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KU student’s letters from Kherson (regularly updated)

A student of the Institute of Baltic Region History and Archeology of KU, who is currently in a Ukrainian city that had been under attack and was eventually occupied by Russian forces, tells us about the situation there. He is one of the 43 young people from Ukraine who study at KU, and he watches the war not from afar, but in his homeland.

March 3

We have been occupied. The Mayor of the city has just posted on his Facebook account: “The conditions set by Russian forces for Kherson residents: 1. The city can be entered only during the day; 2. A strict curfew is to be observed from 20:00 to 06:00; 3. Only cars carrying food, medicine, and other supplies are allowed to enter the city; 4. Public utilities servicemen will be allowed to work so that employees of bakeries, shops, pharmacies, etc. can reach their workplaces; 5. People can only walk on the streets alone, maximum in groups of two. The military are not to be provoked. One must stop at their request. Conflicts are to be avoided. 6. The cars that are allowed to drive in the city must drive at a minimum speed; the drivers must be prepared to show what they are carrying at any time “. The Mayor Igor Kolykhaev wrote: “Yes, the flag over the city is Ukrainian. And for it to stay that way, these requirements will have to be met. I can’t offer anything more.”

March 2

Hi, the situation in Cherson is appalling. Ukraine’s Defense Minister tonight said Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Kherson had been under most intense shelling. Yesterday was a particularly difficult day.

The Mayor told us bluntly that the city has been surrounded, and we live under blockade – no one can enter or leave. The most important parts of the city as well as the railway station have been occupied. There are constant armed clashes, a lot of civilians have been killed. Those were mainly the people who decided to “act as heroes” and tried to resist the occupiers. Everyone was told to sit at home and not to go outside, but some people chose to ignore it. We have been told that the peaceful population will not be shot at, yet there are already several hundred victims in Ukraine.

The school I attended was bombed yesterday, as well as our Fabrika (the analogue of your Akropolis). The sounds of clashes, explosions, and shots are heard all the time.

We  have enough food for a few more days. I hope the situation will change.

March 1

Our situation has been getting increasingly worse, both in general and materially. Kherson was attacked at night, and residential houses began to be bombed. The occupiers are already in town. The Mayor instructed people not to leave home. The city is surrounded. It is not possible to enter or leave it. We hear shots and explosions all the time.

(after a break)

I left home today, looking for food. As the city is occupied and blocked, there is a shortage of food and medicines. I wandered for a few hours until I miraculously found the only store open. I stood in a queue for two hours and was able to buy at least some products at very high prices (I hope its owner will one day answer for that). No one knows how long the city will be blocked. The Mayor today appealed to the world media for help and for a “green corridor to the city” to deliver food to the population. The situation is terrible. My Mom and I will have enough food for a few days.

I passed my school. The traces of the track of a tank could be seen on the asphalt. Apparently it had stopped right in front of the school and just fired a shot at it… I sent a picture of the school I took there.

There is a shopping centre Fabrika in our city, such as Klaipėda’s Acropolis. Now I can’t call it a shopping centre because it does not exist any longer. Inside everything is burnt out. As well as McDonald’s and the Zoo (although some animals survived). I’m sending a picture, but it’s not mine _  it was too dangerous to be there.

February 26

Hello, Kherson still keeps its Ukrainian flags. In Kherson Region, most small towns and villages have already been seized by Russian forces. Peaceful people are shot if they try to leave. Rumors are circulating that Russian forces are attacking again. People are filming how Russian military columns are entering Kherson via the Antonovskiy Bridge, where the hottest clashes have taken place. Most of the people we know spend the night in underground shelters because explosions and shots are constantly heard around us. My Mom and I were already “sitting” in the shelter.

There are problems with food and water, but they are not critical if you quickly visit a number of shops. Dairy products and bread are not available at all.

I don’t know yet if I will be able to attend Wednesday’s lecture.

I feel exhausted due to the constant state of tension because anything can happen at any time. I am afraid to go to bed.

Thank you for worrying about me.