During a visit to Paris, a Ukrainian mayor talks about his arrest by the Russians
The mayor of Melitopol, a city in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine, told Paris on Thursday how he was arrested by Russian soldiers and held for several days on March 11, and called on the French to beware of propaganda from Moscow.
“I was in a crisis center in Melitopol, Russian soldiers came, they told me they were arresting me on the pretext that I was funding a Ukrainian radical party that I didn’t even know existed”said Ivan Fedorov on the television channel BFM-TV.
“They took me to prison, to a cell where I spent several hours without any means of communication. I couldn’t even call my parents. I heard screams from tortured people in the cells next door”he continued.
After the kidnapping of Ivan Fedorov on March 11, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky called on his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Olaf Scholz to help free him. Mr. Fedorov was released a few days later: the Ukrainian presidency released a video on March 16 of Volodymyr Zelensky talking to him on the phone. Then, on March 21, Tatiana Moskalkova, human rights representative in the Kremlin, spoke about her exchange for nine Russian prisoners.
“Russian soldiers kidnapped me to show my colleagues what to do with those who refuse to cooperate with Russia”the mayor explained to the journalists, in English, after a meeting with the president of the Senate, Gérard Larcher.
Fedorov claimed on Thursday, while in Paris, that he learned that Russian soldiers were going to teachers’ homes in Melitopol to force them to adopt Russian curricula.
They want to impose new programs on schools from the 1er Aprilhe said. We hope that won’t happen. It’s dangerous for kids to go back to school if Melitopol is bombed every day†
He called on the French to be wary of Russian propaganda.
“Russian propaganda works very well and EU citizens do not understand what is going on. They think that war is very far away (…) Citizens need to understand one thing: if you are not united to help us win this war, war will come to the European Union. †
When asked what he thought of Russian promises to withdraw from the suburbs of Kiev and Chernihiv (north), the mayor replied: ” I do not believe it. “ “It is not Putin who decides, it is our soldiers who make it possible. † After the Russian-Ukrainian negotiations in Istanbul on Tuesday, the Russians “they have bombed our buildings, they are shooting at our women and children”added the mayor, who will be received at the Elysée on Friday.