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Russians fire warning shots at protesters

KYIV (AFP) – Russian troops fired warning shots at peaceful protesters yesterday as thousands demonstrated in the southern city of Kherson, which was seized by the Russian army earlier this month, a local broadcaster reported.

Waving national flags and chanting “Kherson is for Ukraine” and “Glory to Ukraine”, several thousand protesters gathered in a show of defiance on the central Freedom Square, the Suspilne Kherson public broadcaster reported.

Protesters marched down a central boulevard past a line of Russian armoured vehicles marked with the “Z” symbol used by the invaders and manned by troops wielding guns and wearing face coverings, a witness video posted by Suspilne Kherson on Telegram showed.

At one point, troops fired several volleys, which Suspilne Kherson reported were “warning shots”. The video showed protesters shouting “Fascists” and “Go home!” in Russian.

Some wrapped themselves in Ukrainian flags, standing next to tank traps that still littered the square. Yesterday, the city marked 78 years since its liberation from the Nazis.

One protester held a hand-drawn placard saying “Kherson is Ukraine”.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy posted a video of the Kherson protest on Telegram, writing: “I am grateful to each person… who does not surrender. Who protests. Who demonstrates to the occupiers that Ukraine is our land.”

Russian forces seized the port city, which has a population of 290,000 people, on March 3 following a three-day siege. It was the first major city to fall following Moscow’s invasion.

File photo shows people protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Parliament Square, opposite the Houses of Parliament, in London. PHOTO: AP