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LVIV, Ukraine — Russian forces freed the mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol in exchange for nine of their captured conscripts, an official from Ukraine’s presidential office said Wednesday.
Kyiv accused the Russians of kidnapping Mayor Ivan Fedorov about a week ago. Surveillance video showed him being marched out of city hall apparently surrounded by Russian soldiers.
Residents of Melitopol, a city in southeast currently under Russian control, have been protesting to demand his release.
Daria Zarivna, spokeswoman of the head of Ukraine’s president’s office, said Wednesday that Fedorov has been released from captivity, and Russia “got nine of its captive soldiers, born in 2002-2003, practically children, conscripts Russia’s Defense Ministry said weren’t there.”
MELITOPOL, UKRAINE: Smoke floats above Melitopol, a small town in southeastern Ukraine, 07 May 2004. AFP PHOTO/ Sergei SUPINSKY/ ss (Photo credit should read SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP via Getty Images)
Moscow initially denied sending conscripts to fight in Ukraine, but later the Russian military admitted that some conscripts have been involved in the offensive and even got captured by Ukrainian forces.