KYIV (Reuters) -Calls by a Russian-installed official for residents to flee the Russian-occupied Kherson region of southern Ukraine and go to Russia amount to “deportation”, a Ukrainian regional official said on Friday.
Vladimir Saldo, who was appointed head of the region by Moscow after Russian forces seized it early in the war in Ukraine, publicly asked for government help on Thursday in moving civilians out.
Saldo made his appeal following advances by Ukrainian forces in southern Ukraine.
“We understand that there can be no evacuation, this is nothing more than deportation that Saldo calls for,” Serhiy Khlan, a member of Kherson’s regional council, told a briefing.
“This ‘evacuation’ announced by Saldo is an evacuation for collaborators and traitors in the region… they want to take these collaborators to Russia,” Khlan said.
Most of the Kherson region was seized in the first days of Russia’s invasion as it sent in troops from adjoining Crimea.
It is one of four partly occupied Ukrainian regions that Russia proclaimed as its own last month in a move overwhelmingly condemned by Kyiv and by the U.N. General Assembly.
“The occupiers understand that they will not be able to hold on for long, especially on the right bank (of the Dnipro River) and in the city of Kherson,” Khlan said.
(Reporting by Max Hunder, Editing by Timothy Heritage)