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Ukraine crisis forces some Russians to work, study from home again

FILE PHOTO - A general view of a multi-story residential building, which was damaged by shelling from Ukrainian armed forces, according the region's governor, in Belgorod, Russia October 13, 2022. REUTERS/Stringer

People in Russia's Belgorod region were being asked to work and study from home again on Friday - this time not because of the coronavirus pandemic but because of the eight-month-old war in neighbouring Ukraine.

When President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday imposed martial law on four Russian-occupied regions of Ukraine in response to battlefield reverses, he also placed several Russian border regions including Belgorod on a "medium alert", bringing the war closer to home for millions of ordinary Russians.

Putin's decree directed those regional administrations to carry out tasks including stepping up support for the military, and also gave them extra powers, including the ability to restrict freedom of movement.

In a statement on Telegram after a new regional task force meeting, Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said it was recommending that firms in the city of Belgorod and close to the border find ways to allow staff to work from home.

There have been a number of attacks in recent weeks on power facilities and other infrastructure in the regional capital and near to the province's 400-km (250-mile) frontier with Ukraine, as well as on fuel and ammunition depots.

Belgorod's schools and colleges had already been told to close for two weeks. Gladkov said that, when they returned, those in the city and nine border regions should operate by distance learning until Dec. 1.

The regional administration would also support any residents of the city or border regions who wanted to leave the area temporarily.

"The Moscow region is already ready to accept 500 Belgorod residents at one of its sanatoriums," he said, adding that transport, food and accommodation would all be provided for free.

(Reporting by Kevin Liffey; Editing by Josie Kao)

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