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Russia: ‘Didn’t think we would live to see such a day’ – Shebekinsky district residents evacuated to Belgorod

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Residents of the Shebekinsky district settled in a temporary accommodation centre (TAC) at the Belgorod Arena stadium, as footage filmed on Friday shows. Valentina Kotlyar, a pensioner, said that the evacuees were being treated well and were promised relocation from the sports complex in two days. « Of course, we didn’t think we would live to see such a day, that we would give up everything we had gained. I will be 68 years old in two months. I left everything behind – I came here with what I was wearing. <…> They serve at the highest level. I never expected that we would be treated this way. They would transfer us in two days, they said, » the woman shared. Another respondent, Lyubov Gaivoronskaya, said that almost all residents of the village she lived in agreed to evacuate voluntarily, however, her children decided to stay behind to look after the household. « He [the woman’s son] got chickens, broilers. You can’t leave them behind, 30 of them. Another man [the woman’s son] also sent his wife to Belgorod, and he also got chickens and… simple laying hens and broilers. And the two of them stayed there on the same street, » she added. Belgorod region Governor Vyacheslav Gladkov announced on Friday the evacuation of 2,500 residents of the town of Shebekino to temporary accommodation centres set up in sports facilities across the region. The governor also said that heavy shelling of Shebekino and other parts of the Belgorod region had been taking place since the beginning of the week. According to the latest reports, dozens of people were injured. Shelling of a section of road in Maslova Pristan village in the Shebekinsky district on Friday killed two women, while two more people died after shells hit a residential area of the village of Sobolevka in the Valuysky district. Damage to residential buildings, administrative and commercial buildings, as well as cars, has been recorded. Moreover, Shebekino is completely without electricity and water supply. At the time of publication, the Ukrainian side had not commented on the shelling in the Belgorod region. Regarding the drone attacks on Moscow earlier in the week, Ukrainian presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said that Kiev had nothing to do with them directly, adding ‘of course, we enjoy watching and predicting an increase in attacks.’ On Wednesday, the White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said that the US ‘does not support attacks inside of Russia’. On Thursday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that ‘Ukraine has the right to defend itself’ and that the alliance would continue supporting Kiev ‘for as long as it takes’. Moscow launched a military offensive in Ukraine in late February 2022 after recognising the independence of the Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics (DPR and LPR), claiming that Kiev had failed to guarantee their special status under the 2014 Minsk Agreements, and urging Ukraine to declare itself officially neutral and give assurances that it would never join NATO. Kiev denounced the Russian action as an invasion. Zelensky imposed martial law throughout the country, announcing a general mobilisation, while the EU and the US imposed several rounds of sanctions on Moscow.

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