The independent outlet Verstka on Wednesday published interviews with several residents who say a Russian border guard was killed last week when the governor claimed to have fended off a Ukrainian attack.
“Even the local newspaper wrote that there were no fatalities. There was not a word about the death, but more than a thousand people came to the funeral,” Tatyana Pashechko was quoted saying of her brother, Sergei Listratenko.
Listratenko was reportedly killed by a mine after locals were told “Ukrainian nationalists” launched an unsuccessful attack. Pashechko said she believes local officials are trying to hide her brother’s death to prevent panic.
But many residents are already panicking, and three different villages got together earlier this week to vent their frustrations at a public gathering, Verstka reports.
After apparently shrugging their shoulders as Russian forces spent more than a year bombing Ukrainian civilians, some residents complained to the local paper that they now feel like targets.
“What if they come at night? We’ll all be killed,” one woman was quoted saying.
“I am speaking now on behalf of all the inhabitants of the villages: why did we decide to hold a gathering? Because this is a cry from the soul. We are scared and don't know what to do. We do not have a single checkpoint, there are no warnings of shelling. We don’t have bomb shelters, and our basements aren’t meant to hide in. … The governor says that everything is fine and wonderful here,”resident Anna Astapova told Verstka, adding that people were fed-up with the “lies” of local authorities.
After the public meeting, there were reportedly calls for participants to face criminal charges for “discrediting” the military.
Perhaps with that in mind, Astapova said: “We support and respect the army and President Vladimir Vladimirovich [Putin]. But what’s happening now is total disarray. So let’s keep quiet, and then tomorrow what? They will just come and mine the whole village or cut us all to hell. It’s terribly frightening.”