May 26, 2022

Zelenskyy: Kidnapping of Melitopol mayor a ‘crime against democracy’

In yet another shocking development amid the conflict in Ukraine, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy alleged late on Friday that Russia kidnapped the mayor of Melitpol in an act he said was reminiscent of those committed by “ISIS terrorists,” as The Hill reported.

Mayor Ivan Fedorov was reportedly detained and abducted by a group comprised of roughly 10 people while walking in the Melitopol city center, and, according to the Ukrainian parliament, he was taken away after a plastic bag was placed over his head.

In a video address to his country and to the world, Zelenskyy decried the kidnapping, saying, “Today in Melitopol the invaders captured mayor of the city, Ivan Fedorov. A man who courageously defends Ukraine and the people of his community.”

Blasting the Russian attackers responsible, Zelenskyy continued, “Obviously, this is a sign of the weakness of the invaders. They did not find any support on our land. Although they counted on it. Because for years they have been lying to themselves that people in Ukraine were supposedly waiting for Russia to come.”

Zelenskyy slammed Russia’s actions as a “crime against democracy,” adding, “[t]hey have switched to a new stage of terror, when they are trying to physically eliminate representatives of the legitimate local Ukrainian authorities. It is clear to any democratic state in the world that a legitimately elected mayor is a true representative of the people.”

As NPR noted, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine has since asked for assistance from the international community in helping to secure Fedorov’s freedom and to secure accountability for a host of other offenses Russian troops are said to have committed since their invasion began.

“The fact of the abduction of the mayor of Melitopol, along with hundreds of other facts of war crimes by Russian occupiers on the Ukrainian soil, are being carefully documented by law enforcement agencies. The perpetrators of this and other crimes will be brought to the strictest responsibility,” the ministry said on Facebook.

As the New York Post reported, the Russian military on Saturday installed a replacement mayor in Melitopol, placing former city council member Galina Danilchenko in charge of the city led by Fedorov until his Friday abduction.

Though over 2,000 citizens of Melitopol turned out to rally in support of Fedorov on the same day Danilchenko assumed control of the city, the new mayor urged citizens to get “back to normal” and discouraged anyone from acting in a manner that could “provoke a reaction of bad behavior,” though whether they will heed that advice in the midst of their justifiable outrage is something that remains to be seen.

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