Russian forces kidnapped Yevgeny Matveyev, mayor of the city of Dniprorudne in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast, Zaporizhzhia Region State Administration head Oleksandr Starukh stated on Facebook Sunday morning.
"War crimes are becoming systemic. The mayor of Dniprorudne has been abducted," Starukh wrote.
This was corroborated by Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko, who referred to it as a "terrorist tactics to install puppet regimes at [a] local level."
Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba took to Twitter stating that "Today, Russian war criminals abducted another democratically elected Ukrainian mayor."
Today, Russian war criminals abducted another democratically elected Ukrainian mayor, head of Dniprorudne Yevhen Matveyev. Getting zero local support, invaders turn to terror. I call on all states & international organizations to stop Russian terror against Ukraine and democracy. pic.twitter.com/jEPTBTLikY— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) March 13, 2022
He called on all nations to "stop Russian terror against Ukraine and democracy."
Zaporizhzhia Regional Military Administration spokesperson Ivan Arefiev later confirmed Starukh's claims, saying the mayor had been kidnapped at around 8:30 a.m. local time Sunday morning, Interfax reported.
If true, this would be the second reported abduction of a mayor in the Zaporizhzhia Oblast by Russian forces since the invasion of Ukraine began.
On Friday, Russian forces reportedly kidnapped Melitopol Mayor Ivan Fedorov. These claims were later supported by videos released by CNN depicting Russian soldiers outside a municipal building. CNN stated they have verified the authenticity of these videos.
Fedorov is now facing terrorism charges after a criminal case was opened by the prosecutor's office of the Russian-backed breakaway state of the Luhansk People's Republic, according to CNN.
Ukraine's parliament claimed on Sunday that a new mayor has been installed in Melitopol by Russian forces, despite former city council member Galina Danilchenko having already been announced on local TV Saturday as the new mayor, SkyNews reported.
On Sunday, Ukraine's Deputy Interior Minister Yevhen Yenin said on TV that Ukraine was taking "certain measures" to free Fedorov from Russian captivity, Pravda reported.
Continued dialogue with PM @naftalibennett. We talked about Russian aggression and the prospects for peace talks. We must stop repressions against civilians: asked to assist in the release of captive mayor of Melitopol and local public figures #StopRussia— Володимир Зеленський (@ZelenskyyUa) March 12, 2022
Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelensky claimed on Twitter that he asked Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to "assist in the release of captive mayor of Melitopol."