Concern and mistrust as Ukraine searches treason in the east.

Ukrainian forces were still fending off an almost continuous barrage of artillery fire by Russian troops north of the settlement

Concern and mistrust as Ukraine searches treason in the east

KUTUZIVKA, Ukraine, July 28 (Reuters) 4:58 PM - The danger of Russian infiltration spreads east, far from the capital, as Ukraine searches for traitors. In eastern Ukraine, where accusations of treachery perpetrated by locals split once-occupied communities like Kutuzivka, a peaceful hamlet east of Kharkiv, where indications of a recent Russian presence are pervasive, the sense of paranoia is at its darkest. When Reuters arrived at the end of May, Ukrainian forces were still fending off an almost continuous barrage of artillery fire by Russian troops north of the settlement, while stray dogs roamed across broken glass and the sound of gunfire echoed overhead the source claims.

Early in March, Russian forces entered Kutuzivka and swiftly established a local puppet government. When Russian forces knocked on Nataliia Kyrychenko's door, a 55-year-old farmer in the area, she was hiding in her home with her neighbors. Villagers said a Russian officer called Kyrychenko and her neighbors outside and told them that Nadiia Antonova, a local, would now be in charge of the community.

According to Reuters, Kyrychenko said that she was questioned by Russian troops regarding her son-in-law, a member of the Ukrainian police, for two days. According to Kyrychenko's account, the soldiers informed her that Antonova had told them about her son-in-law and charged her with serving as a spotter for Ukrainian troops, charged with keeping tabs on the activities of Russian soldiers.

She admitted, "I honestly didn't believe I would return when the Russian soldiers dragged me away. I found it hard to comprehend that a member of our community would report me. Kyrychenko was ultimately let go. When Reuters asked Russian authorities at the Kremlin about the situation, they did not answer. Late in April, Ukraine freed Kutuzivka by effectively driving out Russian soldiers. Antonova's cooperation with Russian forces led to her speedy detention and criminal inquiry. If found guilty, she could spend more than a decade in prison. Reuters inquiried and did not find any answers from Antonova's attorney.

President Volodymyr Zelenskiy discussed the severe toll that Russian infiltration was having on the nation in a speech earlier this month. Some situations fell into the grey area below the highest levels of treason that he mentioned. These situations can vary from those who share material that is pro-Russian on social media to people who assist Russian occupation forces in any way. Yevhen Yenin, the first deputy minister of the internal affairs ministry in charge of the national police, claimed that the public played a very large part in notifying the police and alerting us to saboteurs. Although the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) is technically in charge of looking into such situations, the police have mostly taken on the practical role of obtaining information, according to Yenin.

According to the internal affairs ministry, more than 1,000 persons have been detained by the National Police so far on suspicion of carrying out sabotage and reconnaissance tasks for the Russian government. Four police officers in Kharkiv, Ukraine, started their night patrol immediately after the city's 10 p.m. curfew in late May. Kharkiv is located approximately 40 kilometers from the Russian border. The police patrolled the city's nighttime streets, flaunting AKs and donning bulletproof vests. When we stop someone, Tymur, who declined to offer his last name, added, "We attempt to understand where they reside, to identify who they are, and if they speak Ukrainian or not." As an air raid siren honked above, their automobile accelerated.

The case of Antonova has generated interest in Russia. Editor-in-chief of the Russian official media network RT, Margarita Simonyan, claimed on national television that Antonova had aided the Russian operation and was now unfairly being punished. "We need to praise those who deserve it and save those we can," Simonyan remarked. The complexity of these instances is demonstrated by several locals' who claim that Antonova is ruled out. They claim that throughout the occupation, Antonova ensured that the peasants had food and shielded them from abuse by Russian forces.

One resident exclaimed outside a kindergarten where a dozen locals still live underground, "Can you call this collaboration when the Russians are placing their rifles against her back?" Oleksandr Filchakov, the regional head prosecutor, said that there was proof that Antonova had given the enemy intelligence that had killed Ukrainians. While acknowledging some peasants' sentiments, Filchakov insisted that Ukraine required justice. She needs to be held accountable, he added.



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