As I report on the aftermath of Russian occupation, there is a new sense that what once seemed impossible can be achieved
At Liberty Square in Kherson, residents gather, trying to find wifi near the temporary wireless internet towers and charging points. There is limited phone connection and no internet to read the news and find out what is going on outside this recently liberated region. During their withdrawal after nine months of occupation, Russian forces blew up the TV tower and the power grid, so there is no electricity to charge devices either.
Yet the mood is celebratory in the square today, as locals wave Ukrainian flags and banners marking the liberation. It has been seven days since Ukrainian troops re-entered the city, but Ukrainian soldiers, police, social services, foreign reporters and anyone who has arrived from outside the city are still greeted warmly.
“I am so happy to be at home,” says one woman. “Home? Are you not from Kherson?” I ask. “At home means in Ukraine,” she says, and hugs me.
Sasha, 13, has come with her father, Viktor, to charge their phones. She has spent the last few days with her classmates from school waving at the military cars passing by. I am struck by her definition of freedom: “When the Russians were here, we had to walk with our heads down, not looking in front of us,” she says. “Now we are back in Ukraine we can raise our heads up and feel we’re free.” Her father nods.
Read the full story in the Guardian here.