Russia resorts to terror and arrests to crush pro-Ukraine resistance in Enerhodar
The Russian invaders who have seized control of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and the neighbouring city of Enerhodar have yet again resorted to terror tactics in the face of peaceful Ukrainian resistance. In the morning of 2 April, they waited until the latest peaceful demonstration ended, before moving in with police vans and grabbing residents.
According to the local administration, minutes later, there were loud explosions and mass shelling, with terrified residents running in all directions. Judging by the video widely posted, the Russians used stun grenades and, possibly, smoke bombs. It certainly sounds as though there was also gunfire, however there are no reports of injuries, so this would seem to have been, for now, aimed at intimidation.
Russia does not tolerate any opposition, and swiftly made peaceful protests impossible after invading Crimea and parts of Donbas in 2014. In 2022, the courageous refusal by Ukrainians to accept Russian occupation is also exposing the lies behind Moscow’s narrative about Ukraine and plans for imposing puppet regimes.
On 1 April, the Ukrainian Armed Forces General Headquarters reported that the Russians are holding Enerhodar residents prisoner on the territory of a Ukrainian National Guard unit. The aggressor state, which has been bombing and shelling civilian targets since 24 February, accuses these residents not only of organizing pro-Ukrainian demonstrations but of planning so-called acts of ‘sabotage’ against the invader. The Russian FSB are reported to be interrogating their hostages, applying forms of psychological pressure and physical duress.
They add that residents of Tokman have been informed that the Russians are planning a so-called ‘referendum’ on 4 April.
There have already been attempts to initiate a pseudo referendum and try to establish a fake ‘Kherson people’s republic’, and it would not be surprising if similar plans were underway in the parts of Zaporizhzhia under Russian occupation.
While Russia denies targeting, abducting and / or torturing civilians in this war, the facts are against it. A significant number of public officials, including the mayors of villages or towns, civic activists and at least two journalists, Iryna Dubchenko and Kostiantyn Ryzhenko have been targeted, with members of their families either also seized or taken in their place. Put most bluntly, Russia needs collaborators, and control over the media. In Berdiansk (Zaporizhzhia oblast), it resorted to effectively taking an entire editorial office hostage. This was, however, to no avail as the Ukrainian journalists still refused to collaborate (details here).
In all of these areas, as in the besieged city of Mariupol, Russia is resorting to attacks on TV towers and attempts to take control of the media, as well as primitive propaganda stunts. The General Headquarters notes, for example, efforts by the aggressor who has caused the suffering and destruction to ‘hand out humanitarian aid’.. It points out that, in Zaporizhzhia, they have appropriated Ukrainian humanitarian aid for such propaganda stunts.
There are also attempts underway, including in Melitopol , to impose Russian educational standards and the use of the Russian language upon schools.
The General Headquarters also accuse the invaders of placing artillery systems in residential buildings in Melitopol , from where they can carry out shelling in the Zaporizhzhia direction. This is effectively using civilians as living shields and a serious war crime.