(Prints size 80x114 cm, 50x70 cm)
The Russian flags fly over most of the city's administrative buildings. Yesterday the city mayor Igor Kolykhaev was forced out as well. The Russians replaced him with Alexander Kobetz. The governor of our “bright future” became a man from a dark past, well known to the people of Kherson, ex-mayor Volodymyr Saldo. Physically, he did not die yet, but politically he died back in 2014. Now he has the opportunity to thank his former voters, who brought him to power more than once, with his contribution to the theater of the absurd and possible forced mobilization.
At night, something huge and loud landed into the city. It is not clear why and where it came from, it shattered windows in many buildings. Considering the prompt appearance of a Russian TV journalist, who arrived at the site faster than the MARVEL superhero in a clean ironed shirt and cameraman, the event was most probably staged. Moreover, it was warming up, because the highlight of the program was burning reeds. A gorgeous view of the fire was opening from the “Arrestantka” waterfront. Since cinemas and shopping centers in the city are closed or destroyed, remaining residents have left their cozy and pseudo-safe apartments in search of free entertainment. We started our journey from a rather crowded main street, accompanied by the sounds of the post-war Okean Elzy band (and not Oleg Gazmanov) playing in the municipal speakers. Closer to Ushakov Ave, beckoning clouds of thick black smoke were already visible. Intrigued by the overnight landing, the residents followed it like a beacon, hoping to see a Russian military facility or equipment engulfed in flames. But at the end of the journey, disappointment awaited them: "It's just a reed". The Russian military mixed with the crowd and also watched the scene on their biological screens. They were guarding a flying red flag near the “eternal flame” monument with the entire crew of their “Ural”.
In a parallel universe, but in the same place, thousands of residents, seized by the fear of an impending referendum, at their own peril and risk, tried to leave the region for the controlled territory. They had a completely different movie on their screens. Despite the fact that officially the Russians do not let them out of the region, the most persistent still manage to achieve what they want. Somebody spent six nights under shelling in their cars in villages destroyed by artillery, for someone the passage cost money, phones and personal belongings, and for someone even freedom. People are stopped and checked at numerous checkpoints and by groups of soldiers wandering along the road. They see their own film about the Nazis and their accomplices. Each inspection usually ends with brainwashing, confiscation of cigarettes, food or a certain amount of money, especially if the men do not have a military ID. The paradox of this plot is that people often end up in the very movie they are running from. Can a referendum be held in Kherson? I do not see any trace of its preparation or support from the local population. All that can happen at this moment is a film about a referendum for viewers of a TV series about a special operation and liberation. Those who do not fight for minds and hearts need only a territory. For dozen “useful idiots” supported by “Urals” with personnel to guard each waving flag of the sixth part of the land in which there is no place for people.
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