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Melitopol mayor released five days after his abduction by Russian troops

Video posted on Telegram shows Zelensky speaking to Ivan Federov on the phone; mayor says he’ll need a couple days to recover before getting back to work

Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov. (Courtesy)
Melitopol mayor Ivan Fedorov. (Courtesy)

The mayor of Ukraine’s southern city of Melitopol has been released, Ukrainian authorities said Wednesday, days after Kyiv said he was abducted by invading Russian forces.

According to the Ukrainian president and parliament, mayor Ivan Fedorov was abducted on Friday by Russian soldiers occupying Melitopol, a city halfway between Mariupol and Kherson, because he “refused to cooperate with the enemy.”

On Wednesday, a video posted on Telegram showed President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking to him on the phone and telling him he was “happy to hear the voice of a man alive.”

Fedorov replies he is “much better.”

“Thank you for not abandoning me. I will need one or two days to recover and then I will be at your disposal to contribute to our victory,” he says.

The parliament said the mayor was seized while at the city’s crisis center dealing with supply issues.

Zelensky on Saturday called on the leaders of France and Germany to help secure the mayor’s release.

The mayor of Dniprorudne, another town in southern Ukraine, was also abducted on Sunday, drawing strong condemnation from the European Union.

Shortly after Federov’s abduction, local authorities said that Russia had installed a “new mayor” in his stead.

The area’s regional administration said a former member of the city council, Galina Danilchenko, was the new mayor. She was previously a member of the opposition on the council.

It was not clear what would happen to Danilchenko now that Federov had been released.

Zelensky at the time said 2,000 Ukrainians demonstrated in Melitopol on Saturday against the Russian invasion and to demand the release of their mayor.

“Do you hear, Moscow? If 2,000 people demonstrate in Melitopol against the occupation, how many are there in Moscow against the war?” he said in his video.

Before the Russian invasion began on February 24, Melitopol had a population of just over 150,000.

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