Deoccupied Balakliya. Photos

For half a year, the Russian occupation killed ⅔ of the population of the city of Balakliya in the Kharkiv region
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The offensive-liberation operation of the Armed Forces of Ukraine began from the city of Balakliya

On March 2, the Russians occupied the city. On September 8, the Ukrainian army liberated Balakliya. On September 10, the Ukrainian flag was again raised over the city.

Before the Russian occupation, 10.000 Ukrainians lived in the city. From the first days, the Russians hunted the male population of men: searched, imprisoned, held captive, beaten and tortured, killed. Women were terrorized and raped. Now only ⅔ of the population remains in the city.

Because of the shelling, the city has had no electricity, water or communications since March.

The city is destroyed and mined. But now its inhabitants are free. Ukraine began to restore communications, brought food and medicine for residents, began operations to fix the crimes of Russia and exhume the murdered Ukrainians.

"When the Russians came, they stole all the food from the shops and houses where they climbed. And they killed all the animals from the farm," Olga Panchenko, a resident of the village of Verbovka near Balakleya.

A local resident, who identified himself as Ivan, told how people were starving during the occupation.

"Whatever someone had in the cells, they ate. As soon as the light appeared, it banged somewhere and again, we sat without light for 10-15 days. And now there is no light," Ivan, the village of Verbovka.

"When our people came in… I live next to the ring road, where the machinery was running, I ran through the garden. I look: these guys are sitting on top of military vehicles, we are waving to them. They opened the flag. It was a joy! My heart was bursting with happiness: thank God, our people have returned," Natalya Zasadchenko, a resident of the liberated city.

"The first joy that I had from the news of my dismissal was replaced by other feelings, because when I arrived and saw people ... People have aged terribly over these six months. Without medical help. Without proper nutrition," Stepan Maselsky, head of the Izyum district military administration (Balakliya is part of the Izyum district - ed.)

The exact number of those injured and killed at the hands of the Russians is unknown, people disappeared from the streets and never returned home

"Someone managed to leave for Europe through the territory of Russia. But many people disappeared in Balakliya at the very beginning of the invasion, and to this day, we have no information about them", Stepan Maselsky.

"People were beaten, tortured by applying a voltage to their fingers. The invaders suspected someone of helping the Armed Forces of Ukraine, someone was simply a relative of an ATO/JFO participant, a Ukrainian flag was found at someone's house," Serhii Bolvinov, head of the Investigation Department of the National Police in the Kharkiv region.

In early September, Ukraine launched a counter-offensive operation to liberate the Kharkiv region. During the offensive of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, more than 300 settlements were liberated, particularly Balakliya, Izium, Kupyansk, Volchansk, the villages of Bolshoi Burluk and Dvurechnaya. More than 150.000 Ukrainians who were hostages of the Russian occupiers became free.

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