Slovyansk strug­gles back af­ter rebels are routed

The Covington News - - WORLD -

SLOVYANSK, Ukraine (AP) — For the first time in three months, Alla Grebenkova says she can go out on the streets of this city in east­ern Ukraine with­out fear of be­ing rec­og­nized as Ukrainian.

“I lived in hell. It was com­plete chaos and law­less­ness,” the 68-year-old teacher said of life in Slovyansk af­ter it came un­der the con­trol of pro-Rus­sia sep­a­ratists in April. “I was afraid to ad­mit that I am Ukrainian. Fi­nally, this ab­sur­dity has ended.”

The rebels fled Slovyansk, a city of 100,000 that had been their strong­hold, over the weekend as Ukrainian troops mounted an of­fen­sive. They left be­hind a city heav­ily dam­aged by fight­ing and riven by ve­he­mently dif­fer­ing views.

Pres­i­dent Petro Poroshenko made a sur­prise visit to Slovyansk on Tues­day and an­nounced that elec­tric­ity was be­ing re­stored af­ter the city went weeks with­out power, wa­ter or gas. Its hospi­tal was op­er­at­ing on elec­tric­ity sup­plied by por­ta­ble gen­er­a­tors, and chief sur­geon Arkady Glushchenko said Mon­day that gaso­line for those crit­i­cal ma­chines was in dan­ger of run­ning out soon.

Poroshenko also promised that all schools would be re­paired by the first day of classes on Sept. 1, say­ing chil­dren go­ing to school would be “a sym­bol of peace.”

The govern­ment soldiers may have won the bat­tle for the phys­i­cal city but not yet for its people’s hearts and minds.

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