Expert: Kherson may soon be scene of major Russian propaganda offensive

Andrei Hvostov
Andrei Hvostov Source: ERR

The southern Ukrainian city of Kherson has a historical connection with Estonia, in addition to being the scene of the latest exhumation of a favorite of Catherine the Great, journalist and Russia expert Andrei Hvostov says.

Russian forces again launched missile strikes against Ukraine on Monday, targeting strategic objects. At the same time, focus is on the Kherson Oblast and the city itself, which Ukrainian forces are preparing to take back despite the encroaching autumnal conditions and Russian defenders. The occupiers have also removed a number of monuments in the city and even the human remains of a noted historical figure linked to the city, ETV news show "Valisilm" reported Monday.

The head of Ukraine's military intelligence says it will take about a month to retake Kherson from Russian forces, with progress made one step at a time.

Ukrainian soldier at the Kherson front Vadim said: "There has been constant firing every day, morning, noon and night. Artillery, and also cluster bombs, have been used, even though the latter are prohibited. They are firing on us every day."

Russia is also bringing more reinforcements to Kherson and has been evacuating local residents from the city, on the basis of a "vacation", the show reported.

One Russian officer reportedly said that part of his troops' tasks is to ensure the safety of civilians going to resort towns on the Russian Federation's Black Sea coast or elsewhere.

Nonetheless, Russian forces have removed the remains of the famous Prince Grigory Potemkin (1739-1791), who is the founder of Kherson city and the Novorossiya region, though is perhaps most well-known internationally for bequeathing the term "Potemkin village" - a sort of model village with wild west-style false facades which Potemkin presented to Catherine when visiting the area, in order to convey a better impression of reality than was actually the case for most people – a tactic also used on gullible western visitors to the Soviet Union, such as George Bernard Shaw, and by the present day Russian Federation also, for instance during the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2014, the year the Russian Federation began its invasion of Ukraine.

The city's construction was part of the "Greek project" drawn up by Empress Catherine and Potemkin, named after the ancient Greek-speaking colony of Chersonesus, in nearby Crimea. 

Journalist and Russia expert Andrei Hvostov told "Välisilm" that: "It has been an unfortunate tale about Potemkin, a real pity - and it's not the first time he's been yanked out of his grave. The first time it happened was already at the end of the 18th century, when Paul I ascended the throne (reigned 1796-801), who went down in history as a ruler the passionate hater of his mother, Catherine II, ie. Catherine the Great. During Paul's time, poor Potemkin's remains were simply ejected from St. Catherine's Cathedral; legend has it that his remains were even thrown into a moat somewhere, then during the reign of Alexander I (reigned 1801–1825), they were reinterred."

He said: "The city of Kherson was built up by a person connected to the history of Estonia, whose name was Ivan Gannibal (1735-1801). He was born near Keila (just outside Tallinn – ed.), the son of the same Abram Petrovich Gannibal (1696-1781) who was known in the court of Peter I as Arab Petra Pervovo and was one of Alexander Pushkin's grandfathers (great grandfathers - ed.). The same Ivan Gannibal, as a high-ranking military officer of engineers was the person who built the city of Kherson."

Hvostov added that Kherson has in its history constituted a major Black Sea port, a key location militarily and a very significant city in Russia's imperial history.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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