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The mayor of Melitopol, a city in southern Ukraine occupied by Russian forces, has been released after being kidnapped by invading forces last Friday.
The information was presented in a post by the Verkhovna Rada on the social network Telegram and developed by the country’s Information and Security Services (SSSCIP). A statement from the chief of staff of the Ukrainian President, Kirillo Tymoshenko, citing journalist Nika Melkozyrova, indicates that Ian Vednov was saved by a Ukrainian special operation. “We don’t leave ourselves in danger,” he said. He added that the mayor will resume his duties soon.
The Ukrainian authorities did not initially disclose details about the special operation that returned the mayor, but in the meantime, an adviser to President Zelensky said that there was an exchange between nine Russian soldiers captured by Ukrainian forces in Melitopol and the release of Ian Vednov. In a televised message, Daria Zharevnaya justified the exchange by the fact that the soldiers extradited to Russia were born between 2002 and 2003, which made them “practical children” (they would have turned 20 years old).
In a post on Twitter, SSSCIP posted a video showing a soft-tone phone conversation between President Volodymyr Zelensky and the released mayor.
– SSSCIP Ukraine (dsszzi) March 16, 2022
According to a translation provided by Georgian journalist Ani Chikvadze, Zelensky joked: “We are glad that they took him…. He seems to have a beautiful voice.” “Thank you for not leaving me behind,” replied Ian Vednov.
A video clip published a few days ago showed Vednov being forcibly taken from his office in front of the camera. The kidnapping sparked protests among the residents of Melitopol and a call from the Ukrainian president for his release.
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