Ukraine: Mayor of Melitopol abducted by Russian troops
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Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of the office of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said on Wednesday that Ivan Fedorov had been freed. It comes after he was allegedly kidnapped by Russian forces last week.
Mr Tymoshenko said on Telegram: “A special operation to release Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov has just been successfully completed.”
He added that Mr Fedorov will return to his duties soon.
A video posted on social media shows a grinning Mr Zelensky speaking to Mr Fedorov over the phone.
The Ukrainian leader tells the mayor he is “glad to hear the voice of a living man”.
Mr Fedorov goes on to thank Mr Zelensky for “not abandoning me”.
He adds that he will need “one or two days to recover, and then I will be at your command to contribute to our victory”.
The city of Melitopol in southeastern Ukraine was one of the first to fall to Moscow.
Ukraine last Friday accused Russian forces of kidnapping Mr Fedorov.
Ukraine’s foreign ministry said in a statement: “The abduction of the mayor of Melitopol is classified as a war crime under the Geneva Conventions and the Additional Protocol, which prohibit the taking of civilian hostages during the war.”
Footage appeared to show the dramatic moment Mr Fedorov was captured and marched across a square in the city centre with a bag over his head.
Afterwards, Mr Zelenskyy accused the Kremlin of moving to a “new stage of terror”.
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He said: “They have transitioned into a new stage of terror, in which they try to physically liquidate representatives of Ukraine’s lawful local authorities.”
A new mayor of Melitopol – believed to have been installed by Russia – was introduced on local TV on Saturday.
In a televised address, Galina Danilchenko, a former member of the city council, her “main task is to take all necessary steps to get the city back to normal”.
On Sunday, Ukraine accused Russia of abducting a second mayor.
Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba said the mayor of Dniprorudne, Yevhen Matveyev, had been taken.
He tweeted: “Today, Russian war criminals abducted another democratically elected Ukrainian mayor, head of Dniprorudne Yevhen Matveyev.”
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