Life inside occupied Ukraine, Russia tries to erase history

Russia is determined to erase all references to Ukraine from the parts of the country it annexed.

Russia, which launched its invasion on February 24, failed in its initial goal of quickly capturing the capital, Kiev. End of March It should regroup and focus its efforts in the East.

For those who live there, fear, intimidation and changes in their lifestyles from their money to internet access.

Russian troops guard the entrance to the Khakovka hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine's Kherson region, Friday, May 20, 2022, during a visit organized by the Russian Defense Ministry.

Russian troops guard the entrance to the Khakovka hydroelectric power station on the Dnieper River in Ukraine’s Kherson region on May 20, 2022.

AP photo

Russification of Ukrainians

In the southern cities of Kherson and Melitopol, the first major cities Russia conquered, Russia began to provide Russian to the population. Passports.

of Ukraine The Ministry of External Affairs responded May called it a “gross violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, norms and principles of international humanitarian law.”

These “illegal passports” include Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, Crimea, and the occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk, areas held by separatists that Russia recognized as independent states before the invasion.

Ukraine said the passports were further evidence of Russia’s goal to “further occupy Ukrainian territories and integrate them into Russia’s legal, political and economic space”.

In May, Russian President Vladimir Putin also approved Fast track system Russian citizenship for people living in occupied Ukraine.

Russia has too introduced In an effort to replace the Ukrainian hryvnia with its own currency, the ruble, to the Kherson region and other cities in the east and south.

Changing politics

Russia has also replaced Ukrainian mayors.

Earlier this week it said it had detained the mayor Gerson. In March, that too Appointed a new mayor in Melitopol after kidnapping the incumbent.

Also an officer in Kherson’s new, pro-Russia administration told Reuters Preparations have begun for a referendum on whether the region should join Russia.

It’s a view Western intelligence officials have long held worry aboutWith the US ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe warning In May, it added that it could give “democratic or electoral legitimacy” to the Russian annexation.

Fear of torture

Residents who remain in the cities report the presence of more Russian troops, and those who have left report their presence He was tortured After they talk about Russian aggression.

People in Russian-occupied areas are also afraid to go outside for fear of soldiers, BBC reported.

Reports from Ukrainians in Russian-occupied Ukraine show that Russia is imposing brutal new laws, interrogating people, and Takes over the internetimposes its own monitoring and auditing.

But such changes took place from the very beginning of the Russian invasion.

The Guardian reported Anti-Russian protests were shut down in March, and a resident of Nova Khakov in Kherson Oblast told the press that Russian authorities had threatened to cut off water and electricity supplies if the demonstrations continued.

People wave Ukrainian flags during a rally against Russian occupation at Svoboda (Freedom) Square in Kherson, Ukraine, Saturday, March 5, 2022.

People wave Ukrainian flags during a rally against Russian occupation on Svobody (Freedom) Square in Kherson on March 5, 2022.

AP Photo/Olexandr Chorny

Culture is targeted

In April, Russian authorities in the occupied territories began replacing Ukrainian media with its own media, blocking Ukrainian news programs and airing pro-Russian content instead. BBC reported.

A month ago, Russian soldiers patrolled the southeastern city of Berdyansk, and local radio stations began playing Soviet ballads and pro-Russian propaganda. The Guardian reported.

That month, the Russians detained 50 employees of a Ukrainian news station based in the city for five hours, the BBC reported.

A journalist told the broadcaster that Russia had threatened them to release details of pro-Ukraine activists and soldiers in the area and broadcast Russian propaganda on their stations.

A school principal told CNN In April they searched his home for Ukrainian school textbooks, holding his daughter at gunpoint in the process.

For those left in Russia-occupied Ukraine, it’s a new way of life.

As Angelique Appéroux, head of operations for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Ukraine, said, many of those who remain are unable to leave. Politics In June.

“Many people in their homes are left with no way out even as the fighting approaches.”

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