Oleksiy Kovalev used to be a member of President Volodymyr Zelensky’s political party, but he switched sides during the invasion. He began to cooperate with the Russians, who installed him in the occupation administration of the Kherson region. At the end of August, the politician was found shot dead. In the past month alone, Kovalev became the ninth victim of an assassination attempt on Russian collaborators in the occupied territories of Ukraine.
Kovalev died on August 28 in his home near Kherson. At the same time, he became the target of assassination at the beginning of June, when someone tried to blow up his car. The pro-Russian politician was only lucky and ended up in hospital.
A few days after this bombing, they appeared on the Internet shots from the hospital, where he comments on the whole situation. “I’m alive, I’m healthy. I’m going to go back to work on Monday. To my enemies and to those who planned this sabotage: you will not stop me,” he claimed in the video.
The second assassination was already successful. Thirty-three-year-old Kovalev, who was engaged in agriculture in the pro-Russian government in Kherson and had previously been accused by Kyiv of treason, succumbed to gunshot wounds on the spot. His wife, stabbed in the neck, ended up in the hospital.
According to the independent website WarTranslated, which reports on the war in Ukraine, during August, nine Ukrainian collaborators with the occupation forces died in assassinations. Most of the assassinations took place in Russian-controlled Kherson, where tensions continue to rise in connection with the Ukrainian counter-offensive. Pro-Kremlin operatives are most often shot or die as a result of bomb attacks.
Partisan movements fighting in the occupied territories of Ukraine against collaborators are causing concern in pro-Russian circles. Members of these groups were trained before the start of the invasion and, according to Kyiv, they are a great asset to the Ukrainian army. “The goal is to show the occupiers that they are not at home here, that they should not settle here. That they should not sleep peacefully,” described a partisan who goes by the name Svarog to the American newspaper The New York Times.
For example, the Žovta strička (Yellow Ribbon) resistance movement operates in Kherson and its surroundings. The name is derived from one of the national colors, and the group marks its potential targets with a yellow ribbon.
Zhovta strichka cooperates with the Ukrainian army and helps, for example, in developing the tactics of military actions as well as in special operations. “We give the Ukrainian army the exact coordinates of various targets, thanks to the help of the partisans, the new long-range weapons, especially HIMARS, are even more powerful,” explained Andriy, the coordinator of the partisan movement, to the AP agency. “Behind Russian lines we are invisible – and that is our strength”, he added.
In the region, the Ukrainian army is now conducting a counter-offensive with the aim of recapturing Kherson, which was one of the main targets of the Russian army from the beginning of the invasion and also became the first major city that the Russian army managed to occupy.
Although Kyiv imposed an information embargo on the operation and reports from the ground are very difficult to verify, according to the American Institute for the Study of War, Ukrainian soldiers are demonstrably advancing there. Oleksij Arestovych, an adviser to President Zelensky, said that the armed forces “broke the front line in several places”.
However, Ukraine warned that the results of the offensive may not be immediately visible. The soldiers are said to have a difficult task ahead of them, and the coming harsh winter may also affect the situation on the battlefield.
The occupation administration of the Kherson region also announced on Monday that it was suspending a plan to hold a referendum on the region’s accession to Russia for security reasons. According to the TASS agency, Ukrainian pro-Kremlin politician Kirill Stremousov justified this by saying that the important Antoniv bridge, which connects the two banks of the Dnieper near Kherson, cannot be crossed by car after weeks of Ukrainian shelling.
Russia officially rejects the loss of the conquered territory in the south. The Ministry of Defense continues to say that the Kiev operation has failed and that Ukrainian troops “suffered heavy losses”.
Video: Kherson can be recaptured by the Ukrainians, says an expert
The chances of the Ukrainian army to conquer Kherson are considerable, according to the available information, their offensive is going well. | Video: Michael Rozsypal