Defiant residents in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol have gathered near the occupied district administration to protest against the alleged abduction of Mayor Ivan Fedorov by Russian forces.
Ukrainian officials have posted video saying it shows Ivan Fedorov being led away blindfolded on March 11.
In a message, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky accused the Russians of “moving to a new stage of terror”.
Melitopol, a small city in south-eastern Ukraine, was one of the first to fall to the Russians.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, arguing it felt threatened by its neighbour’s intent on joining Western-led organisations such as the NATO military alliance.
In his message on March 11, President Zelensky called Ivan Fedorov a “mayor who bravely defends Ukraine and the members of his community”.
“This is obviously a sign of weakness of the invaders,” the president said.
“They have moved to a new stage of terror in which they are trying to physically eliminate representatives of legitimate local Ukrainian authorities.”
Ivan Fedorov had said that his administration was not going toc o-operate with the Russians „in any way”.
The mayor said that invading forces had ransacked his offices, exiling his team to another location where they are attempting to continue running their city.
There have been protests in Melitopol every day since the Russian occupation.
On March 12, hundreds surrounded the administration building demanding the mayor’s release.