It has been sixteen days since Russian forces took over Melitopol. The battle for the city lasted roughly four days. After an initial Russian advance into the city led to the city’s leadership reportedly handing over control to the Russians, Ukrainian forces responded by launching a counterattack. Then, after around two days of fighting, Russian forces completely seized Melitopol on the 1st of March.
Heavy fighting in Melitopol. pic.twitter.com/9xjQ5rW9qC
— Aurora Intel (@AuroraIntel) February 25, 2022
Ten days later, on March 11 Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol, found himself abducted by Russian troops after he was reluctant to cooperate with the Russian occupying force and reportedly kept a Ukrainian flag up in his office. The Russians then installed their own handpicked mayor who is much more cooperative and supportive.
The mayor of #Melitopol Ivan Fedorov was kidnapped, said Anton Gerashchenko
According to him, Fyodorov refused to cooperate with the Russian military occupying the city. He was detained at the city crisis center, where he was in charge of the city's life support. pic.twitter.com/mCzfCzDWzQ
— NEXTA (@nexta_tv) March 11, 2022
Nothing else was heard about the former mayor until yesterday when the Ukrainian government announced they secured his release but with no initial explanation of how. However, press aide to the Ukrainian president Darya Zarivanya was later quoted as saying, “Ivan Fedorov was released from Russian captivity … for him, Russia received nine captured soldiers who were born in 2002 and 2003. These are actually children.”
?? says that mayor of Melitopol was released “after a special operation”. Zelensky speaks to him& jokes: “we are happy they took you.. “You seem to have a very lively voice”, he says.
Mayor:”Thank you for not dropping me”.
Z: “We don’t drop our own”. pic.twitter.com/ciOm6NfQMd
— Ani Chkhikvadze (@achkhikvadze) March 16, 2022