A CNN team visiting the newly liberated southern Ukrainian town of Snihurivka on Friday witnessed the elation of residents at being free of Russian occupation.
The CNN team described a party atmosphere in town, with residents greeting each other with hugs on the streets.
“As you drive into the town here, Everyone’s waving, everyone’s happy,” CNN’s Nic Robertson reports.
But residents have “horror stories” to tell about their treatment by the Russians — especially from the past few days.
Snihurivka, in Ukraine’s Mykolaiv region, lies on one of the main roads to Kherson city, in the neighboring Kherson region. It was on Thursday morning confirmed to have been liberated by Ukrainian forces.
A large crowd was gathered in the central square. Some residents draped themselves in Ukrainian flags. Others broke down in tears recalling the ordeal of Russian occupation.
A month ago, someone was shot for raising a Ukrainian flag, teenagers told CNN’s Nic Robertson.
“The situation for people here is really difficult — there’s no electricity, there’s no gas,” Robertson reported.
Reports of looting and torture: Residents described widespread looting by Russian troops, and the CNN team saw a ransacked local bank.
“What’s happened in this town over the past few days is the Russians knew they were going to pull out, there was widespread looting, vehicles looted, we’ve been to the bank here — it’s completely ransacked and looted,” Robertson reported.
“The police station here, we’re told, was used as a base of torture,” he added.
A 15-year-old girl told Robertson that in the last few days of Russians being in the area, she was taken away with a hood put over her head, and spent the days fearing she would be raped. She was released yesterday, he reported.
“This is a town that is only just now getting to grips with the idea of liberation, of what it means to be free, of what it means not to have Russian rule here,” he added.