Ukraine War Day #27 – A Tale Of Two Cities

Dear Readers:

After a brief interruption for surreal therapy sessions and other breaking news, we return to this story about the Kherson Oblast, and its recent history. Where we left off: we saw that post-Maidan the region was flooded with ideologically anti-Russian elements (Crimean Tatars and Ukrainian Nationalists) who proceeded to block supply of fresh water to the Crimean peninsula.

One of the first acts of the Russian army, was to blow up this dam.

A mere two days after the Russian invasion started (February 26), Russian military engineers of the Black Sea fleet, blew up the Ukrainian dams and released the fresh water. The Russian advance was very quick, almost like a Blitzkrieg: they took Genichesk and then proceeded on a 200-km march towards Novaya Kakhovka, where was located the all-important Hydroelectric Station. Control of this station allowed the Russians to restore the flow of water from the Dnepr River into the Severo-Krym canal. Due to the strategic importance of the Kherson Oblast, especially in regards to neighboring Crimea; and to the Russian focus on this area from the very first days; by March 15 this territory, the entire Oblast, had been cleansed of Ukrainian army troops and the Nationalist Battalions.

In other words, it has been a full week since Kherson became a fully-occupied territory of the Ukraine, now under Russian administration. According to International Law, the occupying power has the duty to perform governmental functions and take care of the material needs, and safety, of the occupied population. Russia quickly set up the flow of humanitarian supplies from Crimea, including 140 tons of vital products (grain, vegetables, tinned food) and items of primary necessity. Distribution centers were set up throughout the city of Kherson. Russians also restored the railway line from Armyansk to Kherson (which had been blocked and dismantled in 2015, by Ukrainian Nationalists), along which humanitarian supplies could also be delivered into the Oblast.

Right from the start, there were stories that certain residents of the Oblast were afraid to accept Russian aid. Russian forces, for whatever reason, good bad or ugly, failed to remove the previous bureaucrats of the Oblast, and left everybody in their place. (Which would have sent a disturbing signal to ordinary people, that maybe the Russians don’t intend to stay for a long occupation.) Many experts believe these Ukrainian officials are sabotaging the Russian forces as best they can, and also continuing to terrorize ordinary people, with threats of reprisals, etc. Which is why some people are fearful to even go and accept food and cleaning supplies.

Mayor Igor Kolykhaev

The Mayor of Kherson is, and was, a man named Igor Kolykhaev, who hails from the Poroshenko political party. Ukrainian blogger Yury Podolyaka, who has become the go-to person for briefings on this war, believes that Kolykhaev will not only try to impede the distribution of humanitarian aid, but will also seek to limit even the sales of products in the stores, creating an artificial shortage and thus stimulating protests among the local population. On March 14 there occurred such a peaceful protest against Russia, which attracted a few thousand city residents, chanting anti-Russian slogans and waving Ukrainian flags. Podolyaka believes that Kolykhaev was behind this protest.

Larisa Shesler, a Ukrainian human rights activist whom we met earlier in this series, says that the problem goes deeper than just the pressure exerted on regional officials by [what remains of] the Kiev center: “The people who live there, whether they are pro-Russian or anti-Russian, have no idea how this situation is going to end. It is because of this that the Bandera anti-Russian component feels itself to have impunity. They [still] fear the Kiev government more than they fear the Russian soldiers who are currently stationed in Kherson.” She adds that some people have a sense that everything might just return to the way it was, in which case those who bet on the Kiev horse, will be rewarded for their loyalty.

Although such an opinion seems insane to those of us looking at this from afar, it is understandable why Kherson residents might feel that way, given that they are cut off from a lot of news and internet sources. And a lot of people are still telling them the Ukraine is winning the war. In which case, they resort to peasant cunning and hedge their bets.

Shesler continues, adding even more context: “And then you see that the pro-Russian element, which indubitably exists also in Kherson, has been dispersed and driven underground. They are afraid to show themselves [even now], because they know they are in for some very cruel reprisals, if the Kiev authorities should return to power.” People won’t start to feel really safe until they are assured that the Russian presence in the region will be a serious and long-lasting one. [Not just a temporary occupation.] “Sooner or later Russia must reform this territory, and at that point the pro-Bandera circles will understand that their cause is hopeless.”

Melitopol: A Different Scenario

For whatever reason, Russian forces decided to behave differently when they took the Zaporozhian city of Melitopol,

Here, instead of leaving the old Mayor in his office, the Russians arrested him and took him away. The guy’s name is Ivan Fedorov. After a few days in captivity, Fedorov drew the lucky ticket and was traded, in exchange for 9 Russian POW’s.

In this interview with CIA agent/fake journalist Anderson Cooper, we see the slab-faced Fedorov narrating the story of his ordeal:

Fedorov’s English is bad, so he is hard to understand, but the gist of it is this: Russian soldiers and secret service abducted him, locked him up in his own jail (“in a room for bad boys”), tried to convince him to use his authority to stop the “meetings” (Russian word for protest demonstrations). He manfully refused their request. “Did they … uh… hurt you?” Cooper asks, almost trembling with illicit prurience.

“No, no, of course not.” But the monsters took away his phone and internet. Meanwhile, in the other cells he could hear other prisoners being beaten up, which was scary to him, understandably so.

Eventually Ivan was released and traded for 9 Russian POW’s. He returned unscathed but can’t get his old job back because the Russians disbanded the City Council and put some other dude in his chair. Fortunately, Zelensky just re-hired him for a new gig in Zaporozhie, so that should keep him busy for a while.

[At least a couple more weeks. Then, after the Russians take the rest of Zaporozhie, Fedorov, with his brutish looks, can get a job in Hollywood, playing a Russian baddie in action movies. He could play a Russian Mafia thug or a murderous FSB agent trying to assassinate Jack Ryan. Or something like that.]

People, Meet Your New Mayor!

The new Mayor of Melitopol, appointed by the Russian occupying forces, is a Ukrainian politician named Galina Danilchenko, from the old Party of the Regions. I have this piece by reporter Mikhail Moshkin, detailing the challenges facing Galya’s new team. The meat of it is an interview with a man named Evgeny Balitsky, who is one of the members of the new City Council. Balitsky’s story illustrates the very different tactic that Russian authorities are taking here, than they did (apparently) in Kherson.

The lede paragraph begins:

When the Ukrainian government left Melitopol [yalensis: or was abducted out it – LOL!], with them went all the services responsible for the safety and security of the city. Weapons and police vehicles were simply abandoned. Fortunately, members of the Emergency Response Services [МЧС – the American equivalent would be something like FEMA, only more effective] stepped up to the plate. Not abandoning their fellow Melitopolian townspeople, they remained on the job and are doing great work, according to Evgeny Balitsky, one of the new city leaders.

[to be continued]

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5 Responses to Ukraine War Day #27 – A Tale Of Two Cities

  1. I just read this article on Kherson. Seems it might very ugly soon.


    • yalensis says:

      For a minute I thought I was living in a parallel universe. But then clarified to myself that this article is from 2016! I reckon they are translating it now for purposes of writing history books, check the dates:

      March 22, 2022

      But then below that:

      Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard

      And when I link on the Russian original, it is clear this is from 2016:

      В Херсоне ставлениками Порошенко готовится АТО
      Илья Карпенко
      Илья Карпенко

      Whew! Not that things are much better now in Kherson, but they certainly can’t be any worse than they were in 2016, at the height of Porky’s ATO!


      • My apologies! I didn’t check the date and I did find the difference in the names mentioned a bit confusing 😉 I think there is a full media Blitz by Russia and all assets are being ramped up :). That site’s Telegram channel has just burst into life after being dormont for a long time and I imagine they are reycling content that they think is relevant. either that or Telegram is slow updating their data 🙂


        • yalensis says:

          Haha, That’s okay! Yeah, it’s a bit odd for people to start recycling older stuff. Except maybe for historical reasons.
          Actually, Poroshenko is somewhat relevant now, I can’t be the only person who noticed that the U.S. inserted him back into the Ukraine just on the eve of war, and Zelensky had to basically swallow it down, even though he hates Porky’s guts.
          Here is my theory: I think the Americans knew that Zel was not commander-in-chief material during wartime, so Porky is in fact the Acting Commander-in-Chief, because they think he has more experience in that regard. While poor Zel is just sitting in his Polish bunker pretending to be the Ukrainian Prez and doing zoom meetings with Western leaders. Well, that’s my theory, for what it’s worth…

          Liked by 1 person

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