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A Russian vehicle is parked outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, on September 1.
A Russian vehicle is parked outside the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, on September 1. (Alexander Ermochenko/Reuters)

The director general of Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been detained by a Russian patrol, the president of state nuclear company Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said in a statement on Saturday.

Director General Ihor Murashov was in his vehicle on his way from the plant when he was “stopped, he was taken out of the car, and with his eyes blindfolded he was driven in an unknown direction. For the time being there is no information on his fate,” Kotin said. 

“Murashov is a licensed person and bears main and exclusive responsibility for the nuclear and radiation safety of the Zaporizhzhya NPP,” Kotin said, adding that his detention “jeopardizes the safety of operation of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant.”

Kotin called on the Russians to release Murashov and urged the Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency Rafael Grossi to “free” him.

Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs “strongly condemns the illegal detention” of Murashov in a statement released on its website Saturday. 

“This crime is another manifestation of state terrorism from the side of Russia and a gross violation of international law. Russia should immediately free the Director General of the Zaporizhzhia NPP,” it said.  

“We call on the international community, in particular the UN, the IAEA and the G7, to also take decisive measures to this end,” the statement added. 

Some background: The Zaporizhzhia plant has been a focal point in the war, as both the Russians and Ukrainians have blamed each of shelling near Europe’s largest nuclear power station.

Since early March, when Russia captured the plant, international and local experts have voiced grave warnings, not only for the safety of the plant’s workers, but also for fear of a nuclear disaster that could affect thousands of people in the surrounding area.

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