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Vyacheslav Gladkov, the governor of Russia's Belgorod Oblast, told Russian state news agency RIA Novosti on May 22 that the "majority" of residents in the border villages of Russia's Belgorod Oblast, including the town of Grayvoron, have fled.
"We are currently completing a house-to-house inspection of the bordering villages and the town of Grayvoron. The majority of the population has left the area. For those who don't have the means, we are assisting with transportation, and for those who have the means, they are leaving in their own vehicles," Gladkov said.
Gladkov announced a "counter-terrorism operation" in Belgorod Oblast amid reported attacks by Russian anti-government groups.
During such operations, Russian authorities may implement increased identification checks and law enforcement presence in public areas, enforce mandatory evacuations in specific regions, and temporarily close down industrial facilities that handle explosive, radioactive, chemical, or biological materials.
Earlier on May 22, the Russian Volunteer Corps, allegedly fighting on Ukraine's side, claimed its members conducted combat operations in the Belgorod region bordering Ukraine.
A similar group, the Freedom of Russia Legion, said it was "returning home" to Russia and urged Russian citizens not to oppose their arrival. Subsequently, the group reported capturing the settlements of Kozinka and Gora-Podol and starting an assault on the town of Grayvoron in Belgorod Oblast.
According to Gladkov, three people were injured in Grayvoron as a result of what he called an attack by a Ukrainian sabotage group. He previously claimed two people had been wounded in a strike on a village near Grayvoron.
The Kyiv Independent is unable to independently verify these claims.