– I just stared at the wall and cried several times. It is very harsh. Sometimes I thought it was better if I was dead, 21-year-old Julia tells Dagbladet.
She was interviewed by phone from the hospital. There is good enough internet to talk on the phone. Otherwise, the Russians cut off large parts of the information flow.
– We have internet for an hour every day. The time is quite arbitrary, it varies from day to day, she says.
According to the Russian-backed army in the city, a referendum will be held on whether Kherson will become part of Russia. They also claim to have introduced the ruble as a currency, in addition to the fact that the first residents allegedly received a Russian passport.
According to Julia, the Russians fail to achieve these goals.
– Nobody wants Russian passports, she says.
Present a Russian SIM card
Russian propaganda is circulating on TV. The only thing they enter is the Russian TV signal. It is possible to buy new SIM cards that allow them to restore phone coverage, but these are Russian cards, too, according to Julia.
According to the 21-year-old, in order to purchase it, you must hand in your passport, so that the Russians can write down the information.
– You may be part of the information-gathering process for the Russians, you say and continue:
– These SIM cards only work in the regions occupied by Russia, and it is not possible to register a Google account associated with them, for example. I get an error message that the number is invalid.
She says she did not buy this SIM card herself.
– More kidnappers
When Dagbladet first spoke with Julia at the end of March, she said the city was under daily attacks. Now the situation is different, with missiles flying over the city towards Mykolaiv, and not with Kherson as a target.
The situation here can be described as calm. You can go out, but I’ll stay inside. There are many Russian checkpoints along the roads. They check buses, cars and people. There are also more frequent kidnappings of people, she says, adding:
– We hear rumors that people have been kidnapped and put in prison, and that they have to stay there for a week without food. I can’t say for sure that it’s not rumours, but the kidnapping is real.
Several media outlets wrote about what he described as torture by the Kherson people. Russians kidnap and torture people to get information, according to BBCwho spoke to many of the victims.
– de [russerne] I tied a rope around my neck and wrist. They asked me to stand wide while they asked me questions. When I didn’t answer, they kicked me between my legs. When I fell I was strangled, and when I tried to get up, they beat me again. Then they asked new questions, Alexander told the British newspaper.
Julia claims that several people she knows have been kidnapped.
– Two days ago the Russians went to a friend of mine and kidnapped her stepfather. Last night her uncle was kidnapped. They seem to be looking for weapons that don’t exist. These are the people I know and care about. But I can’t do anything.
One of the things that Julia finds particularly challenging is seeing the rest of the world progressing as usual. Also for friends in other Ukrainian cities.
– Friends in Kyiv and Lviv live their lives as usual. We have no access to a normal life. We can’t go to the store, go out, or meet friends.
The Russians steal our lives. We can’t even watch movies because we don’t have the internet.
Difficulty accessing food
The shops in the city are closed. The only place they can buy groceries is the market, where people sell what they produce and grow themselves.
Most of them are from the Crimea. The shortage of Ukrainian products is significant.
We don’t have access to sanitary products, common things like shampoo, toothpaste and soap are hard to come by, and they’re much more expensive than before, and some things have gone up five times in price.
Locally produced vegetables can be relatively inexpensive. While meat products, coffee and water are also very expensive.
– We pay with cash only, mobile payment services are not working. Paying by card is also not possible because we do not have internet. It’s hard to get cash, because the ATMs don’t work. Banks also have a limit on the amount of cash they can issue.
Julia’s mother is the only one in the family who works. Her brother and father lost their jobs due to the war, and Julia was a student when the war broke out.
– But we have what we need. She says we don’t sleep hungry.
Julia talks about what she describes as two different groups of Russian soldiers.
One group is paranoid and frightened and does as they are told, while the other group does a lot of parties. I see cars with the letter “Z” on the cars outside the pub, and they’re drinking and partying at the checkpoints.
Julia said the Russians also burn their soldiers in the city’s cemeteries.
– I think there are soldiers from the front lines, you say.
You’d rather die here
There are opportunities to get out of town, but according to the 21-year-old, both are very expensive and dangerous. Most of the route goes through Crimea, but the nearby areas are vulnerable to attack.
– There were also times when people tried to leave the areas controlled by Russia and were killed. Several cars were completely bombed on the road. It costs a lot to go. You also have no guarantees.
“I’d rather die here with my family than die alone,” she adds.
Her greatest hope is that the war will soon be over. She’s heard analysts say this will go on for a long time – possibly several years, but she hopes they’re wrong.
She hopes to see Ukrainian soldiers again soon, and that the Russians will be expelled from the city.
– Russian soldiers have Their families picked up and settled here. I hope they will have to flee the city eventually, she says and adds:
– I am very angry with the Russians, it is a constant hatred. What else can one feel?
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