The Kherson Urban Territorial Community is located in the territory of the Kherson District in the Kherson Region.
The total surface area of the territory: 452.8 km2
The population of the community is 317,752 residents.
Internally displaced persons: 15,237 (as of 02 February 2023)
The Kherson Urban Community was created in 2020 and unites the administrative centre itself – the city of Kherson and 15 settlements: 4 urban-type settlements, 3 villages and 8 settlements.
The city of Kherson was founded on 18 June 1778. An admiralty, a fortress, a city and a trading port were established in Kherson.
The first ship built in Kherson was launched in 1783; a railway was laid and a new shipping channel to the Black Sea was built in the early 20th century.
During the soviet times, the city gradually turned into a national industrial and transport hub.
In 1803, Kherson became the centre of the province, which covered almost the entire south of the then Ukraine. The city was built by European aristocrats who were in exile from their countries, and this greatly influenced the architecture of the city in the historical part.
The fragments of the Kherson fortress, an 18th century landmark, and many buildings of the 19th century have survived in Kherson to this day.
There is a large 11-meter sundial in the city. At the same time, it is a monument to John Howard. According to his will, his descendants erected this memorial stele. Interesting fact: this monument is one of the five most unique clocks in Ukraine.
The Roman Catholic Church of the Sacred Heart was built in 1787. Initially, the building was wooden, and in 1820 it was rebuilt into a stone church. A tower was added to it 20 years later and in 1849 it was consecrated as a cathedral. In 1931, the soviet authorities closed the cathedral, and later a workshop and a cinema were opened in it. In 1994, the church was returned to the Catholic community. After the reconstruction, a bell and a cross were installed on the tower.
The Kherson Local History Museum was founded in 1890 based on the collection of ancient historical and cultural artefacts of archaeologist Viktor Hoshkevych. The museum housed about 145,000 exhibits: a collection of ancient coins from the cities located in the Northern Black Sea region, Scythian gold jewellery, weapons of the 15th – 20th centuries AD.
The Shovkunenko Art Museum is one of the most beautiful buildings with a magnificent facade built in 1906 and originally belonging to the City Duma. The collection of works of art was formed from the late 19th century and was replenished with archaeological and numismatic finds, ancient icons and paintings.
Before retreating from the city, the russian troops took the exhibits of the two main city museums to Crimea.
Economy and Wellbeing
The community is almost entirely located on the plain, in the most ecologically clean region of Ukraine with 275 sunny days per year, on the right bank of the Dnipro, where numerous recreation centres are located, which were almost all destroyed by the invaders in 2022.
The city had an international airport, which was destroyed as well during the full-scale invasion.
The Kherson Sea Trade Port and the Kherson River Port are located on the Dnipro River, which were also significantly damaged during the artillery shelling of the city by the invaders.
The total surface area of the community’s land is 45,276.9 hectares, and the structure of the community’s agricultural production is dominated by crop production – 94.5%.
About 50% of all watermelons in Ukraine are grown in the territory of the Kherson Region.
Kherson’s climate and soil make watermelons special. From the Kherson Region, watermelons were taken for sale to almost all the cities and towns of Ukraine. What is more, even watermelons grown in other regions of Ukraine were often claimed by sellers to be from Kherson because it became a symbol of taste and quality.
It is because of such dishonest marketing practices that Kherson watermelon producers decided to register the Kherson watermelon as a geographical indication. That is, the watermelon was supposed to become not only a symbol, but also an official brand; however, all these efforts were hindered by the war.
But the year before last, Kherson watermelons were even marked with special QR codes so that buyers could distinguish them and buy exactly Kherson watermelon.
In the territory of the Kherson community, drinking groundwater from the Kherson field is extracted for the water supply of the city of Kherson.
Before the occupation, 4,107 small and medium-sized businesses operated in the Kherson community. In 2021, 2,799 newly created business entities – legal entities and individuals – were registered.
The largest city-forming enterprises generating revenues to the national and local budgets ensure the community development and employ its residents: Danone, a French company producing dairy products, a ship repair plant, the Kherson Sea Trade Port, a plant producing dry building mixes, a greenhouse plant, a piggery and a number of agricultural enterprises.
Since the first day of the war, despite all the challenges and threats, Danone continues to operate producing its products. In addition, it does not stop supporting the compatriots and providing humanitarian aid to the residents. More than 1,000 tons of dairy products and more than 4 tons of clinical nutrition products were donated to charity.
Community and War
Fighting in the area of the city began on the first days of the war. On March 01, Kherson was occupied by russian troops.
In the city, the Internet disappeared, shops and pharmacies did not work, but groups of people with Ukrainian flags gathered in the city centre. This once again emphasized the national liberation nature of the russian-Ukrainian war from the side of Ukraine.
However, as early as on March 08, the invaders began to seize men and send them to the detention centre, which was specially freed from local criminals.
On the third week of the occupation, the invaders began to disperse peaceful rallies of Kherson residents. Tear gas grenades were thrown, shots were fired, several people were injured, some were arrested. However, people retreated to a nearby street and continued to rally. The Russian military unsuccessfully tried to disperse the protesters. Similar rallies were held in other towns and settlements of the community.
Some people lost their hope for the quick liberation of Kherson and decided to leave the city. Officially, there was no green corridor between Kherson and unoccupied Ukraine, the railway stopped working on the first days of the occupation, and there were numerous russian roadblocks around the city on all the highways. Despite the great risk, many people from Kherson, mostly in their own cars, drove to Mykolaiv and further to the west of Ukraine and Europe.
Russia tried to organize an occupation administration from among local traitors, but it failed the first time. Collaborators turned out to be much fewer than the russians had hoped.
On March 28, we heard the news about Putin’s demands to create the Kherson People’s Republic. The invaders found those who were ready to take part in the implementation of this idea – seven people from all over Kherson.
For quite a long time, Kherson lived as if in a parallel reality – there were russian soldiers in the city, but a blue and yellow flag flew over the city council building. Mayor Ihor Kolykhaev was active in the media, reported on the work of the municipal services, and information important for survival was distributed on his pages in the social media.
The municipal services worked more or less properly: streets were cleaned up, garbage was regularly taken out, water, gas, electricity was supplied – everything worked.
The invaders seized the TV tower on March 05 and, after blocking the Ukrainian channels, planned to impose on the residents of Kherson a propaganda opinion about the “alleged liberation and rescue mission of the russian military.”
Until late April, the Ukrainian flag flew over the city council building. In the evening of April 25, it became known that the invaders removed it, took the keys from the guards, and expelled the staff from the premises.
During the occupation, russian troops threatened children who refused to go to school and learn according to the russian curriculum.
On the outskirts of Kherson, in Chornobaivka, the largest poultry farm in Ukraine stopped due to a lack of feed. Part of the chickens and eggs from the incubator were destroyed due to the threat of an ecological disaster. The rest of the chickens were to be slaughtered and delivered to Kherson residents. But the invaders blockaded the Kherson Region and did not let trucks from other regions in. People were not allowed to go to the village for food. Those who tried were shot at or their fuel was taken away.
In September 2022, russia announced the annexation of the region along with three others, which was widely condemned.
And on November 09, the russian general announced the withdrawal of troops from Kherson and the northern bank of the Dnipro. Then the invaders blew up the power line and distribution network of the region, leaving the community without electricity, water supply, heating and communication.
The Armed Forces of Ukraine entered the city on November 11. On the same day, the Ukrainian troops liberated Kherson and the rest of the right bank of the Kherson Region, which had been under occupation for 256 days.
When the Ukrainian troops arrived, crowds of civilians gathered to meet them and celebrate the liberation. On Freedom Square, civilians chanted “Glory to the Armed Forces of Ukraine”, hugged soldiers, sang songs and waved Ukrainian flags.
Similarly, in Bilozerka, a town on the western outskirts of Kherson, residents tore down propaganda billboards with the flag of the russian federation, on which it was written: “Russia is here forever.”
The people of Kherson danced in the dark around a bonfire to “Red Viburnum” – a Ukrainian patriotic song banned by the russian occupation authorities for nine months.
People of the Community
The community is headed by Ihor Kolykhaev.
During his tenure as mayor, Ihor Kolykhaev has been promoting family values and caring for our native land.
He actively organized the mechanical cleaning of the city, overhauled 30,000 square meters of roads, ordered repairs and pothole repairs of about 70,000 square meters; during his tenure, overhauls of parks and squares, reconstruction of building facades in the historical part of the city, construction of schools and kindergartens began.
He developed project documentation for the reconstruction of the Swan Lake bowl, overhauled water supply networks, purchased 30 new buses, extended the schedule of municipal trolleybuses, focused on the sports life of the community residents by building football pitches and volleyball and basketball courts.
On 06 March 2022, Ihor Kolykhaev was awarded the Order “For Courage” of the III degree for his significant personal contribution to the protection of state sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, courage and selfless actions during the organization of the defence of settlements from the russian invaders.
On the morning of 28 June 2022, according to the adviser of the mayor of Kherson, Halyna Liashevska, Mr. Kolykhaev was kidnapped by the russian invaders. His further fate is still unknown.
By order of the President of Ukraine in September 2022, council secretary Halyna Luhova was appointed the head of the Kherson City Military Administration of the Kherson District of the Kherson Region, which after the de-occupation of the city actively worked to resolve the municipal issues: the creation of Invincibility Centres, the restoration of electricity networks, damaged water and gas pipelines, preparation for the heating season, humanitarian and security issues, the organization of medical aid and evacuation of the population, as well as the elimination of the consequences of daily shelling by the occupying forces. She holds regular meetings with the residents of the community. She deals with demining of communication networks important for the infrastructure of the city and the administrative buildings.
In 2021, to support the competitive economy of the community, increase the comfort of life of its residents and create conditions for a high quality of life, the Program of Economic and Social Development of the Kherson Urban Territorial Community for 2022 was developed.
The goals of the Program were planned to be achieved through the implementation of a number of investment projects, the implementation of works at infrastructure development facilities and community landscaping, but due to the full-scale invasion, the implementation of all the projects will not be completed before the end of the war.
After the liberation of the Kherson community, which continues to be under heavy enemy fire on a daily basis, the issues of restoration of damaged and reconstruction of facilities destroyed by the war, as well as modernization of existing ones, become particularly vital. Therefore, plans for the post-war reconstruction of the community are already being elaborated, investors are being engaged and memoranda are being signed.
The following should be highlighted among the priority recovery/reconstruction plans.
Construction of an educational complex
It is planned to build an educational complex for obtaining a full secondary education in the territory of two schools, which are located on the bordering land plots with a total surface area of 14,750 square meters. Before the full-scale invasion, only 50% of school areas were used in the educational process due to the dilapidated state of the buildings. The educational institution suffered from artillery shelling – its main walls, windows, doors and roof were damaged.
The future complex will consist of educational buildings, two sports halls, premises for children’s personality development, a football pitch, basketball and sports grounds with appropriate equipment, a running stadium and a swimming pool. Considering the abundance of sunny days in the region (more than 270 days a year), it will be advisable to install alternative sources of power and heating.
The new institution is designed for 1,300 students (this is the number of students in schools as of 24 February 2022).
Restoration of the municipal passenger transport in the community
Before the full-scale invasion, forty trolleybuses on weekdays and thirty at weekends operated in the city.
During the artillery shelling of the community, three trolleybuses were destroyed and sixteen were damaged.
In order to ensure the primary city routes, the community needs to purchase ten modern energy-efficient electric vehicles, which will ensure timely transportation of passengers along convenient routes.
During the temporary occupation of the city, the occupation authorities stole and took away thirty-eight new municipal passenger buses belonging to the municipal company.
Restoration of the operational capacity of the municipal enterprise “City Road Administration”
This is the only enterprise in the community maintaining the street-road network of drainage facilities, cleaning and restoring the city’s streets. At present, the enterprise is also engaged in the cleaning of the territory of the community.
All new motor vehicles and computer equipment were stolen and taken away from the enterprise by the occupation authorities. Currently, the facilities are using equipment from the 1980s, which cannot cope with the growing volume of daily work.
In order to clean the road surface and treat it with an anti-icing mixture (today, almost all work is performed manually), the enterprise’s equipment needs to be renewed as soon as possible.
It urgently needs twenty special vehicles and ten office equipment items.
Restoration of the enterprise’s equipment and vehicles is necessary for safe traffic on the community’s roads.
Kherson special general education school
The school is located in a building built in 1822.
Before the full-scale invasion, the school was attended by 102 children with special needs from across the community.
The school building was significantly damaged as a result of artillery shelling of the city and needs to be overhauled; but the current situation already requires us to employ a different approach to creating a comfortable environment for children with special needs. The institution does not meet all modern requirements. Due to a lack of space, there is no sports ground; a place for leisure and outdoor rest; auxiliary premises for correctional classes; cloakrooms for children in wheelchairs; a bedroom for junior school students.
Municipal enterprise “Production Management of the Water Supply and Sewerage System of the City of Kherson”
The enterprise provides water supply and drainage services to more than 300,000 residents of the Kherson community.
During the temporary occupation of the city, the occupying authorities stole and took away: 22 modern special vehicles, mechanisms, tools and equipment for repairing networks and 263 units of office equipment. As a result of shelling, the following was damaged:
- 15 special equipment vehicles. Estimated cost of restoration – UAH 107 million.
- Upper Antoniv water intake (provides 200,000 community residents with water). Estimated cost of restoration – UAH 96 million.
- Komyshany water intake (provides 7,000 community residents with water). Estimated cost of restoration – UAH 33 million.
- Pressure collector – the main sewage pumping station of the city. Estimated cost of restoration works – UAH 283 million.
- The main equipment of the city sewage treatment plants. Estimated cost of works – UAH 904 million.
- Overhead cable line. Estimated cost of restoration – UAH 6 million.
- Cable line. Estimated cost of restoration works – UAH 10 million.
- Drinking water laboratory. Laboratory equipment was destroyed. Estimated cost of restoration – UAH 45 million.
- Administrative building. Estimated cost of restoration – UAH 12 million.
Due to heavy shelling of the community, water supply and drainage systems are damaged every day. In order to eliminate the consequences of shelling, the mobility and efficiency of water company specialists are especially needed, but the remaining transport and mechanisms do not ensure the proper operation of the networks.
Creation of administrative services centres. Before the beginning of the russian military aggression, administrative services were provided only in Kherson, so the residents of the other territories (15 settlements) had to come to the city. The centre provided more than 200 services.
The new project is aimed at creating modern Service Centres – the only place where one can receive the services determined by the laws in comfortable conditions.
In the process of decentralization, capable communities received wider powers, resources and responsibilities. The list of services that can be provided locally is constantly expanding. Residents of communities expect convenient and high-quality administrative services from local authorities. That is why it is important that each community decides as soon as possible how to quickly and affordably provide these services to its residents.
Therefore, the creation of services centres in Starosta-headed districts will enable 38,000 people to receive quality services at their place of residence.
The reconstruction of the oil refinery complex will create new jobs: 6.5 thousand new jobs during the reconstruction of the facility, more than 1 thousand new jobs after the start of the refinery’s operation.
Kherson has an existing personnel potential: would-be specialists will be able to gain the relevant profession and qualification in specialized institutions during the period of the reconstruction of the complex.
As a result of the occupation and hostilities, there are practically no oil refining facilities in Ukraine, and the creation of a modern enterprise in Kherson will significantly impact the energy independence of the state, the price policy of operators, will make it possible to enter international markets and generate foreign currency revenues.
And after the final victory over the enemy and the liberation of all of Ukraine, the Kherson community is awaiting great restoration and reconstruction using global best practices and modern technological solutions.