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Russian Forces Intensify Raids Against Civilians in Occupied Kherson

A Ukrainian woman sits in a car with her family after they managed to flee the Russian-occupied territory of Kherson on November 5, 2022. (Photo by BULENT KILIC/AFP via Getty Images)

Russian forces have intensified their scrutiny of civilians in occupied areas of southern Ukraine’s Kherson region, rounding up locals to root out partisan resistance, according to the Ukrainian military.

In the occupied city of Kherson, Russian troops are now mostly wearing civilian clothes and living in civilian homes as they “reinforce positions inside to carry out street battles,” according to the Ukrainian military and a city resident with whom CNN exchanged messages.

“Amid the counter-offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, the occupiers have significantly intensified the filtration measures,” the National Resistance Center, a creation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, said on Monday. “Raids among the local population have intensified in the temporarily occupied part of the Kherson region. The occupiers are actively searching for the underground movement.”

The National Resistance Center said it was aware of dozens of arrests in recent days. He called on civilians to leave the occupied territories “if possible” as the Ukrainian army pushes forward its counteroffensive.

Fewer checkpoints, more aggressiveness: A resident of the occupied city of Kherson told CNN on Sunday, through a third person, that Russian soldiers in occupied towns are behaving more aggressively towards civilians.

“On the west bank, near Snihurivka, there are cases of squatters breaking into locals’ houses when people move to the city,” the resident said. “Many soldiers came to the villages and settled in empty houses. But there are cases where they throw people out of their houses.”

CNN is not identifying the Kherson resident for his safety. The city of Kherson itself has been “relatively quiet,” she said.

“Automatic gunshots are heard from time to time at night,” the resident said. “There is a curfew in the city and nobody goes out at night. The occupants have created a kind of territorial defense in the city, which deals with security issues.”

Checkpoints within the city itself have been removed, he said.

“There are only checkpoints at the entrance to the city. At the checkpoint they check the documents and look at what is in the car. If it is public transport, the soldier enters the minibus. It can vary, it all depends of the mood of the occupants. They can start checking phones and forcing men to strip to check for tattoos.”

More young soldiers appear: The resident said that most of the soldiers appear to be in their 30s, but they had started seeing more young men, 18-20 years old.

The Russian authorities continued this Monday trying to restore electricity after the cut this Sunday.

“I believe that electricity and communications will be restored in the near future,” Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the military administration of the Kherson region, said in a video on Telegram on Monday morning. “There is no food problem in the city, there are food products. It is true that some pharmacies are closed, but it is not impossible to obtain social benefits. We also continue to work on this.”

Stremousov said authorities were still offering “evacuation” to the eastern bank of the Dnipro River, including now for bedridden or mobility-impaired civilians.

Evacuation offers such as this have raised concerns 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 had been forcibly sent to so-called “filtration centers” before being transferred to Russia. Moscow denounced the claims as lies, claiming that Ukraine has hampered its efforts to “evacuate” people to Russia.

The Kherson city resident who spoke to CNN viewed the idea of ​​boarding an “evacuation bus” to Crimea as a “one-way ticket.”

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