According to Russia-backed troops that have taken control of Kherson in southern Ukraine, the Russian rouble will be used starting Sunday.
However, Kherson’s Ukrainian mayor, Ihor Kolykhaiev, who was recently deposed by Russian authorities, has stated that he does not believe this will be feasible because the region’s sole functioning financial system is Ukrainian, not Russian. Despite having been occupied for 60 days, many inhabitants are attempting to find modest methods to resist Russian soldiers, such as turning any roubles they get back into the hryvnia, Ukraine’s currency.
Why the letter ‘Z’?
Around the city, Z signs – a Russian pro-war emblem – have sprouted. Above the government buildings in Kherson, Russian flags fly. The majority of Ukrainian television has been turned off and replaced with Russian news. Between a network of checkpoints, Russian soldiers drive armored vehicles into the city center. Changing the currency of the region is now another attempt to eliminate Ukrainian identity from the city.
“I believe the majority of people would leave if the rouble is implemented,” Olga, who did not want to be identified, told me from inside Kherson. “There are still money exchangers functioning in the city at the time. If I get paid in roubles, I believe I will simply trade them for hryvnia, and I believe others will do the same. It’s only a modest gesture of defiance.”
Kherson Under Attack
Olga isn’t the only one who has come up with this scheme. According to Ukrainian press sources, some pensions were given out in roubles in Kherson, but people had already swapped them for Ukrainian hryvnia. Kherson is becoming increasingly tough to live in. Many people are now apprehensive about chatting with a journalist. When we approach Olga and inquire about her well-being, she sighs.
According to the mayor, almost 40% of the population has fled in the two months since Russia seized control of this crucial city. Many locals tell us about how difficult it is to pay for the few available things since grocery shelves are nearly bare. They claim that stores, restaurants, and companies have shuttered and that elements of the economy have come to a standstill as a result of the country’s isolation from the rest of the world.