Ukraine says Russian forces violently disperse Kherson protest

Ukrainian armed forced says Russian troops used stun grenades and gunfire to disperse a crowd of hundreds protesters.

Ukraine’s armed forces have said Russian troops used stun grenades and gunfire to disperse a rally of pro-Ukrainian protesters in the occupied southern city of Kherson.

Video footage showed several hundred protesters in the city’s Freedom Square on Monday running to escape as projectiles landed around them. Loud bangs can be heard and there are clouds of whitish smoke. Gunfire can also be heard.

“Russian security forces ran up, started throwing stun grenades into the crowd and shooting,” the Ukrainian armed forces’ news service said in a statement, adding that at least one person was wounded but that it was unclear how they received the injuries.

CCTV footage appears to show Russian troops, top, near building, firing stun grenades into a crowd of protesters in Kherson [Reuters]

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba posted a video on Twitter, showing a man with an armband of the Ukrainian flag wounded by gunfire.

Continuous shooting could be heard in the video, which showed blood on the ground and people carrying flags running and rushing to help the man. The person taking the video said the man is a pensioner. The video showed some protesters returning to the square. One man in a black hat strolled back, stopped across the road from Russian troops and stood there on his own, holding a small Ukrainian flag above his head.

Russia did not immediately comment on the incident. Moscow has denied targeting civilians.

A demonstrator gestures as others, displaying Ukrainian flags, chant "go home" and walk towards Russian military vehicles at a pro-Ukraine rally amid Russia's invasion, in Kherson, Ukraine March 20, 2022
A demonstrator gestures as others, displaying Ukrainian flags, chant ‘go home’ and walk towards Russian military vehicles [Reuters]

Kherson, a city of approximately 250,000 people, is situated near Crimea, a peninsula annexed by Russia in 2014 and one of the directions from which Moscow invaded Ukraine late last month.

It was the first big urban centre to fall to Russian forces, with Moscow capturing it within the first week of its invasion.

Since then, groups of residents have staged regular rallies in the centre of Kherson, protesting against the occupation and showing their support for the government in Kyiv by waving Ukrainian flags.

Earlier this month, the Ukrainian authorities said members of Russia’s National Guard had detained more than 400 people in Kherson region for protesting against the occupation. It accused Russia of trying to create a police state there.

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