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Russian forces have stepped up their surveillance of civilians in occupied areas of Kherson region in southern Ukraine, detaining residents to root out partisan resistance, according to the Ukrainian military.
In the occupied city of Kherson, Russian troops are now largely wearing civilian clothes and living in civilian accommodation as they ‘reinforce positions inside to fight street battles’, according to the Ukrainian army and a resident of the city with whom CNN exchanged messages.
“In the midst of the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ counteroffensive, the occupiers have significantly intensified the filtering measures,” the National Resistance Center, a creation of the Ukrainian Armed Forces, said on Monday. “Raids among the local population have intensified in the temporarily occupied part of the Kherson region. The occupiers actively seek out the underground movement.
The National Resistance Center said it was aware of dozens of detentions in recent days. He called on civilians to leave the occupied territories “if possible” as the Ukrainian army pushed its counter-offensive.
Fewer checkpoints, more aggressive behavior: A resident of the occupied city of Kherson told CNN through a third party on Sunday that Russian soldiers in occupied villages were behaving more aggressively towards civilians.
“On the western bank, near Snihurivka, there are cases of occupants moving into residents’ houses when people move into town,” the resident said. “A lot of soldiers have come to the villages, they are settling in empty houses. But there are cases where they evict people from their homes.
CNN is not identifying the Kherson resident for his safety. The city of Kherson itself was “relatively quiet”, it said.
“Once in a while you can hear automatic gunfire at night,” the resident said. “There is a curfew in the city and no one goes out at night. The occupiers have created a kind of territorial defense in the city, which deals with security issues.
Checkpoints in the city itself have been removed, she said.
“There are only checkpoints at the entrance to the city. At the checkpoint, they check the documents and see what’s in the car. If it is public transport, the soldier enters the minibus. This can vary, it all depends on the mood of the occupants. They may start checking phones and forcing men to strip to check for tattoos.
More young soldiers appearing: The resident said most of the soldiers appeared to be over 30, but they had started to see more young men, around 18 to 20 years old.
Russian authorities continued Monday to try to restore electricity after a cut on Sunday.
“I believe that electricity and communication will be restored in the near future,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the Kherson region military administration, appointed by Russia, said Monday morning in a video on Telegram. “There is no food problem in the city, there are foodstuffs. It is true that some pharmacies are closed, but it is not impossible to have social benefits. We continue to work on that as well.
Stremousov said authorities continued to offer “evacuation” to the eastern bank of the Dnipro, now including bedridden or mobility-impaired civilians.
Evacuation offers such as this have raised fears that Ukrainian citizens may be forced into Russian territory against their will. Reports emerged early in the war that tens of thousands of Ukrainian civilians were forcibly sent to so-called “filtration centers” before being transferred to Russia. Moscow has denounced these claims as lies, alleging that Ukraine has obstructed its efforts to “evacuate” people to Russia.
The Kherson city resident who spoke to CNN considered the idea of getting on an “evacuation bus” to Crimea a “one-way ticket”.