In the last eight days, the Russians have been driven out by successful Ukrainian offensives. They left behind not only the liberated population, but also homes that had been shot or bombed, and some military equipment, including tanks and armored vehicles.

The people of this region can be roughly divided into three categories. They were the first to flee from Russian soldiers. Others stayed and hoped that the Ukrainian army would return. They welcomed the second coming of the Russians and were ready to cooperate with them.

Much of this third group has disappeared in the last few days. Among them was the head of the occupied territory of the Kharkov region, appointed by the Russians, Vitaly Ganchev.

Meanwhile, according to Ukrainian journalists, Russian teachers who came to teach in schools according to the Russian curriculum, which was supposed to replace the Ukrainian curriculum after annexation, did not have time to leave. Several teachers were arrested by Ukrainian soldiers, but their fate is unknown.

at least we ate potatoes

The Ukrainian military did not allow journalists to move to the front lines during the offensive, but days later the first reporters were allowed into newly liberated towns and villages.

For example, residents of the village of Verbovka testify that since the occupation began, no one has received a salary or pension. Most people lived on what they grew in their own gardens. They said they had at least potatoes so they wouldn’t die of hunger.

Vasiliy, 67, told reporters on the Ukrainian website and Hromadske TV that Russian soldiers came to his house, put a bag over his head and took him to an unknown location. There they interrogated him for several hours on suspicion that his son-in-law had cooperated with the Ukrainian military.

“They threatened to kill me if I didn’t confess. I wasn’t given food or anything and had to urinate in a bottle,” he told reporters. When they let him go, he was still afraid they might come for him.

Nadezhda, 58, said Russian soldiers came to their yard and robbed her son’s car. Other residents, she said, liked Verbovka and would bring her family too.

they took the phone and searched the house

The Ukrainian flag has already been raised by soldiers and people in the village of Kozacha Lopan, located directly on the Russian border. There, one of the local women said Russians were plucking her SIM cards from people’s cell phones and raiding them indiscriminately.

Some said that in the town of Balakriya they did everything to avoid meeting Russian soldiers. Some spent most of their time in basements or preferred to be confined to their homes. In Balaklia, the city has had no internet or cell phone signal since the end of April. Russian patrols occasionally stopped pedestrians to check their mobile phones for pro-Ukrainian videos and texts.

Some men were asked to remove their clothes and prove that they did not have pro-Ukrainian tattoos on their bodies.

Artem Larchenko, 32, told Reuters reporters that during a search of his apartment the Russians found a photo of his brother in military uniform. For this reason they kept him in the basement for his 46 days. He was there with his five other men. All he had to eat was tasteless porridge.

A reporter for the American newspaper Washington Post arrived in the liberated village of Zaliznicine. He asked the Russian soldiers there why they were there and was told they were to protect themselves from the Nazis and the Americans. They also made the same claim to Izjum residents, according to a CNN report. “Then, show me here!” he said in a debate with the Valery City soldiers, as he just explained to the journalist.

Video: I curse this war, I curse Putin

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