Ukraine War Day #208: Desperate Situation In Nikolaev

Dear Readers:

Today I have this piece for your edification, the reporter is Darya Volkova. In previous posts we have already met a very nice lady named Larisa Shesler. Larisa is a human rights activist who hails from the Nikolaev region, at one time she even sat as a Deputy on the Nikolaev Oblast Soviet. Currently in exile in Russia, she follows very closely what is happening to the unfortunate people who still reside in her hometown. I believe that she is a Russian Jew, but don’t quote me on that, because I am not 100% sure about her ethnicity. Russian Jews of the Odessa/Nikolaev region are among the most traditionally anti-fascist and not the types who would get infected by the brain-lice ideology of Ukrainian nationalism.

In this interview Shesler is responding to rumors (from the so-called “Underground”) that Nikolaev’s Governor, the odious Vitaly Kim, has fled to Odessa, in order to secure his personal safety. Pro-Russians were very eager to hear this, as they loathe Kim and would like nothing better than to see him on the run; also, news of his flight would encourage them to believe that Nikolaev is about to fall to the Russians. Shesler however, as one can see from her very countenance, is a grounded person who is not prone to wishful thinking. For ones such as her, it’s all about “the facts, ma’am, just the facts.”

Larisa Shesler

Shesler: The situation in Nikolaev is very difficult, both from a humanitarian, as well as a military point of view. Repressions are ongoing. However, things have not yet gotten to the point where the government would feel the need to evacuate. We don’t need to engage in wishful thinking.

It might be true that Kim is in Odessa right now, but we shouldn’t read too much into that. The military situation is not yet so difficult for the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) that they, as well as the Mayor Alexander Senkevich, would feel the need to bolt out of the city.

The city finds itself in a desperate situation. There are huge problems with the water supply, and it is not clear at all how people are going to survive the winter (heating season). Recently Kim called upon all peaceful civilians to evacuate, except for those who work for the military or have other gainful employment. The overwhelming majority of the population, around 80% have no jobs. This is a huge problem. The city is also experiencing problems with drinking water and humanitarian aid. People are starting to experience actual hunger.

Nikolaev is a place where [the UAF] have concentrated a huge cache of military objects, various military units are assembled there, and HIMARS systems are also assembled there. [For this reason] Nikolaev is subjected to regular rocket strikes [from the Russians]. It is becoming ever more dangerous for civilians to remain in the city.

Unfortunately, there is no place for them to go. Nobody wants to welcome Nikolaev people, neither in the other Ukrainian Oblasts, nor in Europe. Russia would be the only place for them, but they can’t get there. Aid for refugees is drying up everywhere, and people find themselves in a hopeless situation.

At the same time, for several months now, Nikolaev has become one of the biggest epicenters for repressions against the pro-Russian population. This is a Russian city, many of the residents support Russia, they are waiting for the arrival of Russian troops, but they must hide their opinions. This attitude of the population arouses the fiercest rage among the Ukrainian special services and government of the city and Oblast, and also among the military units which are stationed there.

Nikolaev Governor Vitaly Kim hates Russians with all his heart.

The local government, including Kim, have advertised their intentions to terrorize the population and crush all dissent. Ordinary people are being stopped on the streets, their phones taken away and examined, many of them are arrested on the spot and led away.

I personally know two elderly ladies, over the age of 70, who find themselves the target of a criminal investigation, for views which they expressed ten years ago! Anybody can see that these women don’t present any kind of threat to the establishment.

That’s the end of the Shesler interview. The rest of the article works backward, going into the rumors of Kim’s departure. Apparently there is a small “underground” of anti-Ukrainian activists in the city. Indulging in wishful thinking (in Shesler’s view) they published posts claiming that Kim had fled to Odessa: “Apparently he fears Russian rockets raining down on the places where he likes to drink and snort cocaine.” These activists printed out “wanted” posters with Kim’s mug on them, and spread them throughout the city. And they point to the fact that Kim, who used to be very active on his Telegram channel, posted his last vid back on September 11 and has not posted anything since then.

These underground activists have documented how the Ukrainian authorities engage in “filtration” activities. In which, like Shesler said, they stop people on the streets and check their phones, to see if they have been on any Russian internet sites. The activists advise people to wipe their phones and keep their heads down; because, once detained and taken away by the SBU, they will most likely never be seen again.

As if that isn’t bad enough, the peaceful civilians are forced to endure the sound of Russian shelling and bombs as well. For example, in the course of a single day, the Russians (via aviation, rockets and artillery) took out some 180 UAF targets in the Nikolaev Oblast, including a command group of the Ukrainian “Primorye” rocket brigades.

And, if that still isn’t bad enough, the Nikolaev citizens are beginning to experience actual hunger. A week ago, or so, the local government instituted a card-rationing system for bread.

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16 Responses to Ukraine War Day #208: Desperate Situation In Nikolaev

  1. stephentjohnson says:

    Fwiw, I very much doubt that the odious Kim has fled.
    As to possible evacuation of the civilians in the Black Sea littoral, well, as you say, evacuate to where? I suspect the order is given more for the local authorities to have an excuse for abandoning the local population to their lot than anything else. Who knows what’s next? The way things are going, it doesn’t seem that any bad acts are too bad for the current Kiev regime, so we have a real humanitarian catastrophe in the making.
    Ugh, I need to go think about something more cheerful now.

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  2. BM says:

    O/T – Yalensis, the latest video of Andrei Martyanov is called Politicizing Reality. I recommend if for you (even though he does get a bit excited in this video which reduces clarity of what he is saying) because he talks about the hazards of trusting Telegram channels, and Russian journalists in general, (western journalists much more so of course, but his point is that even many Russian journalists are over their heads when talking about military matters). The Russian army normally doesn’t let journalists anywhere near them, so the journalists are always with the local militias who don’t understand the broader picture.

    Another important point he discussed in a recent video is that all the Telegram channels are struggling for clicks and subscribers because they are looking for money, so they overdramatise the situation to get more attention (and make more money). In doing so they are unwittingly becoming propagandists for Ukraine. This applies particularly to the Kharkov operation, which for Ukraine and US was a catastrophic failure while Russia lost nothing of any significance at all and gained enormously in terms of dimilitarisation.

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  3. BM says:

    And have a wonderful trip in Russia, Yalensis!

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  4. John Jennings says:

    yalensis, enjoy your travels!
    Somewhat off topic – but have you seen or heard of this? I stumbled across this entirely by accident while researching something else.
    They sound like snarky ignorami who very much overrate their own impact. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NAFO_(group)

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    • yalensis says:

      Hi, John. No, I had never heard of these idiots before, but now I have, thanks to you! Educated guess: CIA cut-out?

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    • JMF says:

      NAFO is mentioned in passing towards the end of the following article with links to the University of Adeleide study which (presumably) discusses them:

      “Exposed: The vast pro-Ukrainian ‘bot army’ designed to influence Western policy makers”
      https://www.rt.com/news/562509-ukrainian-bots-in-twitter/

      “… The University of Adelaide paper also raises obvious questions about the true nature of something called NAFO – the ‘North Atlantic Fellas Organization’ – which was a leading force in the online counterblast against Amnesty and CBS. NAFO has a history of harassing pro-Russian voices and mass reporting accounts until they are temporarily or permanently suspended. Many prominent officials have praised the group, and it has received positive profiles in The Economist, Politico, and the Washington Post. …”

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      • yalensis says:

        Oh yeah, I think I did hear about them. Well, everybody knew that a pro-Ukraine bot army was on the move and doing nefarious things, I just didn’t realize that they were “fellas”. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, I just don’t understand these silly memes, like the frog thing for the pro-Trumpers, etc. I don’t mind propaganda so much, even of the opposite opinion to mine, I just don’t like sneakiness and silly memes. Well, maybe it’s like hand-signaling or something like that, to them.

        My philosophy is: say what you mean, state your opinions clearly, avoid Aesopian language or dog whistles. (And, it goes without saying, just be one person, not a fake army!)

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        • Just a quick explainer about the frog thing. It’s a deliberately ugly symbol to adopt. It’s based on an old cartoon about an antisocial frog-faced character who does things such as piss on his friend’s living room carpet. Hillary Clinton referred to left-behind-by-the-modern-economy Trump supporters as “deplorables.” Because that group hated Hills so much, they said “OK, we will take your word of scorn as our badge of honour!” Like activist gay people do with the word “queer.” Same dynamic went to work with Pepe the frog. “You think we’re repulsive, you libtards?!? We’ll show you, by having a revolting image as our avatar.” Biden supporters are just as trivial in their own way with the “Dark Brandon” image memes. Buncha children on both sides.

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  5. Great blog! Hard to find authentic Russian perspective in English about the Ukraine conflict. Kudos Yalensis, keep up the great work! 🙂

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  6. Perhaps Kim was worried that he might be on the receiving end of something explosive coming from the east, as tit-for-tat revenge for the way several pro-Russian government officials have been killed in cities that were taken away from Ukrainian control. IF he has actually decamped. Because he has not blorted on Telegram since Sept. 11, if Shesler has it right, that’s a good indication he has gone underground. Because SO MANY people (not just Ukronazis, either) have a compulsive need to spout bollocks on the Internet. (Me too, obviously, since I’m writing this on the .www

    There’s a deep psychological drive in people to want to put themselves out there for view by (potentially) the entire world, via the words they type and the photos they post. Especially for the yoof of 2day, going viral is the dream. (Although I haven’t noticed the phrase “going viral” being used so much since the pandemic virus took over the world. Perhaps too “on the nose” as they say here.) “Hey everybody, notice me!” I think this is because so many people feel like anonymous, unimportant cogs in a world of 8 billion people. The idea of exposure makes them feel less meaningless. However, I’m wandering into philosophical musings here, which I do too often, so time to stop.

    And move into another philosophical musing! Which does tie back to something mentioned in your post. Mobile phones (Aussies don’t call them “cell” phones) as a potential arrest warrant. They don’t just record your movements through the world, they also show what you read, wrote and photographed. Right there in a handy device that men with guns can look at, and hey, if you don’t give us the password to unlock your device, you’re coming with us to headquarters so we can discuss this further…

    It’s not just the Banderazis, either. How much have you read about U.S. Border Control agents grabbing phones for scanning, downloading (and possibly installing spy code, who knows?) when travelers fly into American airports? A phone is a little robot government agent in your pocket, just waiting to blab everything about you when it’s in the hands of a human government agent. Let’s see how that goes for you on your way in and out of “enemy territory,” Yalensis.

    I never got into the whole mobile phone thing. I have one, a dumb phone I bought for $50 circa 2016, plus two smartphones I have picked up for free in various ways, but which aren’t SIMed. I do not carry my mobile outside my flat unless I’m expecting a call. Part of that is because I enjoy being out of reach, free from interruption. But it’s also because reading “1984” formed the bedrock of my worldview. Big Brother’s surveillance society seemed horrible when I first twigged to the book in my teens. Yet Orwell’s vision of the panopticon was primitive compared to the technology of today. Instead of 2-way telescreens in the home, plus cameras and Minilove agents in the streets, humans now PAY for the privilege of carrying a tracking device everywhere they go!

    I’m an intentional Luddite for many reasons. Anything electronic can be seized electronically by the government. Like the Ukie .gov blocking the hryvnia bank accounts of “disloyal” citizens in territory now controlled by the DPR/LPR. I’m not completely primitive. I own a mobile phone, have a bank account because one cannot live in modern society without those, and I’m obviously using a computer to type this. But I only keep enough electronic money in the bank to cover a couple months‘ rent — the rest is in stacks of actual currency (plus lots of shiny metal objects, heh-heh.) If a government force wants to steal from me or find out what I’ve been thinking — not that they would, because I now try to be as low-profile to The System as possible — they’ll have to do it the old-fashioned way. By physically finding where my cash is and picking it up, or grabbing me bodily and torturing me until I talk. I’m not going to make it a slam-dunk for The Oppressor State by having a one-stop interrogator in my hand.

    Any government can go Ukronaz when things go badly. And things will, until General Collapse short-circuits the technosphere to the point where we’re back to a 1950s (or even earlier!) level of civilisation. I reckon that what’s happening in Nikolayev is a foreshadowing of what will be coming to all of us when shit falls apart.

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    • yalensis says:

      Bukko, you are a smart man to stay off the grid as much as you do. I wish I could be more like you, but I’m not smart enough to figure it out.
      Just out of curiosity where DO you keep your stash of cash and gold bars? (Don’t worry, I won’t tell anyone – heh heh.)

      Anyhow, that reminds me of the character of Jean Valjean in Hugo’s Les Miserables. When Valjean realized that the coppers were onto him, he took a big stash of his loot and buried it in the woods just outside of Montreuil-sur-Mer. The coppers never found it. Rumor has it, all that cash and gold (and the Bishop’s candlesticks) are still buried there, somewhere outside of town!

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      • Bukko Boomeranger says:

        Well Yalensis, the first rule of Gold Club is that you don’t talk about Gold Club. I can speak in generalities and about the past, though.

        I don’t keep gold around my flat. It’s in a vault at a safe deposit box company (not a bank, coz I detest banks.) Within walking distance of where I live. When Covid was first brewing up and I anticipated clampdowns, I pulled it all out and brought it home. I had no idea whether everything was going to collapse. Maybe there would be mass death, economic devastation and the government would confiscate everything of value from known wealth storage sites. That didn’t happen, so I have reversed course. If I’m paying to rent a box, I’m gonna use it.

        Gold is impractical, though, when it comes to converting it to something one can spend. Silver is better. A 1-oz gold coin, which is about the size of a Susan B. Anthony dollar (but lots heavier!) would sell for +$2,000 Australian. A 1-oz silver coin will bring ~$40 Australian. It would theoretically be easier to sell a few silver coins at a precious metal dealer, for cash in hand, without mandatory reporting to the taxman. If one wanted to sell a ~$2K gold coin, metal dealers don’t keep that much cash around. So there would have to be a money transfer to one’s bank account. That leaves an electronic trail which requires ‘splainin’ to The Man.

        “Why are there all these $2,000 credits in your account, which the bank has alerted us to via a Suspicious Activity Report? (SARs are an actual thing, if you didn’t know. Try to deposit more than a thousand in cash, for instance, and you’re going to be SARed as a possible drug dealer.) How much did you pay for that gold when you got it, and how much profit did you make when you sold it? Now pay us capital gains tax on the difference! Maybe we’ll just make you pay tax on the full $2,000 that you got for it, because we don’t believe your cost basis figure. If you dispute this, we’ll throw you in jail until you get a court date two or three years in the future.”

        Now if one exchanged a gold coin for an equal amount of value in silver ones — the current ratio is about 75 silver coins for one gold one — that could enable cashing out in a less conspicuous way with bit-by-bit sell-offs. Especially if one knows the bullion shop owner because one has been coming there for years and engaging in friendly conversations about politics, economics and suchlike. Sadly, that would entail getting skint for vigorish by the coin dealer on the exchange, which dealers like, giving them an incentive to cooperate in the switcheroo. Not saying whether I’ve ever done that, though — we’re talking theory here.

        I do not bury gold any more. First time I did that was in the mid-1980s, when I was living in a cabin I owned on the shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. I thought Reagan might get the world into a nuclear war with the USSR. I had land to grow food, firewood to burn, with a creek big enough for salmon to swim up during spawning season at the edge of the property. ICBM targets such as Detroit and Chicago were more than 500 miles away. It seemed like a good place to do the survivalist thing if it all blew up. I put my stash in a hole under the back steps to the detached garage. Then the theory about nuclear winter came out. Winters there were already atrocious in the U.P., even before the planet would be smogged by radioactive ash. So I dug it up and moved on.

        When the most recent (now-ex) wife and I were planning to bail on the U.S., we wanted to have a fallback position in case we somehow lost everything financially and had to repatriate. So I took 30 1-oz coins that I had bought when I liquidated my IRA and buried it in the back yard of the wife’s best friend’s house in San Francisco. With friend’s permission, of course. Seven years later, I had moved us from Australia to Vancouver in Canada on a work visa because the wife missed S.F. so much. She hated Oz. Vancouver was as close as we could get to San Fran while remaining outside the borders of the Empire. Eventually the wife decided she was going to ditch me and move back to S.F. like she had been threatening to for years. (No, I was not abusive, cheating, drunk/drugged. She was a feminist who was accustomed to ditching husbands — I was #4 for her — but that’s another story.) Wife conceded the buried hoard was MY personal gold, separate from the jointly owned stuff in our Swiss bank account (another long story). So I took the family Prius and boogied down Interstate 5 through the Pacific Northwest to retrieve it before the wife left.

        Only, IT WASN’T WHERE I THOUGHT IT WAS!!!! Thirty ounces of gold was worth close to U.S. $50,000 at the time, so I was shitting (gold) bricks. Friend was totally trustworthy — I had no fear that she had ripped me off. As I was digging up her yard by the wall where I thought it was, she suggested renting a metal detector, then said “I thought I saw you bury it by that other wall.” She had great memory in late 2012 for something that had been hidden in 2005! Not bad for someone who smoked as much weed as she did. And there it was, after a little excavation. That traumatic moment was enough to convince me that “the First Bank of Dirt” is not a good idea.

        I could tell you more, but then you’d have to kill me. So you could steal it. Best to stay schtum, as our Yiddish friends would say.

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        • yalensis says:

          Wow, what a story! You really thought this through, Bukko. I’m glad you found your pirate’s stash. It could have been touch and go, if the ex-wife had been a dishonest prick. She really could have ripped you off!
          Only problem with all of this: When the apocalypse comes and you go to sell your gold coins for food and shelter, maybe there are no gold dealers any more. Just mindless zombies roaming around…

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