Ukraine War, April 4, 2022 (I): Front-line reporting on Russian kidnappings and killings of opponents in village between Kherson and Mikolaiv; Chinese domestic propaganda, and indoctrination of cadres, supports Putin and Russia

Dispatches

1) Chris Buckley, “Bristling Against the West, China Rallies Domestic Sympathy for Russia; China’s Communist Party is mounting an ideological campaign aimed at officials and students. The message: The country will not turn its back on Russia,” New York Times, April 4, 2022 (Updated 3:47 p.m. ET);

2) María R. Sahuquillo (Shevchenkove), “El pueblo ucranio de Shevchenkove busca a su alcalde, secuestrado por los rusos; Al menos 29 cargos públicos son capturados por soldados del Kremlin, que buscan sustituirlos por títeres de Moscú,” April 2, 2022 (23:40 EDT)

Commentary

María R. Sahuquillo continues her extraordinary reporting from Shevchenkove, a village of 500 in the South on the front lines between Kherson and Mikolaiv. She recounts the experience of the inhabitants as the town came under Russian occupation. The Russians kidnapped the mayor, Oleg Pilipenko, on March 10, who has not been seen since. They went about kidnapping or killing key townspeople, and anyone who might resist them. She writes:

Revised Google translation

Under explosions and artillery fire, with Vladimir Putin’s troops surrounding the small town of Shevchenkove in southern Ukraine, Mayor and a group of volunteers rushed to fill a small van with food packages and jugs of water. The city of Kherson had fallen into Russian hands and the Kremlin soldiers were trying to continue their advance with blood and fire towards Mikolaiv, as a prelude to launching into Odessa and capturing the entire Black Sea coast.

Shevchenkove was organizing itself well. It had a modest group of militiamen and had turned the church into a warehouse stocked with food and medicine. Several nearby villages, by contrast, were in dire straits, so Pilipenko and his driver stepped forward and headed off to bring help. They were only able to complete the first of the items on their list. Immediately afterwards, they were caught by the Russian Army. The driver was released a week ago. Nothing is known about Mayor Pilipenko, 34, father of three children. He has been held hostage by Russian forces since March 10.

Sahuquillo confirmed that the Russian strategy U.S. intelligence sources had warned of was indeed being implemented. She described it as follows:

Since Putin launched the invasion of Ukraine, his troops have launched a dark strategy of disappearances and kidnappings. Above all, those of mayors, city council members and other public officials from occupied cities and towns, but also those of activists, journalists and anyone who does not accept the new rules imposed by the invading forces. At least 29 mayors have been kidnapped since February 24, according to the Ukrainian government. Some have been replaced by Moscow puppets. As in Melitopol, a city of 150,000 inhabitants. Earlier, Russian troops kidnapped its mayor, Ivan Fedorov, as he was walking down the street on March 11. They put a bag over his head and dragged him away. He was held five days. Until the Ukrainian government exchanged him for nine Russian soldiers between the ages of 20 and 21.

The reporter describes the unknown fate of the mayor of this little village.

In Shevchenkove, a modest town of 500 inhabitants, with a pharmacy, three stores, two restaurants and a liquor store, a police officer explains that the authorities have no information on Pilipenko. The driver who hardly leaves his house since he was released, cannot talk about the case. Not just because he hasn’t recovered yet. Above all, because of safety. The mayor’s wife, Tanya Pilipenko, has called for the mayor to be released, but her case has far less resonance than Fedorov’s. “He went to distribute bread and didn’t come back. Please, I ask everyone who is interested in him to help in the search for him. We need him at home,” she pleaded on her social networks.

As Sahuquillo reported on March 23, after recounting another personal tragedy,

Poleshuk, the medical director of the center, looking at Nina, says: “The war is not a country. It is the story of each person. It is each one of us.”

The Trenchant Observer

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