A new mayor has been installed in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol, which is under Russian military control, after the elected mayor was kidnapped on Friday, according to the Zaporozhye regional administration.
Here's what we know about the situation in the city:
- Melitopol is a city in southern Ukraine that lies between the besieged city of Mariupol and the now Russian-occupied city of Kherson. Russian forces occupied Melitopol within days of the invasion beginning, but the city has seen sporadic protests since.
- On Friday, Melitopol mayor, Ivan Fedorov, was seen on video being led away from a government building in the city by armed men.
- A short time later, the Russian-backed Luhansk regional prosecutor claimed that Fedorov had committed terrorism offenses and was under investigation. According to a message on the Luhansk prosecutor's website, Fedorov is being accused of assisting and financing terrorist activities and being part of a criminal community.
- Fedorov's detention by the armed men is the first known instance of a Ukrainian political official being detained by Russian, or Russian-backed forces, since the invasion began.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded his immediate release, saying it was "crime against democracy" and Russia has "switched to a new stage of terror" in its invasion by "trying to physically eliminate representatives of the legitimate local Ukrainian authorities."
- The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry called Fedorov's detention an "abduction" and a "war crime."
- Hundreds of people protested the kidnapping outside Melitopol's city hall, with the crowd chanting "Freedom for the Mayor."
- On Saturday, the Zaporozhye regional administration installed a new mayor, Galina Danilchenko, a former member of the city council.
- In her televised statement, which was posted by the regional administration on Telegram, Danilchenko said that her "main task is to take all necessary steps to get the city back to normal."