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Ukraine: in Kherson, the hunt for “collaborators” is open – World Today

“Come on! Show your hands, get your papers out! “: on a beach on the banks of the Dnieper in Kherson, in the south of Ukraine, police armed with Kalashnikovs aim at two men who have just docked with their boat.

The scene takes place on the right bank of the river, downstream from the city liberated on November 11 by soldiers from Kiev, after eight months of occupation by Russian forces, now withdrawn to the left bank.

It symbolizes the climate of suspicion that reigns in Kherson, where the authorities still fear the presence of people who allegedly collaborated, or even still collaborate with the Russians, and seek to identify them.

The two men had just evacuated one of the islands bordering the eastern shore, a gray area where Ukrainian forces are absent and which is controlled, in fact, by Moscow, even if the Russian soldiers are invisible there.

This time, the control turns short: two rockets fall on an islet 200 meters in front of the beach, releasing a plume of black smoke.

The Dnieper has become the new front line. The two men and the police ran away to take cover. The interrogation will resume once calm has returned.

Strong police presence

After the euphoria of liberation, Kherson now lives under tight police control, which is very present and visible.

Filtering points at the exits of the city, patrols in the streets: the men in blue check identity papers, ask questions, search the trunks of cars, to flush out “collaborators”.

“These people have been here for more than eight months. They worked for the Russian regime and now we have information and documents on each of them. Our police know everything about them and each of them will be punished,” said the governor of the Kherson region, Yaroslav Yanushevich.

At a large crossroads at the end of a bridge that leads to the industrial and port area, an old man approaches one of the police officers who are screening cars and passers-by. He asks him where he can go to fill the two carboys in his hand with water. “You say you’re a local and you don’t know where the water point is? “Asks, suspicious, the policeman. The man will have to show a used photocopy, taken out of his pocket, to prove his identity.

Checks are also made at the station, where some inhabitants still evacuate the city by a daily train.

In a separate room, five police officers are seated in front of as many small tables and each interrogates an evacuee seated opposite.

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Denounce the “traitors”

On certain avenues of the city, the large propaganda posters of the occupier which praised Russia have disappeared in favor of others to the glory of the liberation of Kherson. But other posters also appeared inviting residents to denounce those who collaborated with the Russian forces. “Provide information on traitors here”, indicates one of them by referring to the QR code of an application or a telephone number.

“This helps us to identify them, to know if they are on the territory that we control”, justifies the governor of the region.

“Most of the information is received from the local population during simple conversations (…) We also analyze the accounts on social networks and continue to monitor the Internet”, explains Andriï Kovanyi, head of public relations of the police of the region of Kherson.

After the police, the Ukrainian security services (SBU) take over the investigations.

According to Deputy Interior Minister Levguen Yenine, more than 130 people have already been arrested for collaboration in the Kherson region.

letelegramme Fr Trans

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