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Russian forces install new Melitopol mayor after abducting Ivan Fedorov

A new mayor was installed in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol on Saturday one day after Russian forces forcibly detained the city’s elected mayor, Ivan Fedorov.

Galina Danilchenko, a former member of the city council, was sworn in as acting mayor on local television Saturday, according to CNN.

Melitopol is in southern Ukraine. It has strong cultural ties to Russia, and many of its citizens speak the invading country’s language.

However, Federov, 33, publicly referred to the occupying Russian soldiers as “occupiers.” According to Ukrainian officials, Russians threw a bag over his head and drugged him out of his office Friday night, according to The New York Times.

Federov will almost certainly face terrorism charges in Luhansk, one of Russia’s recognized breakaway regions. He is accused of raising funds for a far-right Ukrainian nationalist organization.

Mayor Ivan Fedorov was taken from Melitopol’s crisis centre with a plastic bag over his head on Friday after he “refused to cooperate with the enemy,” according to Ukraine’s parliament.

Over 2,000 residents of the Russian-occupied city of Donetsk in the Kremlin-backed rebel region of Luhansk rallied in support of Fedorov on Saturday, while Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded his immediate release.

Danilchenko, on the other hand, said in a televised statement that she wanted to return the city to “normalcy.”

“Obviously, this is a sign of the weakness of the invaders. They did not find any support on our land, although they counted on it, because for years they have been lying to themselves that people in Ukraine were supposedly waiting for Russia to come,” Zelensky said.

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