Where is Ivan Fedorov? Video shows Russians abduct mayor of Ukrainian city with plastic bag over head
Russian forces have reportedly kidnapped Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of the city of Melitopol — located in the Zaporizhzhia region of southeastern Ukraine. According to the statement by the Ukrainian parliament, Fedorov was abducted by as many as ten Russian soldiers after he "refused to cooperate with the enemy". The elected mayor was kidnapped from Melitopol's crisis center with a plastic bag over his head.
The city, which has more than 1,50,000 residents, was recently occupied by Russian forces. However, Fedorov's shocking abduction prompted the residents to stage a protest rally demanding his immediate release. More than 2,000 Melitopol residents gathered in Luhansk for expressing their dissent on Saturday, March 12, 2022. Meanwhile, Russian forces have already installed a new acting Mayor in Ivan Fedorov's place.
Former city council member Galina Danilchenko was proclaimed the new mayor via the local TV news. Later, she issued a televised statement asking the residents to maintain normalcy. She promised to get the city "back to normal" and threatened those who might "provoke a reaction of bad behavior". "I ask you to keep your wits about you and not to give in to these provocations,” she added.
Meanwhile, concerns are rising across the country regarding the well-being of Ivan Fedorov, who was appointed the mayor of Melitopol in 2020. The 33-year-old brave Ukrainian earlier served as the first deputy head of the Zaporizhzhia Oblast Council.
Barely days before his abduction, Fedorov was awarded the Order for Courage III Class on March 6, 2022. He was honored for his courage and selfless actions in defending the city from Russian troops. The news of his arrest was confirmed by the office of the President. Kirill Timoshenko, the deputy head of the Presidential office, shared a video on Telegram showing how Fedorov was captured and escorted to the city center by Russian troops. You can find the video here.
Ukrainian President Zelenskiy is demanding the release of the mayor of Melitopol, a southern city now occupied by Russian troops. Ivan Fedorov, whose city’s civilians are protesting Russian occupation daily, was captured Friday https://t.co/eI2CCjydG4 pic.twitter.com/84pzcWNIYI— Bloomberg Quicktake (@Quicktake) March 13, 2022
Later, Ukraine's Member of Parliament Mariia Ionova claimed, "Kidnapped #Melitopol city mayor Ivan Fedorov is being tortured. He is being forced to break his oath of allegiance to Ukrainian people and join invaders’ side or resign. Help us free Ivan Fedorov!" In an earlier tweet, she also noted that Fedorov was "staying in the besieged city to secure the essential needs of the citizens."
Kidnapped #Melitopol city mayor Ivan Fedorov is being tortured. He is being forced to break his oath of allegiance to Ukrainian people and join invaders’ side or resign.— Mariia Ionova (@MPMaria_Ionova) March 12, 2022
Help us free Ivan Fedorov! Share this message!#FreeIvanFedorov #StandWithUkraine️ #StopRussia pic.twitter.com/iwReyDvj1A
Amid ongoing protests, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People's Republic opened a criminal case against Fedorov, accusing him of providing "financial and other assistance to the banned nationalist organization Right Sector in committing terrorist crimes against civilians in Donbas."