Nov 15, 2022

Zelenskyy makes surprise visit to Kherson after city freed from Russian control Transcript

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Ukrainian President Zelenskyy made a surprise visit to Kherson after it was retaken from Russia. Jubilation in the streets has been almost non-stop since the Russians fled late last week. Read the transcript here.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):

As we reported, Ukraine’s president made a surprise visit to Kherson, the largest city retaken to date from Russia. There was jubilation in the streets that has been almost nonstop since the Russians fled late last week. But after almost eight months of occupation, accounts of Russian brutality mirror the experiences of many other Ukrainians freed from Russian control. Special correspondent, Jack Houston, and videographer, Ed Ram, report from Kherson.

Jack Houston (00:31):

Free to play again. Russia’s loss of Kherson is an embarrassment to Putin, but after eight months of occupation, for these children, it’s a cause of joy. Residents are out in force and there’s a surprise guest that their party. Keen to cash in on this strategic victory, President Zelenskyy had bullish words for his people.

Volodymyr Zelenskyy (00:54):

We are going forward. We are ready for peace, but our peace for our country is all our country, all our territory. We respect the law and respect sovereignty of all the countries.

Jack Houston (01:10):

Hundreds of people have turned out here into Kherson’s Central Square for the surprise visit of President Zelenskyy. He’s a symbol of defiance for them and he had defiant words, but you can tell from the distant sound of shelling that this war is far from over. The US estimates Ukrainian military losses that over 100,000 men, but Kherson’s liberation has buoyed the nation’s spirits.

Natalya (01:39):

Delight! We felt at home again. We hid this feeling and now that we’ve revived it, we are immensely happy. We have been waiting for this day for all nine months.

Jack Houston (01:53):

Smiles but trauma simmers beneath. The jubilation is underwritten by relief. Allegations of Russian abuses abound. Arbitrary detention, abduction, torture. For 22 year old, Igor, the occupation was brutal. He endured two days of hell in a Russian police locker.

Igor (02:17):

I was electrocuted and kicked with arms, legs, and sticks. My back didn’t heal up after the injuries. They are inhumane, that’s all I can say. They don’t feel compassion. They don’t have any feelings for people at all. They treat us like animals. They tortured us. Those screams from the basements, it was painful just to hear how they torture our people.

Jack Houston (02:42):

For others in Kherson and Mykolaiv region, the torture has been the separation from their loved ones. Friends and families are now being reunited in the newly liberated villages. Sergiy hasn’t been back to his home for six months. He greets loved ones, friends. And then he spots his grandmother, the person he’s come back for.

Sergiy (03:10):

I’m overwhelmed with joy.

Jack Houston (03:15):

Reunions like this are happening across the province. Morale being built with every embrace.

Sergiy (03:26):

I want to tell everyone that you should never be afraid, especially when someone comes to your house. You should protect it, protect your rights, defend your honor and dignity. The most I want to say is not to be afraid of anyone. This Russia is worth nothing.

Jack Houston (03:43):

With winter coming, people are desperate for aid to feed themselves and most of all, to heat their homes. For all the suffering of war, there’s no appetite to back down. In Kherson City, most so they must fight on to retake all their lost territory. International pressure may force them to negotiate, but for now, they believe that Ukraine can not only withstand Russia, they believe Ukraine can win. For the PBS News Hour, I’m Jack Houston in Kherson City, Ukraine

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