Looking for pro-Russian “colleagues” in the Ukrainian city of Kherson
“Come on! Show your hands, take out your papers!” On a bank of the Dnieper River near Kherson, two Ukrainian policemen point their Kalashnikovs and force two men to dock their boat. The scene takes place on the right bank of the river that separates the front line in this town in southern Ukraine, liberated a month ago after eight months of Russian occupation.
The police controls reflect the atmosphere of suspicion prevailing in Kherson, where authorities are looking for people who “collaborated” with the Russians or continue to do so. The two men in the boat came from an island near the left bank that is controlled by the Russians, although Russian soldiers are rarely seen there.
“Evacuation is authorized only in the port (of Kherson). Here it is illegal,” he explained. AFP One of the policemen. He said there are agents in the port who “check whether people are involved” in cooperation with the Russians.
However, the police operation is suddenly interrupted by two missiles, which fall on an islet located about 200 meters from the beach and cause a large black plume of smoke. The two men and the officer run for cover and the interrogation begins afterwards.
After the excitement of the first days of liberation, Kherson now remains under strict police control.
Agents check identity documents, question passers-by and search cars on street patrol outside the city and outside. All this with the aim of stopping the “allies”.
“Do you live here but don’t know where the water pump is?” An agent suspiciously reprimands a resident, who has to pull a document from his pocket to prove his address.
“Some of these people were here more than eight months working for the Russian regime, And now we have information and documents about each of them,” Yaroslav Yanushevich, the governor of the Gerson region, told AFP.
“Our police know everything about them and Everyone will be punished” adds up. Controls are also carried out at the train station, AFP verified, where five policemen question people who want to leave the city.
Large propaganda billboards that lined Russia’s main thoroughfares were replaced by others Residents are urged to denounce those who “cooperate” with the Russians. “Give us information about traitors”, reads one of the banners, which appears to have a telephone number and a QR code.
“Most of the information we receive comes from the local population (…) We also check accounts on social networks and continue to monitor the Internet,” explains Andrei Kovani, head of public relations for the Kherson region.
According to Ukraine’s deputy interior minister, more than 130 people have already been detained for “cooperation” in the region. Yewen Yen. Neighbors whom AFP spoke to were in favor of the policy.
“It’s always good to help find an ally or a traitor. We need to help our armed forces catch people working for Russia,” says Pavel, 40.
Another neighbor, 47-year-old Vyacheslav says “All the allies have already fled to the other bank” of the Dnieper River. “Here we are all patriots!” He says