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Ukrainian road agency, urging removal of signs, posts fake photo with colorful message for Russia

By on February 27, 2022 0

The photo of the blue road sign has been changed to read “Fuck You”, in three different ways.

“Let’s help them go straight to hell,” the agency wrote on Facebook. “Ukravtodor calls on all road organizations, territorial communities and local governments to immediately start dismantling nearby road signs.”

A spokesperson for Ukravtodor did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday.

The advisory comes as outgunned Ukrainian forces cling to their capital and other towns amid attacks by Russian forces in recent days. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said the fate of the nation was “being decided at the moment” and that Ukraine was “successfully repelling” attacks in Kyiv. Ukraine’s health minister said a total of 198 Ukrainians were killed in the fighting, while another 100,000 citizens fled to Poland, with at least as many internally displaced.

Leaders across Ukraine pleaded with citizens and other nations to support them in the struggle. Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko pleaded with other nations to intervene immediately against the assault which he said killed civilians. Vladyslav Atroshenko, mayor of the northern city of Chernigov, called on able-bodied civilians to take up arms to defend their city.

“People, men, armed, capable of protecting our city with your own weapon, please come to the deployment site to receive your instructions,” he said in a video shared on Facebook. “Today, whatever we can, for the organization of the defense of the city, we will not abandon the city to anyone.”

As fighting continues on the ground, travel on the country’s roads has become increasingly precarious. Klitschko, who urged people to stay in shelters to protect themselves from possible air raids, said movement inside Kyiv would continue to be restricted due to roadblocks. In the western city of Lviv, cranes moved huge concrete blocks on roads leading into the city on Saturday. Volunteers filled and stacked sandbags in an attempt to fortify Lviv, once considered a safe haven, against a Russian attack.

Some researchers tracking troops and shelters for civilians have used Google Maps as a tool to visualize military action in recent days. In the hours after the initial invasion on Thursday, Google Maps data showed road closures near the northeastern city of Kharkiv and slower traffic due to road closures in outside Kyiv. Using Google Maps, which analyzes phone movements to estimate road traffic, researchers were able to estimate when civilians in cars were likely stopped at roadblocks, while military vehicles drove past.

Ukravtodor also used Google Maps to alert citizens to Russian forces on the roads. The agency announced on Friday that the government had created a specialized bot system using Google Maps to point out X-shaped markings that authorities say Russian troops put on the roads. The agency wrote that the system, which involves Ukrainians taking photos of the markings, can “convey information about the relocation of enemies”.

“Our efforts are now aimed at helping the peaceful population. Women, children, the elderly and the sick … need a safe path to shelter,” Ukrainian Infrastructure Minister Alexander Kubrakov said in a statement posted on Facebook on Saturday. “Our team is developing routes to bypass areas of fighting and shelling, and direct civilian transport away from danger.”

Ukravtodor urges all Ukrainians to “block the enemy by all available methods!” Some of the methods listed by the agency include burning trees, burning tires and building barricades against Russian forces.

“The occupier must understand that they are not expected here and that they will be resisted in all the streets, all the roads!” the agency wrote on social media. “Let them even be afraid to look in the direction of our cities! Together towards victory! The occupier will be destroyed!

The Fake Sign Photo Capturing Real Ukrainian Anger widely circulated on Facebook, shared almost 40,000 times on Saturday. On social media, users posted both real and fake photos of signs on roads, businesses and cities telling Russian forces to “fuck off”.

Christo Grozev, Bulgarian journalist and executive director of the Dutch media Bellingcat, tweeted on how the road agency took her call to remove the signs “a little further” by also sharing the fake photo.

“The… sign is clearly their illustrative joke, not real traffic signs (at least for now),” Grozev wrote.

Rachel Lerman and Loveday Morris contributed to this report.