On the hunt for pro-Russian “collaborators” in Kherson

On the hunt for pro-Russian “collaborators” in Kherson

“Come forward! Show your hands, take out your papers!” On a bank of the Dnieper river near Kherson, Two Ukrainian police officers point their Kalashnikov rifles 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. Police control reflects the climate of suspicion that prevails in Khersonwhere authorities are looking for people who “collaborated” with the Russians or continue to do so.

The two men in the boat came from one of the islands near the left bank, which is controlled by the Russians, although Russian soldiers are rarely seen there. “Evacuations are only authorized in the port (of Kherson). It’s illegal here,” one of the police officers told AFP. In the port there are agents who “check whether people are involved” in collaborating with the Russians, he adds. Suddenly, the police operation is suddenly interrupted by two missiles hitting an islet about 200 meters from the beach, causing a large black smoke, then the two men and the officers run away for cover and the interrogation resumes later.

“Everyone Will Be Punished”

After the euphoria of the first days of the liberation, Kherson now lives under strict police control. Agents check identity documents, question passers-by and search trunks of cars at city exits and on street patrols. All this with the aim of stopping “collaborators”.

“Do you live here, but you don’t know where the water pump is?” an agent reproaches a resident with suspicion, who has to take a document out of his pocket to prove his address. “Some of these people were here for more than eight months working for the Russian regime, and now we have information and documents about each of them,” says the governor of the region of Kherson, Yaroslav Yanushevich. “Our police know everything about them and they will all be punished,” he adds.

Denounce the “traitors”

The large propaganda billboards that exalted Russia on the main avenues have been replaced by others urging the inhabitants to denounce those who “collaborated” with the Russians. “Give us information about the traitors”, reads one of those banners, on which a telephone number and a QR code appear.

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“Most of the information we receive comes from the local population. We also examine the accounts on social networks and continue to monitor the internet,” explains Andrei Kovanyi, head of public relations for the region of Kherson. More than 130 people have already been detained for “collaboration” in this region, according to the Ukrainian Deputy Minister of the Interior, Yevhen Yenin.

“It’s always good to help find a collaborator or a traitor. We have to help our armed forces capture people who worked for Russia,” says Pavel, 40. Another neighbor, Viacheslav, 47, assures that “all the collaborators have already fled to the other bank” of the Dnieper river. “Here we are all patriots!” he exclaims.


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