ERR in Ukraine: Odesa beaches reopened for public use

A beach in Odesa.
A beach in Odesa. Source: ERR

Throughout Ukraine, even far away from the front line, there is a constant sense of danger. Nevertheless, for ordinary Ukrainians, life goes on. In Odesa, for example, the city government has opened the beaches for public use.

At first glance, Odesa may seem like a peaceful city. However, not only has Russia bombed Odesa's port area, but it has also targeted civilian objects throughout the city. In one Russian attack, the Transfiguration Cathedral in the center of the city was damaged, for instance. However, people in Odesa have no plans to flee their home city.

"It's up to everyone to decide for themselves, but we have no intention of leaving. This is our home. I understand the people who left. Everyone has the right to survive," Irina, a local, told ERR.

Despite the war, for Ukrainians, Odesa continues to be seen as a desirable resort town and it is still calmer than many other places in the country.

"Despite the war, life still goes on. There has to be some variety in life, though these are difficult times. In Zaporizhzhia, and there are constant air strikes said Olga from Zaporizhzhia.

Last year, fearing however Russian troops would attempt a beach landing, the Ukrainians mined the entire coastline. This year, the Odesa municipality has opened those same city beaches for public use. Special nets have been placed in the sea to prevent mines from reaching the shore.

"Installing netting on the beaches is in fact something of an experimental practice. This has not been tried out anywhere else in the world, because nowhere else is there such an overwhelming desire for people to go swimming in a mined sea. That's why we stand by our position on this. We warn people that it is dangerous and not worth risking their lives for," said Natalia Humeniuk of the Ukrainian Armed Forces' southern command center.

Nevertheless, there are plenty of people, who do not appear to be paying much attention to the military's advice and are still heading to Odesa's beaches to enjoy the sand and sea.

"You can still go once a year, there has to be some variety. Not just swimming in a pond or a pool, but in the salty sea water. It's nice," said Nikita.

Elsewhere in Odesa, the eternal fire for the unknown sailors still burns in Shevchenko Park. Meanwhile, last December, the monument to Russian Empress Catherine II, which formerly stood in the city center, was taken down, due to being a symbol of Russian imperialism.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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