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Kidnapped’ mayor of Ukrainian city of Melitopol is freed after being swapped for nine captured Russian conscript soldiers

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The mayor of Ukraine’s southern city of Melitopol has been released, days after Kyiv said he was abducted by invading Russian forces.

In a phone call shared by the Ukrainian government, Ivan Fedorov thanked the president for not ‘abandoning’ him and said he will be ready to serve again after ‘one or two days to recover’.

Before his release, Fedorov was seen in chilling CCTV footage with a plastic bag placed over his head as he was escorted out of a building and across Melitopol’s Victory Square by 10 armed men on last Friday.

Ukrainian President Vlodymyr Zelensky called for help from Germany and France to secure Fedorov’s release and the kidnap was also condemned by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in a post on Twitter.

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According to the Ukrainian president and parliament, mayor Ivan Fedorov was abducted because he ‘refused to cooperate with the enemy’.

On Wednesday a video posted on Telegram showed President Volodymyr Zelensky speaking to him on the phone and telling him he was ‘happy to hear the voice of a man alive’.

President Volodymyr Zelensky phones freed mayor of Melitopol.

Fedorov replies he is ‘much better’.

‘Thank you for not abandoning me. I will need one or two days to recover and then I will be at your disposal to contribute to our victory,’ he says.

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In response, President Zelensky reportedly said: ‘We don’t abandon our own.’

Dasha Zarivna, a spokeswoman for the Ukrainian presidency, said on Ukrainian television late Wednesday that Federov was swapped for nine captured Russian soldiers, aged 20 and 21.

‘These are basically children, conscripts, who according to the Russian defence ministry are not present in Ukraine,’ Zarivna said.

‘But the whole world sees again that they are there.’

The parliament said the mayor was seized while at the city’s crisis centre dealing with supply issues.

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