The mayor of the Ukrainian city of Melitopol has been kidnapped by Russian forces, according to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
Ukraine’s parliament has claimed Ivan Fedorov was abducted by a group of 10 armed men who put a plastic bag over his head.
Footage posted on Telegram by the deputy head of Ukraine’s presidential office appears to show Mr Fedorov being escorted across a square in the city centre.
Mr Zelenskyy equated the kidnapping to the actions of “IS terrorists”, and said Russian forces “have transitioned into a new stage of terror”.
The president warned: “They are trying to physically eliminate representatives of legitimate local Ukrainian authorities.”
Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has warned the abduction amounts to a war crime, and vowed that the perpetrators will be brought to justice.
“We call on the international community to respond immediately to the abduction of Ivan Fedorov and other civilians, and to increase pressure on Russia to end its barbaric war against the Ukrainian people,” its statement added.
The southern port city of Melitopol, which has a population of about 150,000 people, was captured by Russian forces on 26 February.
The prosecutor’s office of the Luhansk People’s Republic – a breakaway region of eastern Ukraine that is backed by Moscow – has accused Fedorov of “terrorist activities”.
Before the invasion began, US intelligence had warned that Russia was planning to detain and kill certain targets in Ukraine.
President Zelenskyy himself would likely be one of these targets.
• Vladimir Putin’s forces continued to launch airstrikes in Kyiv, Kharkiv and Mariupol on Friday
• Russia also used high-precision, long-range weapons to put military airfields in Lutsk and Ivano-Frankivsk “out of action”
• Thousands of civilians and soldiers on both sides are believed to have been killed in the invasion so far
• Putin has claimed there have been “certain positive developments” in talks between Ukraine and Russia
• Meanwhile, Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said Ukrainian forces have reached a “strategic turning point” in the war