Medals, road signs and statues were among the first symbols of Russia’s capture of parts of southern Ukraine, and in particular Mariupol.
This week, medals were awarded “for the liberation of Mariupol” by the leader of the so-called Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Denis Pushilin, and a senior member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, Andrei Turchak.
The DPR worked hard to change road signs from Ukrainian to Russian, especially those at the entrance to Mariupol.
The southeastern port city has been under siege for several weeks, with efforts now focusing on the Avostal steelworks. On Thursday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said The Russian forces “did not stop” their bombardment of the factory.
The factory has now been evacuated as civilians and soldiers remain trapped inside, with the “next step” underway, according to Andriy Yermak, head of the Ukrainian president‘s office. More than 300 evacuees from the Mariupol region arrived in the city of Zaporizhzhia on Wednesday.
The DPR’s transport ministry promised on Thursday that work to replace road signs in what they call the liberated territories would continue. A statue was also erected in Mariupol, depicting an elderly woman holding the Soviet flag.
Petro Andrushchenko, adviser to the mayor-elect of Mariupol, spoke bitterly about the growing number of Russian officials visiting Mariupol, including Sergey Kiriyenko, a senior Kremlin official, describing them as “conservatives of Mariupol’s integration into Russia”.
Referring to the new statue, Andrushcheko said the Russians had opened a monument “to an old lady with a flag in the Square of the Liberators of Warriors, which they stubbornly call the Leninist Komsomol”.
Andrushchenko also distributed new photographs Friday, stating that “in recent days all the monuments of the Soviet period have been ‘restored’: the so-called ‘fists’ with eternal fire – and the signs that say ‘To the victims of fascism’ in the Russian language.” [Also the] monument to “members of the Komsomol and communists” in the Primorsky district.”
Although not in Mariupol, Andruschenko maintains ties with people still there and claims that the Russian flag was also raised at the city hospital and displayed a photo.
“The occupiers have allowed doctors to work for the people of Mariupol. Medical staff and doctors live directly in the hospital, there is only outpatient care. The hospital is supplied with light by generators, in water – by water carriers.”
He also published a brief video shot from a vehicle on Prospect Myru showing debris collection. Like other Ukrainian officials, Andrushchenko claimed that “the work of recovering corpses from the rubble is entrusted to the residents of Mariupol. Their payment – food”.
On the road to Zaporizhzhia from Mariupol, a route that most of those trying to flee Mariupol have to take, is the town of Tokmak, also under Russian occupation. The entrance sign to the city has been repainted with the Russian tricolor.
Elsewhere in southern Ukraine, the ruble is gradually being introduced. According to a community group on Facebook, government employees in the town of Yakymivka have been told that if they want to be paid in Ukrainian hryvnia “the occupiers will take two-thirds”. salary.”