Only days after being retaken by Ukrainian forces, hundreds of inhabitants of the recently liberated city of Kherson lined up in the rain on Thursday to replace the Russian SIM cards in their mobile phones with local ones.
Svitlana Kostikova, a 54-year-old local resident and seamstress, who said she had had no option but to use a Russian SIM card told, “We finally have our victory, we’ve been liberated. Glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes.”
“I deleted all of my apps, and then was forced by circumstances to use it, to have a connection,” she added.
The Kyiv government has installed relay stations throughout the city because it claims that Russian troops destroyed the Kherson communications network before departing.
Local telecom companies, notably Kyivstar and Vodafone, set up booths around the city’s main square where people could either get a free SIM card or pay to avoid the line.
“My SIM card burned when my apartment was hit by a rocket. The whole building burned down, a four-storey building, 65 apartments,” said Semyanova Liudmyla, 67, after picking up her free card.
Russian SIM cards were displayed by a local Kyivstar employee, who said that they had either been given away for free or sold by the Russian government during the occupation.
(with inputs from agencies)