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Russians Kidnap Pro-Ukrainian Bloggers in Kherson

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After the occupation of Kherson, Russian criminals began to terrorize the local population. In particular, to kidnap people. Thus, in August, the Russian military kidnapped a kindergarten teacher Olena Naumova. The woman used to run a TikTok channel and ridicule the attempts of Russians to introduce the “Russian world” in Kherson. 

Journalists talked to relatives and friends of the kidnapped teacher. The first thing each of them said about Olena is that she was an open-minded person with a good sense of humor.

“Mom is always positive, loves to make people laugh, beams kindness and optimism. Even before the war, she participated in the “Make a Comedian Laugh” [a comedy TV show]. And she even prepared numbers with her kindergarteners and performed with them on this show,” said Olena’s son Mykola.

Olena Naumova with her students Dmytro Kryvoshyia and Sashko Pushnyi at the “Make a Comedian Laugh” in 2014

Before the war, Olena posted cute, funny, and amusing videos from the kindergarten where she works. Since the beginning of spring, there was a short break when Olena broke her leg and almost stopped posting videos. And since May, her content has become patriotic. In each of her appeals to subscribers, the woman reminded them that Kherson is Ukraine and no matter what the Russians invent, they will not change anything.

However, on August 23, the Day of the Ukrainian Flag, on the eve of Independence Day, the invaders came for Olena.

“At 11:00, armed men in uniform arrived and kidnapped my mother from her own apartment,” said Mykola.

Mykola had gone abroad to work before the war. He learned about the disappearance of his mother a day later from the neighbors. He appealed everywhere: to Iryna Vereshchuk [Deputy PM, Minister of Reintegration], to the police, to the prosecutor’s office, and to volunteers who are engaged in the release of civilians from occupation torture chambers.

Since Olena’s son was unable to look for his mother on his own, another relative came to the rescue.

“In late August, she [the other relative] went to the Russian commandant’s office. She was told that some information could be provided in the sobering center, in the so-called “Sklotary” area in Kherson. The Russian unit that deals with civilians is stationed there. The relative was not allowed inside the unit, but she was told through the intercom that Olena Naumova was not there”, Mykola said.   

He also noted that the invaders used Olena’s phone to bait other pro-Ukrainian Kherson residents.

“An unfamiliar woman wrote to me. She said that her son, who lives in Kherson and was supposedly Olena’s moderator on her live streams, disappeared the next day, on August 24. According to her, he received a message about the meeting from my mother’s phone number. He left and did not return. I am 100% sure that it was the Russian military who sent the text message,” said Olena’s son.

Mykola Naumov does everything to return his mother from captivity

Two weeks later, on September 6, Olena was released. 

“She was released, as they said “under house arrest” with the condition that she would not communicate with anyone. They promised that she would be able to leave the occupation. At the same time, all her documents were taken away,” Mykola said.

At that time, for the safety of herself and others, the woman was not at home, but in another city. Her “overseers” visited her almost every day.  

Two weeks later, on September 19, Olena was supposed to leave.

“On the 19th the “overseers” asked if Olena was ready to leave. She answered yes. Somewhere during this period, a video appeared on her TikTok, in which she seemed to apologize to the Russians and said that Kherson was Russia. Since then, she has not been in touch, she is not in the place where she used to live. Her things are there, but the mother is not”, the son of the kidnapped teacher said.

Olena before and after the abduction

In the video with the apology, Olena looks like a woman tortured by the enemy, exhausted, with blue circles under her eyes.

Videos with almost identical text and the same background were released by two other Kherson bloggers “Olehivna” and “Koshmarik”, who disappeared around the same time as Olena.

“These videos with an apology from “Olehivna” and “Koshmarik” were released almost at the same time as my mother’s. Then they were all deleted. I managed to save only the video with my mother”, her son said.

Kidnapped Kherson bloggers: Olehivna, Olena Naumova and Koshmarik

Currently, there is no information about Olena. Mykola continues to search for his mother and calls on all her subscribers and all Ukrainians to help him.

“I am grateful to everyone for their support and help in spreading information about my mother. Her release after the first captivity is our shared victory (not the first and not the last one),” said Mykola.

Olesia Lantsman

This article was created by Bihus.Info as part of the project “EU Urgent Support for Civil Society” implemented by ISAR Ednannia with the financial support of the European Union. The content of the article is the sole responsibility of Bihus.Info and does not necessarily reflect the position of the European Union.

 

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