Kherson in horror: read the truth about life under russian occupation

Do you want to know the truth about Kherson? EMPR not publishing the author’s name for obvious reasons.

Read it firsthand!

Reading the second paragraph, we were crying out loud. The postscript caused hysteria. And don’t you dare tell us, “well, they are not shooting there”!

1. The region was occupied very quickly. The opportunity to leave had disappeared as rapidly too. First, the road to Mykolaiv through Posad-Pokrovsk was cut off, then through Stanislav and Oleksandrivka. After that, they cut off the roads towards Kryvyi Rih, the last one was through the notorious Davydiv Brid, where a convoy of civilian cars was shelled from “Hail”. My colleague was in that convoy. She and her little daughter managed to survive, but she had not said a word about what happened there. It is now possible to go to the Baltic countries but only through Crimea and the territory of the Russian Federation. That’s at least $600 and a 4-day trip by bus. This is unreal for an average family.

There are a lot of Russians in the region, and they feel at home. Terrible things happen in the villages. The doctors entered Osokorivka (it is currently liberated if I’m not mistaken) along with the military and stated that there had been mass rapes. According to one of the victims, age and appearance did not matter; the invaders raped even very elderly women.

Oleksandrivka, a beautiful village on the estuary shores, no longer exists; it was destroyed to the ground. The head of the Stanislav community and the residents are still engaged in evacuating and burying the bodies of the dead. They are doing this at their own risk because the shelling does not stop.

The famous Chornobaivka … the “series”, joked about by different experts with enthusiasm and humor. It was neither funny nor joyful for us because there are people there. This is a big village that pays for each episode of this infernal series with human lives. There are dead and wounded, children and adults. There are streets where all the houses are destroyed.

Bilozirka. Tanks are standing between the houses and the shots make the ground shake. There are many villages like this in the region, and each one has its own horror story written by volley fire systems “Hail”.

Kherson. My beautiful southern city, my home. The tragedy of the occupation of Kherson began immediately and bloodily with the battle for Antoniv bridge. The suburbs of Kherson, Antonivka, and Kindiyka, were under fire for several days, and then several more days were spent negotiating the evacuation of the residents who survived the shelling.  People fled in what they were and how they could. My acquaintance was among them, along with the family they fled the shelling because there was only one wall left of their house. Since then, loud sounds make him faint.

And then tanks entered the city. That is when the tragedy of Lilac Park happened. Residents attacked tanks with Molotov cocktails. They were torn apart in seconds with a large-caliber machine gun. For a long time, the Russians did not allow anyone to pick up the bodies. A local priest, Father Serhiy Chudynovych, along with other men, buried the heroes in a mass grave right there in the park at their own peril. In the first days of the occupation of Kherson, houses on Tarle and Perekopskaya streets were fired upon with heavy weapons. They said it was revenge for the resistance in Lilac Park.

At the end of April, the connection was cut off in the region. I will never forget the horrible feeling of not being able to call my family and find out if they were alive. We went to the outskirts of the city because that’s where we could access a mobile cellular data network from the Mykolaiv region. Then the connection was restored but only to be turned off again in a month, and it has been gone since. No connection at all, nowhere, even landlines do not work.

Only those who had connected to small local providers before the war have Internet. People delete their wi-fi passwords so that neighbors could also use their Internet. All institutions and establishments that have an Internet connection, got rid of passwords and made it known on social networks so that people could get in touch with relatives.

At Suvorova Street, there is a place with a weak lifecell connection. Tons of people are sitting there on benches, on the parapets.

Banks and financial institutions. Aval left almost immediately, giving people no opportunity to transfer or withdraw funds. Oshchadbank held out until the armed soldiers came there and said, “this is ours now”.

We will be forever grateful to Privatbank for still going out of its way but not leaving the clients. You can withdraw cash at branches. The queues are unbelievably long, but at least it is possible. When our connection was disabled, the bank support service found an opportunity to authenticate without SMS.

If you don’t manage to stay in the queue, you can benefit from a new profession in Kherson. There is a person who will give you in cash the amount you transfer to their card at a 2-10% rate.

The Russian world deprived us of pharmacies and medicines. Medicines are sold on roadsides and markets from the trunks of cars under the blazing sun, or through telegram groups, from the same cars. Telegram groups emphasize that they are selling high-quality medicines by writing “Ukrainian” or “not Crimea”. If God forbid, something serious happens, all relatives and friends will be looking for medicine at the same time and in all parts of the city. And they might not find it at all. Once they had to pay a hundred hryvnias for a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Today they wanted UAH 850 for Linex.

In early May, you could walk past the park and suddenly notice the snipers in the grass. At the same time, there was an armored personnel carrier with machine guns on the road. There was nowhere to turn, no possibility to speed up because you could be simply shot.

In late April, the Russians fired the city center with a missile to blame the Armed Forces of Ukraine. As a result, no one believed it, but not a window was spared in the city center. This piece of iron landed 600 meters away from my house. Fortunately, I did not spend that night there, but in the morning, I ran so fast that my heart was beating like crazy. I was lucky, the blast wave went another way, and even the windows remained intact.

Today is the 105th day since I have stopped turning on the lights. Russians drive around the city on heavy-duty vehicles in the dark and shine in the windows with a powerful spotlight if they see light.

Leaving home is like going into outer space: EVERYTHING must be erased from the phone because it can be checked any time and you might not return home. People are disappearing. Some return and some have been kept for more than a month, their fate is still unknown. Even very young people can be detained. After one of the rallies, an 18-year-old boy was caught. He was released exactly a month later.

2. Despite all this horror, there is resistance! We do not obey in silence. At first, there were crowded rallies, and very often. People confronted armored personnel carriers and armed men with flags.

Then the weapons were used, and several people with serious injuries were taken to the hospital (a woman with a punctured lung, an elderly man with an open hip fracture, etc.). Resistance became covert, but it exists – leaflets, a few paint strokes in the colors of our flag, blue and yellow ribbons on the trees. The other day, a well-known Kherson volunteer, Uncle Grisha (Hryhoriy Yanchenko), was driving across the Dnipro market with the track “Vova, f* them” turned on at full volume. Street singers sing Ukrainian songs, Ukrainian music is heard in shops. “Oh, the red kalyna in the meadow” is sung on summer evenings in the yards of high-rise buildings, so it was unclear where the sound came from.

Kherson proves every day that we are Ukraine! In conditions of total terror.

3. All concerned Kherson residents have one dream – the liberation of Kherson and victory. We believe in the Armed Forces as we believe in God! Yes, we are afraid. Yes, it is harder to nurture hope with every passing day. Yes, Russians are like locusts, we have a direct portal from hell through the Crimea. But we are waiting and hoping for liberation!

Robbed, destroyed, and plundered Kherson region is waiting and hoping! We are afraid of silence. When we hear the roar of a cannonade, we think that our troops are coming.

My heart pounds every day because tons of deadly iron are being fired at Mykolayiv from Kherson. Correspondence in messengers is the following, “something is flying your way, run to the shelter.” A roll call “are you okay?” follows the artillery shelling.  

4. The worst thing for us is to be forgotten. When it doesn’t rumble over your head and Z’s don’t pass by the window, it’s very easy to forget.

Even worse – they will not be able to retake us.

The most painful thing is when they say, “you are the ones to blame”, “let’s give the Kherson region to the Russians, then they will not go further”. It hurts when the relevant minister broadcasts the message “you have to make a choice in favor of Ukraine and leave.” For three months they had been saying “show, prove that Kherson is Ukraine” – and we were showing and proving. We were told, “there are no green corridors, do not leave, it is dangerous.”

And now the Minister for Reintegration of the Temporary Occupied Territories is almost accusing us of cooperating with the enemy.

Hundreds of executed cars of civilians and volunteers, who were simply shot like they were targets in the range, will tell how to leave the region.

When the minister says something like that, it seems that we have simply been written off like we are a total loss or something.

And the world must hear and understand: Ukraine is paying a bloody tribute to the war every day, and if we are not supported in this struggle, our occupied reality will become theirs as well.

P.S. And some of my off-the-record comments.

Do you know what this person told me after the conversation? I’ll just quote, “Nat, it’s scary. It’s not scary to die. It’s scary not to die instantly. I’m already thinking of buying a pack of Сaptopress, and if anything happens, I will take the pills for the pressure to drop, and that will be it. If, for example, the walls fall on me during the shelling. Or if they come to take me… I’ve been thinking for three days now. I just don’t understand how to calculate the dose.”


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