- Hundreds of Ukrainians protested against the Russian occupation in the city of Kherson.
- Moscow has claimed control of Kherson, making it the first city to come under Russian control.
- Residents in Kherson told Insider about their defiance and resistance to the Russian invaders.
Ukrainians took to the streets in Kherson to bravely protest against Russian occupation, as war rages throughout the country.
Videos posted on social media show hundreds of Ukrainians marching through Kherson’s city center on Saturday, waving flags and chanting slogans.
The BBC estimated that up to 2,000 people participated in the protests.
—Bojan Pancevski (@bopanc) March 5, 2022
Earlier this week Moscow claimed to have taken control of the strategic port city Kherson, making it the first city to come under Russian control.
One video from Saturday appears to show a protester carrying a Ukrainian flag climbing on top of a Russian armored vehicle.
—Громадське радіо (@HromadskeRadio) March 5, 2022
Another video shows people in Kherson waving Ukrainian flags and chanting “fascists.”
Photos show protesters holding signs reading, “Kherson is Ukraine,” which has become a slogan of unity and resistance.
“We had a big protest with flags and many people who were not afraid of the Russians,” Jane Belonogova, a resident of Kherson, told Insider.
“They tried to shoot into the air to frighten people, but they weren’t afraid and kept coming to the square.”
Belonogova said that although explosions could be heard regularly in the city, and residents were dealing with shortages of food and supplies, the people of Kherson remained resolute.
“The first two, three days, it was a shock. But later you understand that you will live in your country and you will wait for our soldiers to give us freedom and take all the occupants out,” she said.
—Iuliia Mendel (@IuliiaMendel) March 5, 2022
Although Moscow has claimed control of Kherson, some residents in the Ukrainian city said the situation on the ground is less clear-cut.
According to Don Flett, 75, an American civil engineer based in Kherson, the Ukrainian flag is still flying in front of the city’s main government building.
“They’re reporting that we have surrendered. When…we have not even yet begun to fight,” Flett told Insider.
On Wednesday, Kherson’s mayor Igor Kolykhaev wrote in a Facebook post that there had been “armed visitors in the city council today” and outlined new rules including a 20:00 to 06:00 curfew.
“So far this is how it is. Ukrainian flag above us. And to keep it the same, these requirements must be met. I have nothing else to offer yet,” he wrote.
On Saturday, Kolykhaev addressed the protesters in a Facebook post.
“I can neither ban you rallies nor allow you to organize. I will always worry about your lives and I will always ask you to be careful,” he said.
Sources in Kherson confirmed to Insider that the Russian military yesterday appeared to have brought in bus-loads of people to pose as locals and stage a pro-Russia protest welcoming the Russian troops.
Kherson residents came out in full force to show their unequivocal opposition to the Russian invaders.
Russian troops also took control of a TV tower in Kherson, and Jane Belonogova said that her TV channels were now entirely Russian, with the exception of one Ukrainian channel.
“Maybe they thought that Russian people can only see what’s on TV. But we see everything,” Belonogova told Insider..