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Natalia Porkhun, a resident of the village of Kyselivka in the Kherson region, holds flowers for Ukrainian soldiers. November 12, 2022

The state of liberated Kherson As residents celebrate, Ukrainian authorities begin work to restore basic services

Source: Meduza
Natalia Porkhun, a resident of the village of Kyselivka in the Kherson region, holds flowers for Ukrainian soldiers. November 12, 2022
Natalia Porkhun, a resident of the village of Kyselivka in the Kherson region, holds flowers for Ukrainian soldiers. November 12, 2022
Valentyn Ogirenko / Reuters / Scanpix / LETA

The Ukrainian authorities in the liberated part of the Kherson region have announced “stabilization measures” that are slated to last “several weeks.” The measures will include a curfew from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m. and police inspections of the newly liberated territory for remaining Russian soldiers. The first day after Ukrainian forces reclaimed the territory, however, there was no curfew; Kherson residents celebrated the victory with soldiers from the Ukrainian Armed Forces until late into the night. Police have also begun documenting evidence of war crimes committed by the Russian army (400 cases were recorded on the first day).

Authorities also reported that demining the newly liberated territories will take multiple months. Regional military administration head Yaroslav Yanushevich has asked local residents not to gather in crowded areas or in the center of the city, where demining operations will reportedly begin on November 14.

According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, no journalists will be allowed into Kherson or other towns and villages in the region until at least their main sites and facilities are demined. The Ukrainian Interior Ministry has asked residents who have left the region not to come back until the “stabilization measures” are complete.

Ukrainian intelligence initially reported that not all Russian soldiers who were on the right bank of the Dnipro River during occupation have crossed to the left bank. Officials initially reported that tens of thousands of Russian soldiers were clustered around river crossings. Later, when it became clear that there were no crowds of Russians along the river, Ukrainian authorities reported that Russian soldiers wearing civilian clothing could be hiding in Kherson and in other areas on the river’s right bank. Ukrainian intelligence officials demanded that anyone who joined the Russian army surrender, vowing to “destroy” anybody who resists. By the evening of November 13, there had been no reports of Russians surrendering en masse or being destroyed. Russian “war correspondents” who were in Kherson until November 11 have claimed that all Russian units that were stationed on the Dnipro’s right bank have fled.

Videos of civilians joyfully greeting Ukrainian soldiers have been widely broadcast in the Ukrainian media. One such clip is titled “Grandmother kneels to meet her grandson who liberated Kherson,” while another shows an elderly woman giving an ammunition belt to Ukrainian soldiers.

Grandmother kneels to meet her grandson who liberated Kherson

Ukrainian authorities reported that phone and Internet service from Ukrainian operators is in the process of being restored. According to Yaroslav Yanushevich, mobile phone service from the Ukrainian company Kyivstar is currently accessible at and around the regional administration building. On November 1 — 10 days before Russian forces retreated from the right bank of the Dnipro — Russian occupation authorities reported that 100 percent of the Kherson region was covered by Russian service providers, though in the weeks before Russia retreated, there were numerous reports on social media of people losing service.

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The Ukrainian taxi service Uklon has resumed service in Kherson, while Ukraine’s national postal service announced that it will resume operating in the city next week. The energy company DTEK reported on Saturday that Russian troops “destroyed the entire energy system” in the city before their retreat, and that restoring it could take up to a month.

On Sunday, Ukrainian Railways announced a charity sale of tickets for the first trains to Kherson and four still-occupied Ukrainian cities — Mariupol, Donetsk, Luhansk, and Simferopol. According to the company, buying the tickets is a “symbol of faith in the Ukrainian Armed Forces,” and the tickets to the occupied cities can be used “immediately after deoccupation.”

The national railway company also said that it has begun evaluating the damage done to railway infrastructure in the Kherson region and plans to restore train service to Kherson as soon as possible, though did not provide an estimate for when that might be.

Also widely discussed in the wake of Russia’s retreat was the theft of animals from the Kherson Zoo. On Friday, the pro-Russian poet Anna Dolgareva wrote on Telegram: “The only good news is that my comrade managed to steal a raccoon from the Kherson Zoo.”

Russian media outlets reported the “evacuation” of animals from the Kherson Zoo in early November, including seven raccoons, a llama, a donkey, a wolf, pheasants, a guinea fowl, and peacocks. Oleg Zubkov, the owner of a “safari park” in Crimea, was responsible for taking the animals. In 2020, Zubkov was fined after a lion he owned bit a woman, and in 2022, he was sentenced to jail time after one of his tigers bit a one-year-old. In October, his sentence was overturned and he was released on his own recognizance.

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