Panic in Belgorod region as Russia struggles to drive opposition forces out

The Russian border city of Belgorod was rocked by explosions late at night, report the local Telegram channels Belgorod - Lightning, Blatgorod and Pepel. The news outlet Sota posted a selection of photos and videos sent by the residents of the city, showing a column of smoke rising above the city.

"An “arrival” (bomb explosion) in Belgorod in the building of the FSB," writes Sota.

According to Blatgorod, after that, Preobrazhenskaya Street, where the regional department of the FSB is located, was blocked. Half a kilometer away on a next street is the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Belgorod region.

A "counter-terrorist operation" regime was introduced in the Belgorod region yesterday. Residents are not allowed to share any information other than that released by official sources. According to the head of the region, Vyacheslav Gladkov, these measures were taken "in order to ensure the safety of citizens". According to him, " special measures and temporary restrictions have been established" in the region.

"The measures range from random checks of identity documents, to stopping the work or production lines and businesses specializing in producing explosives, radioactive, chemically and biologically hazardous substances," the governor wrote on Telegram.

This morning, Gladkov reported that in the Grayvoron district, the "clearing of the territory" continues by the detachments of the Russian Defense Ministry together with law enforcement agencies.

"I now appeal to the residents of the Grayvoron district, who temporarily left their homes, it is not worth returning yet. We will immediately inform you, including me on my social networks, and the heads of local government bodies will provide the information when it is safe," Gladkov said.

Belgorod residents report that right now the villages of Glotovo and Kozinka in the Grayvoron urban district are being shelled.

Russian opposition leader Alexander Nevzorov published a video showing residents of the Belgorod region trying to break open the door of a bomb shelter.

"Everyone is in high spirits, in excitement and complete panic. No one screams about the greatness of Russia and Putin's genius," Nevzorov said.

In February, the Russian news agency Interfax reported that almost 10 billion rubles ($124,750) were spent in 2022 to build a system of fortifications and bomb shelters in the region.

"At the peak of the work, almost 4,200 construction workers and 680 pieces of equipment were on site," reported the regional Minister of Construction, Oksana Kozlitina.

With the amount of funds spent on building these fortification lines, it remains unclear how Russian opposition forces were able to freely cross the Russian border, and residents of the region have nowhere to hide from shelling.

"Bomb shelters in Belgorod look like they have already been bombed," said Anton Gerashchenko, adviser to the Minister of Internal Affairs of Ukraine.

"The video is especially for Gladkov. Look at what the state the shelter is in. And what do you want us to do about it?!" says an indignant man off-screen.

Yesterday morning, fighters of the Russian Volunteer Corps and the Freedom of Russia Legion entered the territory of the Belgorod region from Ukraine. They said that their goal is to liberate Russia from Putin's regime, which made the country "rotten through and through from corruption, lies, censorship, restrictions on freedoms and repression."

The Ukrainian authorities said Kyiv is not involved in what is happening in Russia.

  War in Ukraine, Belgorod