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Officials announced Tuesday that Russian forces had abducted Kherson Mayor Igor Kolikhaev after he refused to abandon his city despite months of Russian occupation.
The Kherson mayor said he was doing his duty by remaining in the besieged city, which has been occupied by Russian troops since late March.
Ukrainian officials have been sounding the alarm that Russia is looking to annex Kherson, which sits roughly 80 miles north of the occupied Crimean Peninsula, since April.
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Tuesday, adviser to the mayor, Halyna Lyashevska, told Ukrainian news outlet Pravda that “they took Igor Kolykhaev.”
Details surrounding his disappearance remain unclear, but Kolykhaev is just the latest in a long line of Ukrainian civilians and officials who have been abducted by Russian forces.
Russia has concentrated its efforts in southern and eastern Ukraine, and regions like Kherson have felt the brunt of the Russian invasion for months.
Regional officials reported earlier this week that civilian abductions have increased, and fighting-age men have reportedly found themselves the target of Russian conscription.
Tens of thousands of Ukrainians have been forcibly deported into Russia while thousands more have been placed in “filtration camps” spread throughout eastern Ukraine.
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City and regional officials have not only been abducted, but a number of officials and their families have been killed by Russian forces including Mayor Olga Sukhenko, from the town of Motyzhyn, whose body was found with her hands bound in a shallow grave alongside her husband and son.
The United Nations has reported more than 4,700 civilian deaths since Russia’s invasion began in February. However, the official death count is expected to be substantially higher.
Casualties and the true impact of Russia’s invasion remain largely unknown in parts of eastern and southern Ukraine.
Only after Russian forces retreated from northern regions in Ukraine in late March, including from the town of Motyzhyn just west of Kyiv, were officials able to start to uncover the depth of atrocities committed there.