KYIV: A Russian patrol has detained the director general of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the state-owned company in charge of the plant said on Saturday.

The UN nuclear watchdog said Russia had confirmed the move.

Ihor Murashov was detained on his way from the nuclear plant, Europe’s largest, to the town of Enerhodar on Friday, the head of state-owned Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said in a statement. “He was taken out of the car, and with his eyes blindfolded he was driven in an unknown direction,” Kotin wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding there was no immediate word on his fate.

Russia has not publicly commented on the issue.

“The IAEA sought clarification from the Russian authorities and has been informed that the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant was temporarily detained to answer questions,” said International Atomic Energy Agency spokesperson on Saturday.

Ukraine condemns ‘illegal detention’

On Saturday, Kyiv called for the immediate release of the director of Ukraine’s Moscow-held Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, condemning his “illegal detention”.

Ukraine’s foreign ministry said it “condemns in the strongest terms the illegal detention”. “The crime is yet another act of state terrorism by Russia and it represents a grave violation of international law. Russia must immediately release” him, it added.

Murashov “bears the main and exclusive responsibility for the nuclear and radiation safety” of the Zaporizhzhia plant, according to Kotin.

Troops ‘withdrawn’ from Lyman

Meanwhile, Moscow claimed it had withdrawn its troops from Lyman, a key town in eastern Ukraine that lies in one of the four Ukrainian regions that Russia has annexed.

“In connection with the creation of a threat of encirclement, the allied troops were withdrawn from the settlement of Krasny Lyman to more favourable lines,” Russia’s defence ministry said in its daily briefing, after Ukraine’s army said it “encircled” several thousand Russian troops near the town.

Earlier, head of Russia’s region of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov said Moscow should consider using a low-yield nuclear weapon in Ukraine after a major new defeat on the battlefield.

Published in Dawn, October 2nd, 2022

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