Ordinary citizens in cities like Mariupol and Melitopol have launched a “partisan resistance” to derail the Kremlin’s takeover.
The latest surprise for Russian troops came in Melitopol, where Mayor Ivan Fyodorov said local farmers had caused “mass illness” among Russians by poisoning cherries.
“Our farmers prepared another gift for the [Russians]—recently treated sweet cherries, which caused mass illness among those who stole them from the farmers. It’s the latest kind of partisan resistance on the territory of Melitopol,” Fyodorov told local reporters on Thursday.
He said pro-Ukrainian sentiment remains strong in the city, despite Russian authorities portraying themselves as saviors who “rescued” residents from Ukraine.
“Melitopol residents fully ignored the celebration of Russia Day. The whole country saw—last Sunday only 15 people out of 70,000 residents who stayed in the temporarily occupied city stood in line for [Russian] passports,” he said.
Even Russian troops in the Kherson region appear to be keenly aware of the Ukrainian resistance, according to audio released Thursday by Ukraine’s Security Service.
In a nearly two-minute recording of what Ukrainian intelligence describes as an intercepted call between Putin’s troops, a man identified as a soldier tells his friends the guys on the front line there are “going crazy.”
“Where they are located… no one is sure about the locals: who they are, what they’re doing. Maybe they are fucking with us at night, while they’re peaceful people during the day. No one can be trusted. An old woman walking around with pies might be a fucking colonel acting as an artillery spotter at night.”
Russian authorities have begun opening up passport processing centers in the occupied territories, and in Kherson, residents were informed this week that any babies born after Feb. 24 would automatically be given Russian passports, Russia’s RIA-Novosti news agency reported.
But Ukrainian residents are not letting them get off easy for the forced “Russification.” A new report by the Institute for the Study of War this week listed a series of recent guerrilla-style attacks by Ukrainian partisans in cities including Berdyansk and Mariupol.
“Russian authorities are continuing to face difficulties implementing their occupation agendas due to pro-Ukrainian pressure in occupied areas,” the report noted, describing teachers “refusing to teach under Russian curricula” in Berdyansk and “unidentified Ukrainian partisans” targeting staffers of Russia’s Emergency Ministry in Mariupol.
Petro Andriushchenko, an aide to the Mariupol mayor, described the latter incident in a post on Telegram on Wednesday.
He said two tractors and three large truck trailers parked outside the Russian Emergency Ministry’s headquarters “suddenly” went up in flames on July 9 due to an arson attack.
Two days later, he said, on the eve of the city’s “Day of Russia” celebrations, a staffer for the same ministry was stabbed in the back while standing in a crowd.
“The injury turned out to be fatal,” he said. “We’re talking to you, scum. Start looking behind you. Retribution is already near.”