Ukrainian mayor kidnapped by Russian soldiers says he heard other captives being tortured

Ivan Fedorov was kidnapped by Russian troops on 11 March and released five days later

‘I could hear people scream’, mayor of Melitopol kidnapped by Russians speaks out

Ivan Fedorov, Melitopol mayor who was kidnapped by Russian forces and held for five days earlier this month, recounted his days in captivity and said he could hear other prisoners being tortured.

On 11 March, Russian forces abducted the 33-year-old man from a town square.

A video of the kidnapping was posted on Telegram by Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office.

The video, caught on surveillance cameras, showed Russian forces put a black bag over Mr Fedorov’s head and take him away from Melitopol’s crisis centre, where he was working.

He was released on 17 March after a special operation by Ukrainian forces.

In an interview with French television channel BFM TV, Mr Fedorov said he suffered “psychological violence” as his phone was taken away and he was cut off from any communication.

“Five soldiers were with me in the interrogation room,” he recalls.

He said that while he was being held, he could hear other prisoners being tortured.

“I heard in the cells next, cries of the tortured, and I understood their degree of violence because human lives do not count for them,” he said.

Russian forces launched a special military operation in Ukraine on 24 February to “de-Nazify and demilitarise” the region.

Mr Fedorov said the invasion started in Melitopol as early as 5am on that fateful day.

“When the whole city was asleep”, a Russian army strike targeted the military airfield of Melitopol, in about “200 metres from the houses,” he said.

“For two weeks, we were in an occupation situation,” he says.

During his time in captivity, Mr Fedorov said he realised that the Russians did not know anything about Ukraine.

“They weren’t prepared at all. They didn’t know anything about Ukraine and the city of Melitopol. They asked me questions about how the city budget is formed? Or who are the opinion leaders?”

“They said they wanted to liberate the city from the Nazis, they wanted to defend the Russian language,” he added.

“I told them 95% of us speak Russian already and nobody’s stopping us, so there’s no problem,” he was quoted as saying by NPR.

Over a month after the invasion, Ukraine’s forces continue to resist the Russian invasion as fierce fighting continued.

Mr Fedorov, who is in Paris now, said he does not see the Russians taking over Ukraine.

“No one expected such resistance,” he said.

“The Ukrainian army has been defending itself courageously for more than a month now.”

“All wars end one day. Either through diplomatic means or through military means. Through military means, Ukraine will never capitulate.”

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