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Russia creates illusion of tourism in occupied Askaniia-Nova reserve by conducting staged tours

Thursday, 27 June 2024, 18:35
Russia creates illusion of tourism in occupied Askaniia-Nova reserve by conducting staged tours
Russia has brought hundreds of "tourists" to the territory of the biosphere reserve. Photo: Ukraine's National Resistance Center on Telegram

The Russians are bringing industrial food workers to the Ukrainian reserve Askaniia-Nova, which is situated in the Russian-occupied part of Kherson Oblast, to create the illusion of tourism in the temporarily occupied territories.

Source: Ukraine's National Resistance Center, a unit of the Special Operations Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, has reported that 160 people have attended the staged tours

Details: Residents of Russia's Rostov Oblast and occupied Ukrainian Crimea are among the visitors to the reserve, where Russia has deployed military assets.


"Therefore, the organisation of tours is a cynical exposure of civilians to danger.

The National Resistance Center urges people not to engage in any of the enemy's initiatives and not to endanger themselves," the statement said.

The Russians regularly post information on Telegram about the inhabitants of the biosphere reserve and its flora and encourage people to visit Askaniia's dendrological and zoological parks, steppe tours, and the recently opened petting zoo.


They note that the reserve is not only a unique centre for the conservation of flora and fauna in the region but also a "popular tourist destination".

Nevertheless, there have been no pictures of crowds of tourists on the Telegram channel over the past month. The only photos of "visitors" are images of the painting contest winners, who received certificates on the reserve's territory, and teenagers who were "enthusiastically" collecting hay for the ungulates.

Volodymyr Saldo, a former Ukrainian lawmaker and, after April 2022, the head of the Russian occupation administration of Kherson, released a video of Askaniia-Nova.

The video shows the feathered and tailed inhabitants of the reserve, but again, no tourists can be seen.

However, the man called the reserve a "popular place for tours", as over 5,000 tourists have supposedly visited Askaniia-Nova since the beginning of the 2024 tourist season.

"At least 5,000-7,000 more guests are expected by the end of the season," he added.

Background: At the end of April 2024, the Russians transported zebras from the Askaniia-Nova Biosphere Reserve to occupied Crimea.

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