The list of people kidnapped in Ukraine is getting longer, sending shockwaves around the world and causing concerns about their fate. They’re Ukrainian civilians, activists, journalists, and at least 14 mayors of cities and villages across the embattled country.
On its website, the Association of Ukrainian Cities is appealing for the release of all mayors and local level officials. Meanwhile, news reports from the war front fuel fears about the whereabouts of those in captivity.
Ukrainian officials and residents told US media that the Mayor of Motyzhyn and her family were executed by the Russian army during the occupation of the town some 43 kilometres west of Kyiv. Motyzhyn Mayor Olga Sukhenko, her husband and son were abducted and killed by Russian troops, Ukraine government officials said. Their bodies were thrown into a pit an identified by local residents, according to media reports.
These executions are adding to the international outrage sparked by the massacre in Bucha, a town on the outskirts of Kyiv. The Russian retreat from Bucha uncovered scenes of mass killings, with bodies of people shot at close range and thrown into mass graves or on the street.
As the war in Ukraine enters its sixth week and with international diplomacy so far not seeming to bring an end to the conflict, appeals from Ukraine and elsewhere in the world are multiplying.
Calls from Gdansk and Kyiv
In a letter published in mid-March, Aleksandra Dulkiewicz, the Mayor of Gdansk, asked local-level politicians to express their solidarity with Ukraine and called on national and European counterparts to:
- Force the Russian government to open humanitarian corridors;
- Swiftly adopt decisions concerning the refugees’ reception and relocation in Europe
- Stop all trade relations with Russia and Belarus until the Russian army withdraws from Ukraine
“Every one of us can see that Ukraine stands alone against the aggression of a much more powerful invader,” Dulkiewicz wrote. The letter was signed by 100 mayors, including Eurocities members.
Municipalities in the rest of Europe are already doing their bit. From the onset of the war, cities have been receiving and integrating refugees fleeing Ukraine, as well as sending aid to those left behind.
The Brussels-Capital Region set up a dedicated platform to help refugees who have fled Ukraine: https://t.co/79TSG2jKHa
— Eurocities (@EUROCITIES) April 5, 2022
However, more is needed, stressed Vitaly Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv.
In a letter to Eurocities, Klitschko provided some guidelines on how to directly support the population in Kyiv. The appeal follows a 17 March meeting between the Mayor of Kyiv and Mayors and Deputy Mayors from Barcelona, Braga, Florence, Ghent, Leipzig, Nantes, Oslo, Paris, Rome, Rotterdam, Stockholm, Vienna and Warsaw.
“On behalf of Kyiv and the Ukrainian society, I ask for your support as the president of Eurocities to provide humanitarian assistance from cities of the Eurocities network, mainly in the form of food, as well as medicines, bandaging materials and personal care products for Kyiv humanitarian aid centre,” Klitschko’s letter states.
In addition, Kyiv residents need weapons and political support, the Ukrainian capital’s mayor stressed.
As of this writing, the list of 14 abducted Ukrainian mayors, includes:
Source: Association of Ukrainian Cities and Ukraine’s Mission in Belgium
Volodymyr Karaberov– Mayor of Mangush
Vasyl Mitko – Mayor of Nikolske
Yevheniy Matveev – Mayor of Dniprorudne
Mykola Sikalenko – Mayor of Tsyrkuniv
Oleksandr Babych – Mayor of Hola Prystan
Oleh Yahnienko – Mayor of Mylove
Iryna Lypka – Mayor of Molochansk
Oleksandr Levechko – Mayor of Nova Oleksandrivka
Mykola Rizak – Mayor of Tavriysk
Oleh Pylypenko – Mayor of Shevchenkove
Oleksandr Shmygol – Mayor of Vilhivka
Viktor Tereschenko, Mayor of Velykyi Burluk
Myroshnyk Oleh – Mayor of Bilovodsk
Vasyliy Mitko – Mayor of Nikolske