Russia holds 8 Ukrainian mayors captive: report

Russia is accused of holding eight Ukrainian mayors captive amid the war between the two Eastern European countries, according to an organization of Ukrainian mayors.

All eight mayors are believed to have been abducted in the four months after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the “special military operation” in Ukraine in late February under the guise of “liberating” the Donbass region, an eastern region with a high concentration of Russian speakers. .

According to the Association of Cities of Ukraine, many mayors come from towns, villages and settlements that remain under occupation in southern and eastern Ukraine.

Details of where the mayors were being held or their condition remained unknown, but their capture sparked war crimes allegations by Ukrainian authorities.

Russia is accused of kidnapping eight Ukrainian mayors as the war between the two Eastern European countries continues. Above, a man carries. Ukrainian flag in Washington, DC on February 25, 2022.
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

The most recent alleged kidnapping involved Petro Zbarovskyi, the village head of Novotroitsky, on Friday. Several other mayors were kidnapped – Ihor Kolykhaev from Kherson, Valentina Kostenko from Veliko Kopaniv, Dmytro Lyakhno from Gornostaiv and Serhii Khilchenko from Khrestiv were also taken into Russain’s custody last Thursday, according to the association.

Other mayors kidnapped in March include Yevhen Matveyev from Dniprorudne, Oleksandr Shmygol from Vilkhiv and Oleksandr Babich from Holopristan, according to the association.

“The Association of Cities of Ukraine continues to appeal to international organizations for the protection of local officials captured by the Russian aggressor and calls on everyone to join in their release,” the association wrote in a statement. press calling for the release of the mayors.

Ukrainian and international authorities have already raised concerns about these abductions.

According to Radio Free Europe, Oleksandr Starukh, the head of the military administration of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhya region, wrote in a Facebook post after Matveyev’s kidnapping: “War crimes are becoming more and more systematic.”

Josep Borrell Fontelles, the European Union’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, warned against the kidnapping of Ukrainian mayors and other political authorities in March.

“The EU strongly condemns the kidnapping of the mayors of Melitopol and Dniprorudne by the Russian armed forces. This is yet another attack on democratic institutions in #Ukraine and an attempt to establish illegitimate alternative government structures in a sovereign country,” he tweeted. Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, was released from Russian captivity in March.

Russia has faced other allegations of captures of Ukrainian politicians throughout the conflict.

Last week, Enerhodar Mayor Dmytro Orlov accused Russia of kidnapping Yormolenko Borys Heorhiyovych, a member of the city’s government who has held pro-Ukrainian views.

Newsweek contacted the Russian Ministry of Defense for comments.


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