From the first days of the war, some territories of Kherson, Mykolaiv and Zaporizhzhya regions are under the control of Russian invaders. For more than 100 days, people in the occupied south have been living in ‘quiet terror’, where anarchy and totalitarianism reign, unemployment is rising, looting and kidnappings have become usual things. It is almost impossible to resist the invaders. All civilian rallies are strictly prohibited, and pro-Ukrainian activists are tortured.
‘Russian world’ in action
Due to the lawlessness and lack of justice, the ‘Russian world’ brings ruination and deaths to the occupied areas. These are just a few examples of what the Russian world’ has brought to the south of Ukraine: frequent shelling of villages in Mykolaiv region, shooting of evacuation columns in Davydiv Brod in Kherson region and in Orikhiv, Zaporizhzhya region, mass casualties of civilians and destroyed houses in Snihurivka, Pravdyno, Nova Zoria, Kozatske…
Recently, drunk occupiers caused a traffic accident in the center of Kherson. This is the second time in a week that civilians have been killed or injured. The occupiers fled from the scene.
In the beginning of March, the occupiers deliberately damaged the lines of Ukrainian mobile operators, prevented local services from repair works and left residents without communication. This often happened during pro-Ukrainian rallies or intensive illegal inspections.
Since May 30, there has been no Ukrainian mobile connection in the occupied territories. As an alternative to Ukrainian operators, the Russian authorities are offering SIM cards of the unknown operator ‘In touch’. Because of panic and fear of losing contact with relatives, people stood in long queues for these SIM cards, which turned out to be just pieces of plastic. After all, it is impossible to replenish the balance of SIM cards in the occupied territories as terminals and banking systems do not operate. The goal of the self-proclaimed government is not to provide locals with means of communication, but to collect passport data of residents, which they must provide when buying a SIM card, and intercept telephone conversations. Wi-Fi works in some places, but people suspect that it is under the control of Russian invaders.
In the first days of the invasion, people bought everything to the maximum, fearing a blockade or general shortage of food. During the next two months of the war, the shops in the occupied towns and villages became empty. There was a minimum of cereals, a maximum of alcohol, local vegetables, and sometimes sweets and spices on the shelves. Russians did not allow Ukrainian humanitarian aid or supplies to stores.
Locals traded Ukrainian food and cigarettes in improvised markets. Sunflower oil, yeast, baby food were worth their weight in gold. Sausages and cheese were sold secretly, as in the old Soviet times.
In May, in Melitopol, Zaporizhzhya region, and Nova Kakhovka, Kherson region, the Ukrainian ATB supermarket network was transformed into SOTSmarket and MERAMarket. The invaders set up their businesses in Ukrainian stores – they just occupied the premises, filled the shelves with their food products, replaced the first three letters of the sign, hung balloons and invited customers. Everything is simple.
Fertile lands of Kherson and Mykolaiv regions provided food for virtually all of Ukraine. Due to the temporary occupation and ruined logistics system, large agricultural enterprises and small businesses suffer. Prices for homegrown food products have reached a minimum both in the newly occupied territories and in Crimea.
The most significant problem for the inhabitants of the occupied south was the shortage of medicines or their lack at all. Queues in pharmacies lasted from 5 am until the end of the working day. People with heart disease, thyroid disease, oncology and hypertension were the most vulnerable. Medicines were ordered through volunteers who, risking their own lives, delivered them from Ukraine-controlled areas. There were cases when the occupiers detained volunteers and their fate is currently unknown, and the search for many of them is still ongoing.
Recently, the occupiers opened several pharmacies in Kherson region.
People in need of medical diagnosis or surgery have to go to the Crimean hospitals.
Escape from the ‘Russian world’
Within 3 months of ‘quiet terror’, towns and villages have become unpopulated.
‘According to the preliminary estimates, about 45% of people left the city of Kherson, and one in five left the region.
This is a catastrophic figure’, says Kherson region governor Hennadii Lahuta.
People of all ages flee from tricolor flags through fields and numerous checkpoints, leaving their homes and farms. Some people go to Georgia, Turkey, and Poland via Crimea, and the majority flee in the direction of a free Ukraine.
There are also those who cannot leave the occupied territory. There are different reasons for this – financial issues, unwillingness to leave what they have acquired, fear of the occupiers or the threat of mined roads. After all, during the occupation, the self-proclaimed government has not provided a single humanitarian corridor.