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I'm a bit at loss of how this happened:

Around 2,000 people came onto the streets to protest this morning. They marched through the city centre, waving flags and singing the Ukrainian national anthem as they shouted "Russians go home" and "Kherson is Ukraine".

News yesterday was that the city was swarming with Russian troops and that the locals were not allowed to travel groups larger than two.

The Russian military said it had control of Kherson, and local Ukrainian officials confirmed that forces have taken over local government headquarters in the Black Sea port of 280,000, making it the first major city to fall since the invasion began a week ago. [...]

The mayor said the city would maintain a strict curfew and require pedestrians to walk in groups no larger than two, obey commands to stop and not to “provoke the [Russian] troops.”

So how did 2,000 people managed to assemble without being dispersed by Russian troops?

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    As I understand it, they were dispersed by Russian troops firing over their heads. But Russia seems to have about 500 troops per 100,000 Ukrainians, and that is counting cooks and truck drivers. So they are well below the numbers which are commonly held necessary for policing in a counterinsurgency situation.
    – o.m.
    Mar 5, 2022 at 15:52
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    “So how did 2,000 people managed to assemble without being dispersed by Russian troops?” They were indeed dispersed. Perhaps your question is why they were allowed to assemble to begin with? The way I see it — and as explained by @o.m. — Kherson is occupied in the sense the Russians have enough troops and hardware to control the city itself: Roads and key infrastructure. About 2,000-ish people in the street shouting eventually go away. While there are definitely Ukrainian resisters all over Ukraine right now, there simply don’t seem to be enough to liberate each city 100% from Russian control. Mar 5, 2022 at 15:57
  • It's interesting to note that, as much as Russian troops are doing their best to screw up their invasion at the moment, the USA's initial invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq were very low key affairs, militarily. The real pain of the occupation, and the numerous US combat deaths, came after the initial combat was over. Mar 5, 2022 at 19:30
  • @o.m.: where did you read that? The BBC only reported the Russians fired in the air (to keep the crowd at bay) but themselves withdrew. bbc.com/news/world-europe-60632587 There's some video too of protesters jumping on Russian APCs as these pull away. metro.co.uk/video/… The Russian soldiers in the square were clearly outnumbered at that point. The question is how did it get to that point. Mar 5, 2022 at 19:44
  • @Fizz, the Evening Standard wrote that Russians were arresting protesters. I had interpreted that as the protests being dispersed, but I might be interpeting too much into a few words ...
    – o.m.
    Mar 5, 2022 at 20:13

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What do you expect Russians to do with these demonstrants, fire at them as in Tiananmen Square? This would not help with the world image more as just leaving them alone. There are correspondents lurking around.

With ordinary soldiers equipped with riffles probably you can only do that much. Crowd control without killing too much is complex and requires trained police, special equipment and the like.

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  • It was very informative of you to mention the reason they didn't fire at civilians - "There are correspondents lurking around.". I dunno if it was intentional but you in a very subtle and sarcastic way hinted what can happen to people without correspondents around. :) Jul 19, 2023 at 17:50
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The Russians had apparently not yet cut mobile Internet access in Kherson, at that point (March 4-5). Otherwise far fewer would have probably managed to simultaneously assemble. Public transport had already been stopped, but apparently many people walked to the protests.

The Russians also needed a surprisingly long time (about 10 days) to locate and round up the organizers.

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Once Russia annexed them, the citizens of Kherson became (in theory) Russian citizens on Russian territory; it would seem unsavory, at the very least, for Russia to launch a crackdown more brutal than they would against (say) a protest in Moscow. Moreover, drawing attention to the protests would expose the fact that many residents did not actually support annexation, contrary to the Kremlin's narratives.

So while they absolutely did try to squelch protests, they were limited in their ability to completely crush them.

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