Five days ago, the Ukrainian army pushed back the invaders across the Dnieper and liberated more than 60 settlements in the south of the country, including Kherson, the only regional center captured by the Russian Nazis since the start of a full-scale war. The correspondent of “Dumskaya” Alexander Gimanov visited the liberated city.

– Can I give you a chevron? – a girl with blue and yellow ribbons woven into pigtails holds out to the warrior a fish drawn on a sheet from a school notebook and neatly cut out.

In the 15 minutes that the fighter managed to spend on Svobody Square in Kherson, he handed out all his Velcro insignia. At the sight of a Ukrainian soldier, children hang on him like toys on a Christmas tree. Small fingers reach out to touch the items of equipment, to touch the butt of the weapon. The luckiest and most persistent get a stripe as a gift – the cherished goal of the local boys and girls. The fighter proudly sticks a fish on his sleeve and takes a photo as a keepsake.

– Why a fish? I ask.

“Just a fish,” the girl is embarrassed, but her friend immediately helps her:

– It’s a shark. He sailed when Kherson was liberated.

Even four days after the liberation, the residents of Kherson do not get tired of coming to the main square, under the building of the regional administration, and celebrating. It is impossible to convey the atmosphere that reigns here – you have to feel it. The fear and horrors of the eight months of occupation and the joy of liberation burst forth with tears, hugs, songs. The anthem of Ukraine or “Chervona viburnum” is constantly heard over the square.

One says: “Glory to Ukraine!” – and hundreds answer: “Glory to the Heroes!”.

The square is filled with happy people, every second one has a Ukrainian flag on it. The banners are covered with the autographs of the fighters and the names of their units. When there is no space left on the flag, outerwear is used.

14-year-old Valya has the wishes of the warriors all over her bright orange jacket, including the back and sleeves. The girl cannot contain her emotions, describing the feelings she experienced when she learned about the arrival of the Defense Forces, and promises to wear a jacket without taking it off.

A second, and Valya notices another military man. For lack of a “living” place on the jacket, she slips him a case of her phone for an autograph. The warrior signs with a felt-tip pen from the tactical set, which, in case of injury, must indicate the time of applying the tourniquet. This is the best use for it.

Valya and her sister Alina come from the small village of Bogoroditskoye, which was occupied in early spring. Together with their mother, they moved to Kherson a month ago, after the Russians broke into the house and stole their own father.

– My girls are 14 and 16 years old, – says the girls’ mother Elena. – After the orcs entered the village, they began to walk under the hut, to look. Once in the morning, around seven, they broke into the house with weapons. We asked the reason, they did not answer, they began to look for something in the hut. Then they left anyway. The second time they came and took my husband, without explanation. We came here (to Kherson, – Ed.), Every day they asked for information about him, but no one said anything. Then I learned that he was taken to the left bank, kept there in some kind of prison and tortured with electric current. But they broke down the bars and ran away at night. Now he is at home, looking after the household, and we are here.

Remembering the days spent under occupation, the woman does not hold back her tears:

– It was a constant feeling of fear, it was hard to breathe. The girls hardly ever went outside. And on the 11th they went to the store, returned and said that a car was driving, they showed the Ukrainian flag from there, but we did not believe it, we thought it was a provocation. And then the son returned and said that he had seen our lads.

A mobile communications tower is being installed on the square in front of the entrance to the administration. There is no Internet yet, but you can already call. Several volunteers brought Starlink terminals and distribute the Internet. Kherson residents call and write to relatives, reassure them. Lots of journalists. Reporters from all the world’s publications, who were finally officially let in, or rather brought to the city, collect the texture – bright, happy, free faces and scoop up handfuls of emotional stories.

Here is Andrei Andreevich. He is only six months old, and he was born during the occupation in the Belozersky hospital. The little Ukrainian is wrapped in the national flag and is very pleased with what is happening.

Here is his grandmother Irina, a kindergarten teacher, sharing a life hack that she will use when she returns to work:

– They will eat badly, and I will give them: a spoon for mom, a spoon for dad and a spoon for Valery Fedorovich (Zaluzhny, – Ed.), – the woman laughs. Then he asks his daughter to show on the phone a handkerchief on which she embroidered a not quite censored, but very patriotic toast verse:

“The first toast is for the Crimean bridge,

Toast two – for the cruiser Moscow,

Third povnu – for bavovnu,

All whom they poured, drink for zbroyni forces

Vip’em together – for Zaluzhny,

Vip’em again, shob ї … shiv Vova,

Once the hostess poured – without clinking glasses for x … la,

For the blue sky, for the life of the field, for the world, for whom there is no Muscovite,

Vip’em on the road for our victory

And before that, how to enter the door, for the owners and volunteers.

Irina gave a handkerchief to a servicewoman Nastya Shevchenko on the first day of her release.

Leaving Kherson, the invaders did everything possible to take revenge on its inhabitants and the advancing Defense Forces for their flight. There is no central water supply in the city, no electricity and heat, communication towers and overpasses have been blown up.

The population coordinates and helps each other to solve everyday problems. Well owners share drinking water for free, owners of power generators give the opportunity to charge gadgets and flashlights.

The city is gradually being cleared of Russian propaganda. Public utilities with lifting cradles are tearing down billboards “We are here forever” and “One people”, repainting bus stops.

Kherson will have a difficult and long period of restoration and at the same time defense: the positions of the invaders are dangerously close. The rolling sounds of artillery sound over the city almost every 15 minutes.

The regional center is surrounded by minefields: leaving, the invaders left thousands of “surprises”. Several brigades of rescuers and explosives technicians are working at key points at once, clearing roads, fields and landings from the echoes of war.

Author — Alexander Gimanov


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