The city of Kupiansk was under the rule of the Russians for more than half a year. At the beginning of the war, the local authorities surrendered the city to the Russian military without a fight. Only 50 kilometers from the border with the Russian Federation and a large railway hub determined the important role of Kupiansk for the occupiers.

Military equipment was driven through the city to the front line. Internal Russian passports were issued here. Russian textbooks for Ukrainian schoolchildren were unloaded here. It was here that the Russians stole Ukrainian grain and sent it to their home by rail.
During these six months, Kupiansk experienced the whole composition of the occupation: from the distribution of Russian humanitarian aid to the kidnapping and torturing of pro-Ukrainian residents.

Slidstvo.Info and Gwara.Media decided to highlight each stage of the occupation, as other Ukrainian cities occupied by the Russians are currently experiencing the same difficulties.


KupIansk is located 120 kilometers from the regional center called Kharkiv, which has been a subject to devastating shelling and bombing since the beginning of Russian aggression. More than 25,000 people live in the city through which the Russian gas pipeline runs.

In the first days of the full-scale invasion, the Mayor of Kupiansk, Hennadii Matsehora, negotiated with the Russian troops and let them into the city without any resistance. According to him, the commander of the Russian battalion approached him and gave him an ultimatum – either surrender the city or it will be taken by storm.


👉 The mayor of Kupyansk welcomes the Russian military in the city. Photo: Instagram

We have discussed the actions of the military, whose aim was to enter the city, ensure the order and calm the residents. And they convinced me that this would not affect the life of the city in any way: schools, kindergartens, hospitals, grocery stores, transportation. They said there would be order in the city,

🧔‍♂️Matsehora Hennadii, the Mayor


However, from the very first days, life in the occupied city was significantly different from the one promised by the Russians.

The military was stationed in Kupiansk, both the city and the suburbs were constantly patrolled by black jeeps with the letter 'Z' on them.

According to local deputy Maslii Mykola, it was the mayor who provided the Russian military with everything they needed. He gave them the utility companies’ buildings and the heating networks. Occupiers used these facilities for their needs. Military equipment constantly drove through the city - the Russian army turned Kupiansk into a corridor to the front line in Kharkiv oblast, where the fierce battles were fought.

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👉 Video of Russian military equipment in Kupyansk. Video: Instagram


In addition to the fact that the military patrolled the city, post offices and banks stopped working. It became impossible to get anything from outside the city. Some stores still had food left. Pharmacies were open, but there were almost no medicines.


Kupiansk-made meat and sausages were expensive, but more or less affordable. Everything brought from other cities was much more expensive. A bottle of Coca-Cola cost 90 or 120 hryvnias,

👩says Yana, a local resident.

This situation persisted in the city for quite a long time, until the goods were replaced by the Russian ones.


Meanwhile, looting flourished in the city - even grain wagons were robbed. 🌾

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👉 Marauders steal grain from wagons. Video: Instagram

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Residents of Kupiansk organized self-defense groups that patrolled the streets.

Due to the lack of food and medicines, people collected the needed things on their own and shared with their neighbors. When there was a need for things for newborns in March, the people of Kupiansk brought clothes, diapers, hygiene products and milk formula to the local maternity hospital.

Many abandoned apartments, many elderly people, everyone is afraid of looting - that someone will break into the apartments.

👩 Nataliia, a local resident, claims
We already have a lot of sick people, children in basements, in general the situation is very bad. There are few people in the city who support the occupiers, the majority of the population stands for the Ukrainian flag over our city.

🧔‍♂️ Gennadiy Matsegora, Mayor of Kupiansk


On March 1, when the armed Russian soldiers were already walking the streets of Kupiansk, people went to a rally. The action was initiated by a local politician and activist, Maslii Mykola, who openly criticized the authorities for surrending the city to the Russians.

👉 Mykola Masliy's video message at the beginning of the war. Video: Mykola Masliya's Facebook

People shouted 📢
'Don't save us!' and held Ukrainian flags in their hands. 🇺🇦 At first, the Russians did not intervene, but suddenly more troops came, and they took up arms.
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👉 Rally in Kupyansk on March 1. Video: Instagram

They started shooting in the air, at people's feet with automatic volleys. People fell on the asphalt, they were afraid. Many people left immediately…. They threw this smoke, gas at my feet... My flag completely melted. Tears were flowing... my airways were damaged. I coughed, and had a sore throat. It was terrible

👩 Liudmyla, the rally participant says
Павло Карнигін Павло Карнигін

When weapons and gas were used, the organizer of the rally Maslii Mykola was called by the Russian military, and than he disappeared. Since then, no one has seen the politician. His wife has not known where her husband is for more than 6 months - there is no contact with him.

Use of tear gas during the rally. Video: Instagram play

👉 Use of tear gas during the rally. Video: Instagram


In March, Russia started delivering humanitarian aid to Kupiansk. The occupiers artificially created the food shortage, and then began 'rescuing' the locals with their own products. People lined up in long queues for rations. However, not everyone had enough food, some returned home with nothing.

👉 Distribution of Russian humanitarian aid

Only those who love freebies, lined up for the Russian humanitarian aid. They don't care whose hands they take it from.

👩 Nadia, a local resident says


The occupiers turned off Ukrainian television and caused communication interruptions. At the beginning of April, telephone communication in Kupiansk completely disappeared, and it became almost impossible to receive information from the occupied city.

The Russians set up roadblocks at all the exits from the city. Locals told 'Slidstvo.Info' that since May it has become almost impossible to leave Kupiansk, especially impossible to relocate to the territory controlled by the Ukrainian authorities.

Russian APCs patrol the city.

Screenshot: Instagram

👉 Screenshot: Instagram

Screenshot: Instagram

👉 Screenshot: Instagram


Those who disagree with the policies of the occupation government are brought to the local police station, where they are interrogated, sometimes with the use of electric current. If a person does not pass the interrogation and arouses Russian suspicions, he or she is taken to newly established prisons and torture chambers in various districts of the city.

According to data collected by 'Slidstvo.Info', there were at least four such torture chambers in Kupiansk: on the territory of the sugar factory, in the heating network building, in the basement of the water supply company and in the police station.

Map of Russian torture chambers in Kupyansk

👉 Map of Russian torture chambers in Kupyansk


The Russians came to Dmytro, who openly expressed his pro-Ukrainian position. Together with an acquaintance, he was captured and taken to the basement of the heating network, where the headquarters of the occupiers was located. There they were forced to kneel 'for safety purposes,' It lasted for four hours.


Then, everything is like in a movie: a chair, a lamp lights the face, they put a machine gun to the head, click the shutter, hit the legs and arms, the body. They scare you. Then a 'good' officer comes in and starts talking to you. He says, 'You should understand, we know everything about you, about your family. The city is surrounded, you have nowhere to go. We have come forever, so let's cooperate... They asked who Stepan Bandera was, when he was born, who he is for us, what 'Maidan' is, etc. I answered in different ways, sometimes with humor. When we got out, we realized that we had to run. If we cooperate with them, we will become traitors. And it will result in the fact that in the end they will give a gun and tell you to kill someone.

Dmytro and his friend miraculously managed to escape from the city. Although, according to the man, he was chased by the occupiers on his way.


A few months before the war, a local resident Nadia resigned from the Armed Forces of Ukraine and returned home to the suburbs of Kupiansk. At the end of March, according to her, the Russians kidnapped her neighbor, a soldier of the 'Aidar' battalion. Soon the woman found out that collaborators had prepared a dossier on her, and they began to search for her.

Nadia decided to leave the city. One of the few options to get out of Kupiansk was through Russia. Nadia decided to take such a risk, but during the filtering, she was detained by the Russian military. They interrogated the woman for 9 hours.


I was recently interrogated by the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation officer. He wanted to know my position in the Armed Forces. It was clear that they saw that I was serving in some base. However, they did not know my position. That is, I was both a cook and a senior gunner, but I said that I was only a cook. They started asking about the brigade in which I served, but I said that I didn't know anything. That I am a cook and my business is pans.

👩 Nadia


On May 9, the occupiers organized a celebration in Kupiansk. It took place in the best Russian traditions.

Four months after the occupation, Kupiansk was repainted in Russian colors: bridges, local administration and city streets were 'decorated' with tricolors. The poster 'We are one nation with Russia' and the flag of 'Kharkiv oblast as part of the Russian Federation' were hung above the city hall.

👉 Use of tear gas during the rally. Video: Instagram

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A branch of a Russian bank (South Ossetia's International Settlement Bank) was opened in the city. The presidential party of United Russia installed telemedical equipment, psychologists started talking to people, performed diagnostic examinations, and identified health problems. In the worst cases, they were taken to the Russian Federation for treatment.

In July, a center for receiving documents for Russian citizenship was opened in Kupiansk. 🏢


At the end of the academic year, graduates of Kupiansk schools received Russian documents on education. Representatives of United Russia conducted classes with children of preschool age.

👉 Graduates of the Kupyan school are given Russian diplomas. Video: Instagram

Before September 1, Russian textbooks for schoolchildren were brought in trucks with the inscription 'Ministry of Emergency Situations of Russia' - among them, in particular, 'History of Russia'.

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But studying according to Russian textbooks in schools did not last long because, on September 9, the Ukrainian military liberated Kupiansk from the Russian occupiers, along with other cities and villages of Kharkiv oblast.

People stood in line for the humanitarian aid, and they (Russians - Ed.) said, 'We are all going home. Evacuation'. What kind of evacuation, no one knew anything. And so they evacuated themselves. Now, they are shooting, banging. It's quiet, then it's loud. We saw that they were shooting in the fields. These last days were probably the most terrible. Because you can somehow live without light and water, but it’s harder when you are constantly shot...

👩 Local resident Yana says

My father gave me a T-shirt with the Coat of Arms of Ukraine on it. I took care of it, even hid it. I thought that they would come, find it, and that's it. There (in occupied Kupiansk — Ed.) they ordered to erase, remove, paint over everything Ukrainian... God forbid something happens. When the Ukrainian military arrived, we immediately started breathing. Yes, we hear shootings now, but it is ours who are shooting, and that is good. Beat them!

👩 Svitlana, a resident of Kupiansk, who survived the occupation, says

For several weeks, Kupiansk has been under the control of Ukraine, but the shelling here does not stop, because the Russian border is only 50 kilometers away. Ukrainian authorities are returning to the city, law enforcement officers are documenting the crimes of the Russians and arresting collaborators.