A boy rides a bike in the city of Slovyansk, eastern Ukraine, with a Ukrainian state emblem in the background.
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For the first time in three months, Alla Grebenkova says she can go out on the streets of this city in eastern Ukraine without fear of being recognized as Ukrainian.The rebels fled Slovyansk, a city of 100,000 that had been their stronghold, over the weekend as Ukrainian troops mounted an offensive. They left behind a city heavily damaged by fighting and riven by vehemently differing views. The government soldiers may have won the battle for the physical city but not yet for its people's hearts and minds. The city, 150 kilometers from the border with Russia had once been part of the Russian Empire and Russian is its dominant mother tongue.Those easterners claim the Kiev government aims to suppress their use of the Russian language and wipe out their ethnic identity.Although most of the city's buildings are still standing, many suffered damage.
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