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In Ukraine, Vysokopillya, in the Kherson region, another small village ravaged by the Russian occupation

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The small store where children from the school across the street stocked up on sweets has become the epicenter of the village of Vysokopillya, at the entrance to the Kherson region. The innocence and schoolbags of schoolchildren gave way to military vehicles sent to the front line, a few tens of kilometers further south. This is where stories of the Russian occupation have been told since the village was liberated by Ukrainian armed forces in early September.

Kremlin forces arrived in the southern Ukrainian village on March 13. Life under the Russian yoke lasted just under six months.

Some locals lived it from start to finish. The majority left. Volodymyr and Volodymyr spent the occupation in their homes. The first of the two farmers, a 59-year-old man with a shaved head and thick, worn hands, says that he spent six months in his cellar with ten people, without gas or electricity, because it was ” the best solution “. To go out into the streets was to risk never returning home. “The Russians were constantly drunk”, explains the other Volodymyr, 67, his face marked, who adds, by mimicking a syringe that is planted in the arm, that some soldiers were also drugged. The proof, according to him: their dilated pupils. “They could kill you anytime” continues the man, who also refuses to give his surname.

Resident records

The occupying forces were shooting all day. Residents only ventured out to collect water from wells early in the morning, when the soldiers were sleeping. After they woke up, they sometimes entered houses to loot.

“They could show up at any time, very pissed off, they reeked of alcohol and you had to give them everything you had,” recounts the first Volodymyr. The two farmers had personal belongings and their car stolen. The Russians knew exactly who in the village owned what, thanks to collaborators who left with the Russian forces. “We don’t want to give the names of these people,” continues Volodymyr, shaking his head. And then here, “the vast majority of people support Ukraine”.

Also listen Ukrainian counter-offensive: the turning point of the war?

Its namesake tells the story of an acquaintance of his, arrested and detained by the occupiers. During his detention, the man heard the conversations of his jailers and discovered that they had very detailed records on the past of the inhabitants: the names of those who had fought in the Donbass from 2014, former police officers, families with a car… Freed, the man managed to flee the village to resettle in Kryvy Rih, the big city located an hour and a half drive to the north.

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