Kherson residents look for water and telephone services along the riverbank

Kherson residents look for water and telephone services along the riverbank


Just days after Russian forces withdrew, residents descend a few steps and balance precariously over the edge of a concrete pillar to scoop up yellowish river water in Kherson.

With their water supply cut off for several days, people in the important southern city have to resort to the Dnipro River for their needs.

Before withdrawing from the regional hub on Friday after an eight-month occupation, Russian forces destroyed power infrastructure that also affected water supplies.

“A week ago the water supply system was damaged. Since then we have had no electricity or water, so let’s come here and get water for washing,” said Tatyana, who came on foot with her daughter and son.

From their trolley they get several large plastic bottles, which they want to fill up despite the presence of Russian troops on the other side of the river.

It is a complicated task, especially for the elderly, as the pier is high above the water and residents have to kneel.

They use buckets, funnels – even a milk carton on a string to scoop up the water.

“It was five days without water and a week without electricity. I knew that could happen, so I stocked up on water,” said Olga Genkulova, 41, as she packed bottles into her car in the busy riverside parking lot.

One man, a cafe owner, packed a dozen large bottles into his truck, which he said he would share with his neighbors.

Residents of the city, which had a population of 280,000 before the war, will also go to drinking water reservoirs, and some bottled water is still available in stores.

– Destroyed Bridge –

Best known for its shipyards, Kherson has a river port that has been idle since the beginning of the war, when traffic along the Dnipro River, which also crosses Kyiv, dried up.

A little further upstream, next to a World War II memorial, another group of residents could be seen staring at their phones.

Shortly after Russian troops captured Cherson in March, Moscow cut telephone connections in Ukrainian networks.

But near the monument, residents can pick up Russian phone signals from across the river. The networks have no names, only numbers – 2494 and 2596.

Vita Morzhiveska, 55, spoke to her children while her husband listened.

“You are in Crimea,” she said, referring to the peninsula annexed by Moscow in 2014.

“They left at the beginning of the war… They wanted to come back in August but didn’t make it,” she said.

“They were about to cross the Antonivsky Bridge, but they came under fire.

The bridge spans the Dnipro on the north-eastern outskirts of the city and is the last crossing before the river empties into the Black Sea.

While under Russian control, it was hit by Ukrainian missiles and then blown up by Russian forces as they retreated.

A cloud of black smoke could be seen on the other side of the river above the Russian-occupied village of Oleshki on Monday.

Most likely, it was the result of the outgoing Ukrainian artillery fire, which was periodically heard around Kherson.

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