Ukraine’s government has accused the Russian military of abducting another mayor in an area that it has captured.
Yevhen Matveyev was seized in the southern town of Dniprorudne, Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba tweeted, accusing Russia of “terror” tactics.
Earlier, Russia installed a new mayor in Melitopol, after allegedly abducting the city’s previous incumbent.
Ukraine’s president accused Russia of trying to create “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine to break his country apart.
In her first public appearance, Melitopol’s newly installed mayor Galina Danilchenko urged residents not to take part in “extremist actions” and declared her main task was construction of “basic mechanisms under the new reality”.
Hundreds of people took part in a protest outside the city hall on Saturday to demand the release of previous incumbent Ivan Fedorov, who had refused to co-operate with Russian troops since they took the city on the third day of the invasion.
Mr Fedorov was last seen on Friday night being led away from his office by armed men with a bag over his head.
Russian authorities have not commented on his disappearance, but the prosecutor’s office of the Russian-backed breakaway eastern Ukrainian region of Luhansk has reportedly accused him of “terrorist activities”.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky demanded Mr Fedorov’s immediate release and asked the leaders of Israel, Germany and France to put pressure on Russia to do so.
In his latest video address on Saturday night, Mr Zelensky said Russia was to create “pseudo-republics” in Ukraine.
He praised those refusing to collaborate in Kherson, whose regional council had earlier adopted a resolution reaffirming that the region “has been, is and will be an inalienable part of the united state of Ukraine”.
Mr Zelensky also warned “certain figures” of dire personal consequences of any collaboration – an apparent reference to Ms Danilchenko.(BBC)
*PHOTO: Russian forces