FRANCE/Vienna (April 1, 2022)–Vienna’s mayor Michael Ludwig received his Ukrainian counterpart Ivan Fedorov, mayor and city leader of the besieged Ukrainian city of Melitopol.
Fedorov, like several other Ukrainian politicians, had been abducted by Russian units two weeks ago and had been missing for several days.
The Ukrainian parliament later said Fedorov had been abducted by armed men who had put a plastic bag over his head. Surveillance footage was posted on social media showing the moment he was led across a square in the city center. According to the head of Ukraine’s Presidential Office, he was released in exchange for nine captured Russian conscripts.
Russia got back nine captured servicemen who were born between 2002 and 2003 and are practically still children. Moscow had initially denied sending conscripts to fight in Ukraine.
The conversation in Vienna’s City Hall, which was also attended by Ukraine’s ambassador, Vasyl Khymynets, was primarily about how to help Ukraine’s civilian population in heavily contested cities, such as Melitopol.
In connection with the war in Ukraine, the city of Vienna has already organized 16 articulated trucks with about 95 tons of relief supplies. Six trucks with hospital supplies went to a cancer clinic in Lviv, three trucks with protective equipment also had Lviv and Ivano Frankivsk as their destination. But it is not only in Ukraine directly that help is needed. Hundreds of thousands of people on the run need to be cared for in neighboring countries. Therefore, Vienna also organized transports to Moldova and Poland.
Mayor Ludwig: “As the city of Vienna, we have been cooperating with Ukrainian cities in the health and education sectors for years. Our main focus is on helping the suffering civilian population – this is also a concern of Mayor Fedorov. Therefore, we will increase our aid deliveries in order to effectively and sustainably help the people on the ground who have to witness the endless suffering and the consequences of this warlike aggression.”
The City of Vienna has been supporting cities in Ukraine for quite some time. As early as March 2021, hospital beds, mattresses, mobilization chairs and medical equipment were brought to Ukraine by seven trucks from stocks of the Vienna Health Network, which were eventually used in hospitals in the cities of Kyiv, Lviv, Nadwirna, Kolomyia and Melitopol. In June 2021, three trucks were loaded with school furniture and sent to support public schools in Melitopol and Drohobych, as well as the Austria Library there. Mayor Fedorov was already in Vienna in September 2021 and held talks with representatives of the city at that time, among other things about the aid deliveries made by the city of Vienna for Melitopol.
About Ivan Sergeevich Fedorov
Ivan Sergeevich Fedorov born August 29, 1988 in Melitopol, is a Ukrainian politician who was elected mayor of Melitopol in 2020 and was kidnapped in 2022 after Russia invaded Ukraine and occupied his city.
In 2015, he was elected first deputy chairman of the Zaporizhzhya oblast regional parliament. In 2020, he succeeded Serhij Minko as mayor of Melitopol.
On March 11, 2022, Fedorov was captured by the Russian occupiers. Fedorov had previously refused to follow the occupation forces’ instructions to ban demonstrations that formed in the wake of the occupation.
After his capture, former city councilor Halyna Danylchenko was installed by Russia as governor. She announced on March 13 that she was forming a committee to take over the city leadership and called on residents to adapt “to the new reality.” At the same time, she demanded that residents stop demonstrating against Russian occupation forces. President Volodymyr Zelenskyy then threatened the governor with death.
Fedorov served six days in Melitopol’s remand prison before he was released as part of a prisoner exchange for nine Russian prisoners of war.
Fedorove also received a warm welcome in France from President Emmanuel Macron. Macon said in a tweet “It is difficult to imagine what the mayor of Melitopol, abducted by the Russian army, survived. Now he is free and we heard his story. She is stunning. I expressed to him and to the deputies of the Verkhovna Rada who came with him our admiration and support. Side by side with Ukraine, decisively and to the end!”
Source: Vienna City Government – Magistrat der Stadt Wien and Vienna International News