The elected Ukrainian mayor of Kherson was arrested Tuesday, according to pro-Russian officials in the city, hours before the region's Russian-backed administration announced plans for a referendum.
Ihor Kolykhaiev's arrest comes amid growing efforts by the Russian-appointed authorities in the region to strip it of Ukrainian associations, as well as occasional assassination attempts against people collaborating with the Russians.
"I confirm that Kolykhaiev was detained by the commandant's office," Kateryna Gubareva, an official in the interim administration of the Kherson region, said late Tuesday.
Kolykhaiev has remained in the city throughout the occupation, but the Russian-backed authorities had removed him from office.
Speaking about his arrest, Kirill Stremousov, deputy head of the military-civilian administration of the Kherson region, said Kolykhaiev had "posed as a benefactor" but "made every effort to ensure that some people continued to believe in the return of neo-Nazism."
Stremousov also claimed, without offering evidence, that Kolykhaiev "stole millions, and gave people a penny."
"I believe that just retribution will come to all those who want blood, death and war," he added.
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