December 7, 2022

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American hides from Russians for eight months in Kherson – 11/18/2022 – World

He did not leave his house to avoid being noticed by Russian patrols; I was watching a movie on my laptop. On sunny days, he walked in a small fenced yard. Afraid of being seen, he peered carefully from behind the curtain and saw the Russians settling down the street.

He is English teacher Timothy Morales, an American who has spent everything Eight months of Russian occupation of the city Gerson, in southern Ukraine, hiding from the Russian military and secret police, fearing his nationality would make him a target. Morales only emerged publicly last week when the Ukrainian army liberated the city.

“I went through moments of despair,” Morales says in Kherson’s central square, where he now has blue and yellow ribbons — Ukraine’s national colors — tied to his woolen coat. “But I know this day will come at some point.”

The rumble of artillery fired at the city from Russian positions across the Dnieper still rattled the windows, and Kherson was a dark, gloomy town without electricity, water, or heat. Most of its inhabitants fled months ago, when the Russians retreated took Everything of value they could find.

Every day at dawnMany civilians remain They stand in long queues to get bread or fill plastic jugs with water. It was only on Tuesday (15) that the first convoys loaded with humanitarian aid arrived. Trucks are parked in the square to deliver treat packets like flour, soap, wet wipes and powdered instant milkshakes.

But for Morales, a 56-year-old former university professor, the worst was behind him — he no longer needed to play cat-and-mouse with the Russians. Raised in Banbury, England, Morales taught English literature for many years in Oklahoma City. Before the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February, he opened an English school in Kherson.

During the chaotic early days of the war, Moscow tanks battled some Ukrainian troops In the region, Morales was trapped behind Russian borders.

He once tried to flee north along a highway, but turned back when he saw tanks ahead. He was able to send his 10-year-old daughter to safety, traveling with his ex-wife, but he could not leave. “I don’t want to risk leaving with my passport.”

Morales did nothing illegal under the laws of any country. But the Kremlin characterized the United States and its allies. Armed Ukrainian troops, as the real enemy in battle, is due to them in reverse at the front. Morales feared that Russian troops would arrest him because he was an American.

He became a survivor and eyewitness to the Russian invasion, brutal occupation and failed Russian attempt to annex parts of Ukraine and eliminate any resistance.

The Russians invaded Kherson in early March, and after soldiers patrolled the city’s streets, agents of the Federal Security Service (FSB, in Russian), the KGB’s main successor agency, searched for pro-Ukrainian members. Guerrilla movement

Morales’ life is limited to two apartments -his and his ex-wife’s-, except for the patio, a pleasant place with cherry and walnut trees that is hard to see. For two months, he says, he dared not go farther than the yard.

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Relatives of his Ukrainian ex-wife would bring him food, and sometimes he would shop at a grocery store, where he would meet the clerk – a young man. Positions Pro-Ukrainian🇧🇷 Shopping outings were an exception in her normally closed life.

There was a moment when he narrowly escaped from a tight spot. In September, he went into the yard and saw Russian soldiers pointing guns through the wire mesh of a gate. He ran back into the house and locked the door. After some time, a military party came in search. The neighbor shouted from the other side of the door that he had no choice but to open the door. Morales opened it and found himself face to face with an FSB agent.

He speaks Russian, but not well enough to master Ukrainian. He told the agent that he was Irish, that his name was Timothy Joseph, that he had taught himself English, and that he had lost his passport. The secret police went there. A neighbor, an elderly woman, told the police that there was no reason to be suspicious and helped him with the scam.

“It changed my perspective,” he says. “Before I was cautious. Then I became paranoid.” He says the interrogation was his worst time and he thinks he got away with it because the agents were “not the smartest in the world.”

From his hiding place, he returned to teaching English online, using his neighbors’ internet connection to communicate with students in other parts of the country and abroad. “It kept me sane,” she says, even though she couldn’t get paid for the classes.

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Morales was worried when he saw a Russian, perhaps A Civil Administrator of Occupying GovernmentTaking his family to live in an apartment abandoned by Ukrainians in a building down the street increases his risk of discovery.

But as time went on, he noticed something that was obvious to other residents as well: it The Russian army was crumbling🇧🇷 Discipline slipped, soldiers looked very ragged, and they were more commonly seen driving stolen local cars than military vehicles. “As time went on they became more sloppy and messy.”

During the last month of the Russian occupation, Morales noticed that soldiers who had stolen expensive cars such as BMWs or Mercedes were smuggling these vehicles out of Kherson. Disappearance gave hope.

In the week before the release, there was a power outage, and Morales was unable to access the news. On Friday he saw a car driving down the street with a Ukrainian flag. “I know the Russians are gone.”

He participated in the celebration in the city’s central square. Greetings players who have entered Gerson, in jeeps and pickup trucks, without encountering resistance. But as happy as he is that the city is free, he now intends to leave. “I need to stay away from what happened here.”