Joy as street lights back on in Ukraine’s Kharkiv

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Street lighting has returned to Kharkiv, sparking joy in Ukraine’s second-largest city that has been plunged into darkness and shelled regularly by Russian forces for more than a year.

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Public lighting was switched on for just under two hours in the city center on Tuesday evening, an AFP journalist reported.

The decision followed talks between Mayor Igor Terekhov and security officials, city authorities said.

Kharkiv lies about forty kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border and has been subjected to regular bouts of deadly shelling.

Car headlights had been the main source of lighting in the city at night for more than a year, Terekhov was quoted as saying in a statement.

“During that time, there were a lot of accidents in which people were injured,” he added. Street lighting will be gradually expanded to include more districts, the mayor said.

The return of the lights lifted spirits in Kharkiv, which was home to around 1.5 million people before Russia invaded last February.

“Despite the wishes of the enemy, our city of reinforced concrete lives on and shines,” said a story in the Kharkiv Times.

Local writer Anna Ghin said residents of Kharkiv had celebrated “victory of light over darkness.

“I have not felt such strong emotions in a long time,” she wrote on Facebook.

Some people shouted “Glory to Ukraine” when officials turned on the lights, she added.

“I saw a woman sobbing so hard she could not utter a word. She only cried into her phone ‘Light, Light, Light’,” Ghin wrote.

Painter Nikita Titov, whose patriotic posters have gone viral in Ukraine since the invasion, posted a drawing of a streetlamp against a starry sky, that received more than 7,000 “likes” on Facebook.

Since last October, Russia has pounded Ukraine’s infrastructure, leaving millions in the cold and dark.

Despite the intense aerial bombardment campaign Moscow has failed to destroy the pro-Western country’s electricity network.

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