The head of the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been detained by Russian forces, according to a statement from the state-owned company that runs the plant.
Petro Kotin, the president of the company Energoatom, said in a Telegram message that Ihor Murashov, the director general of the plant, was arrested on Friday on his way to the facility. He said Murashov was blindfolded and driven in an unknown direction. His current location is unknown.
Kotin said Murashov is the main person responsible for maintaining nuclear and radiation safety for the plant and demanded his release. He said he is appealing to the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, an independent arm of the United Nations, to take all necessary actions to free him.
“His detention by the ruscists jeopardizes the safety of operation of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant,” Kotin said.
Ukraine’s Foreign Affairs Ministry also condemned the arrest, calling it a manifestation of state terrorism by Russia and a violation of international law. The ministry called on the international community to end his detainment and emphasized the need to demilitarize the area around the plant.
Ukraine and the international community have expressed concerns about the stability of the power plant amid shelling and fighting in the area. Both Russia and Ukraine have accused the other side of using weapons near the plant and thus threatening its stability.
Engineers shut down the last operating nuclear reactor at the plant earlier this month to try to avoid a radiation leak.
The news of the detainment comes amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signing of annexation treaties on Friday for four regions of Ukraine, including the region of Zaporizhzhia. The United States has condemned the move as illegal and levied additional sanctions on Russian government officials and their families.