In Russian-occupied Kherson, the Russian military intends to quarter its personnel in apartments vacated by Ukrainians who have fled the city, according to local residents. An order dated May 6 has been sighted on social media, signed by Colonel Viktor Bedrik, Kherson Region commandant.
Locals have shared in messengers that armed Russian troops raid apartments and detain men. A resident of Kherson has reported being taken to the basement and beaten up. The Russian military also demanded lists of absent house residents, saying they needed accommodation for “theirs”.
According to a city resident who was willing to talk to The Insider, the superintendent of their quarter (they live in a detached-house district) has told the locals to clean up their front yards and mow the lawns because houses that look abandoned will be seized as accommodation for someone else. The source adds she does not know of any cases of anyone settling in vacant houses. However, she fears such appropriation will begin if the Russian authorities get their hands on the lists of those who left. She also says no one has abandoned their homes in their quarter.
The Insider has not been able to reach the superintendent.
Another local source shared with The Insider that three dozen or so Russian servicemen had broken into multiple apartments in her house, including hers. “My husband, our kid, and I lived in the basement for a long while, barricaded the hall with mattresses, and barely made it out of the city eventually. And now my neighbors are telling me that occupants have broken into my apartment and a few others and intend to stay,” says Kherson resident.
The order that was seen on social media prescribes that “all heads of housing cooperatives present lists of apartments whose owners have left the confines of the city of Kherson, for further use of vacated premises as accommodation for temporarily displaced persons fleeing from active combat zones”.
The order was prepared “in line with efforts to normalize the functioning of public facilities and with approval of the head of the Kherson Region Administration, to the end of creating decent living conditions for persons arriving in Kherson.” The Insider has not been able to verify its authenticity. However, the Chief Intelligence Directorate of the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense confirms the existence of such a directive. They also inform that the occupants are looking for apartments to quarter military personnel and secret services in Tavrychesky and Zhytloselyshche residential areas of Kherson.
Colonel Viktor Bedrik previously headed a brigade of the Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Protection Troops in the Russian Far East (Military Base 07059 in Lesozavodsk, Primorye).
On April 22, a scanned image of a directive lifting curfew in the Kherson Region on Easter Eve was spread across Russian Telegram channels – signed by Colonel Bedrik too. As the Center of Journalist Investigations pointed out, Russian authorities “do their utmost to conceal the names of commandants installed in Kherson Region communities to protect the identity of those responsible for war crimes against civilians committed within the territories entrusted to them”.