Local recounts Kherson occupation and liberation

STORY: "We didn't know that our Ukrainian army is coming because we don't have water, we don't have light, we don't have any connection, no mobile, no WiFi, no nothing," she told Reuters.

Being under Russian occupation was like being in prison, Fedorova added.

She was already bound to taking care of her father, who was undergoing treatment for cancer. Instead of fleeing, the local English instructor stayed behind enemy lines for the next eight and a half months of Russian occupation.

"We could walk around the city. But everywhere we saw these Russian troops with a weapon. And you couldn't bring your mobile (phone) with you because they can read it. They could read what you have in it."

Kherson was one of four provinces that Russian President Vladimir Putin declared annexed last month and said would be part of Russia forever. The loss of the regional capital is a major psychological and strategic blow for Moscow.