A senior official at Ukraine’s Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant has been kidnapped by Russian forces, the Ukrainian state nuclear energy operator said Tuesday.
Valeriy Martyniuk, the plant’s deputy director general for human resources, was abducted on Monday from the Russian-occupied plant, Energoatom wrote on Telegram.
“[They] keep holding him at an unknown location and probably using methods of torture and intimidation,” the nuclear operator said.
Situated in southeastern Ukraine, Zaporizhzhia (ZNPP) is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Although it has been occupied by Russian forces since March, the plant is still run by Ukrainian staff.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered his government to take control of the plant, a plan that was summarily rejected by Energoatom head Petro Kotin.
Martyniuk’s alleged abduction comes after the detention of ZNPP’s chief Ihor Murashov on Oct. 1. Murashov was released after two days, and has not returned to his job at the plant.
In their Tuesday post, Energoatom called on the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director Rafael Grossi to “take all possible measures” for Martyniuk’s return.
“The arbitrariness of the invaders at Zaporizhzhya NPP must be stopped as soon as possible!” the company wrote.
IAEA did not immediately respond to the call to action. Grossi is scheduled to meet with Putin on Tuesday to discuss the possibility of a demilitarized zone around the power plant.
Reports of Martyniuk’s kidnapping also follow growing concern for the region around the plant, which has been bombarded by “kamikaze” drones for several weeks.
“The occupier uses all available weapons against the civilian residents of the region,” Oleksandr Starukh, the provincial governor, wrote on Telegram last week.
“Missiles, anti-aircraft guns, artillery, and now also so-called kamikaze drones. Be attentive!”
Zaporizhzhia, along with Donetsk, Luhansk, and Kherson, was annexed by Putin last month after a Kremlin-backed referendum in all four regions. Officials in the West have widely dismissed the proceedings as sham elections.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky responded by signing a law ruling out peace talks with Putin.
“He does not know what dignity and honesty are,” Zelensky said at the time.
“Therefore, we are ready for a dialog with Russia, but with another president of Russia.”