released from the hospital, he managed to escape from Ukraine. Tatiana confirmed that she burned all documents and deleted all photos.

It seems that the feeling that dominates people here is patriotism and relief, but also caution on the scene with fear of what is to come.

And the people of Kherson were and are so close to the Russian armed forces for so long that they could not have any illusions about the difficulties they might face in the future.

From time to time explosions can be heard from the outskirts of the city, some from the bombing raids, others from the work of Ukrainian engineers detonating mines and booby traps left behind by Russian forces.

In the market, some voices murmured about Russian collaborators. The people here want justice and are waiting for the police and investigators to arrive in Kherson and start work.

However, one of the city’s residents pointed out that the lack of justice could lead people to take their rights into their own hands.


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