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A Ukrainian mayor who recently was freed as part of a prisoner swap is now opening up about his “dangerous” six days in captivity, during which he says he learned that “for Russians my life and the lives of civilians were worth zero.”
Ivan Fedorov, the mayor of Melitopol – a city of around 150,000 in southeastern Ukraine – spoke in Rome, Italy on Sunday after asking Pope Francis and the Vatican for help in establishing humanitarian corridors for citizens hoping to flee the death and destruction, according to Reuters.
“It was a dangerous six days because I understood that for Russians my life and the lives of civilians were worth zero,” Fedorov said, noting that he suffered “psychological” torture following his capture on March 11.
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“They came to me at night with five or seven soldiers and spoke for about four or five hours, hard dialogue,” he told Reuters.
“They wanted to make an example of me about what would happen if we did not agree to what the Russians wanted,” Fedorov added, also saying that “Russian soldiers assumed that they would be welcomed but they were not… and that is why the Russians were very, very angry.”
As it stands now, Fedorov said it’s not safe to walk the streets of Melitopol.
“There is no food in my city. There is no pharmacy. Half of my city is wrecked. More than 200 people have been kidnapped,” he said, according to Reuters.
Fedorov had been taken while at a crisis center in Melitopol and was led out the building with a plastic bag over his head, Ukraine’s parliament said. He was released from Russian custody on March 16.
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Kyrylo Tymoshenko, the deputy head of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s office, confirmed on Facebook that Zelenskyy had spoken with Fedorov following his release.
“We do not abandon ours,” Zelenskyy reportedly said.
Fox News’ Louis Casiano contributed to this report.