June 29 (Reuters) – Russia-installed officials in Ukraine’s Kherson region said their security forces had detained Kherson city mayor Ihor Kolykhayev on Tuesday after he refused to follow Moscow’s orders, while a Kherson local official said the mayor was abducted.
Kherson, a port city on the Black Sea, sits just northwest of the Russian-annexed Crimean peninsula. It was occupied during the first week of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in February, and a large part of the local population has left the region.
“I can confirm that Kolykhayev was detained by the commandant’s (military police) office,” Ekaterina Gubareva, the Moscow-appointed deputy head of the Kherson region, said on the Telegram messaging app.
Halyna Lyashevska, an adviser to Kolykhayev, said the mayor was abducted after refusing to cooperate with Russian occupiers of the Ukrainian.
“This morning, the mayor of Kherson Ihor Kolykhayev came to one of the utility facilities where the remaining employees of the city council were working,” Lyashevska said on her Facebook page.
“As soon as he got out of the car, he was immediately detained by the armed national guards and, most likely, the FSB,” she said, referring to Russia’s Federal Security Services.
Another Moscow-installed deputy in the region, Kirill Stremousov, told the Russian state RIA news agency earlier on Monday that Kolykhayev did “much damage” to Russia’s “denazification process” in Ukraine.
“Finally, he was neutralized,” RIA cited Stremousov as saying.
Moscow calls its actions a “special military operation” to disarm Ukraine and “denazify” its neighbour. Ukraine and its allies in the West say the fascist allegation is baseless and the war is an unprovoked act of aggression.
Reuters was not able to independently verify the reports of Kolykhayev’s abduction and there was no official confirmation from Ukrainian authorities.
Kolykhayev’s case follows past abductions of Ukrainian officials in territory under Moscow’s control, including Ivan Fedorov, mayor of Melitopol, who said he faced hours of “hard” interrogations when abducted in March.