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Russian troops, who had entered the city of Slavutych, where the employees of the Chernobyl power plant live, left

The mayor of the city of Slavutych, where the employees of the Chernobyl plant live, announces to the World that Russian troops, which had surrounded the city for a month and entered it on Saturday, left, denying reports that the city was occupied. “It hasn’t been there for two days”says Yuri Fomichev.

“A few days ago, we were given an ultimatum: either we surrender or the enemy will attack us. We have decided that our city will not surrender without a fight”, he says. The Ukrainian army is not present in the city. “We have been in the occupied zone for a long time. We cannot bring food, medicine and weapons. Our army could only help us by shelling the enemy troops approaching the town. » The fighting lasted two days, he said.

“They were simple inhabitants of Slavutych who took up arms and defended the city. They are not professional soldiers, they went to defend the city because it had to be done. » On Saturday, a huge demonstration was held in Slavutych. “There were a lot of people, at least 5,000 people. I was on my way to come from a neighboring village. I was there for security reasons, to prevent the occupiers from threatening the city with capturing me”says the mayor.

Along the way, Yuri Fomichev was ambushed. “I had to admit that I was mayor. I demanded to meet their commander to prevent the bombardment of the city, where there are neither armed forces, nor soldiers, nor weapons. They took me to see their commander. » He negotiated the departure of the Russians. “Their only condition, which we accepted, was to let them check the buildings to make sure there were no weapons. Our condition was that the city remain under the Ukrainian flag and live according to Ukrainian law”says the mayor, who told them that he had no intention of cooperating with them.

“We had to act quickly to prevent the bombardment of the city. When the demonstrators learned that I had been captured, they demanded that I be released and the occupiers leave. They were shouting “Go home!” » The mayor was later released and went to the protest. “The occupiers were very afraid that among these demonstrators there could be armed people shooting at them. I told them, “I’ll go first, you follow me and if they shoot, they’ll shoot me.” »

No one fired except the Russians – in the air – to intimidate the crowd. Without success. In front of the demonstrators, Yuri Fomichev reaffirmed that Slavutych, built after the Chernobyl accident in 1986, was “Ukrainian and that it was out of the question to change the flag, laws and cooperate with the Russians”.

He is now trying to “do everything so that people can survive here and hold on”, despite the almost total isolation of the city. According to him, the Russians agreed to leave because “the city is not strategic for them. We are far from the front line and do not have big companies”.

Another element seems decisive to him: the presence in Slavutych of the employees of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, who ensure its operation. “In Russia there are no such specialists, assures Yuri Fomichev. Maybe that’s why they don’t touch the city too much. »

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) again expressed on Sunday its concern about the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, taken by the Russian army at the start of the conflict. “There has been no employee turnover for almost a week” on the site, noted the Agency. She worries about the fatigue of employees who manage daily operations at the radioactive waste site, which raises concerns about the possibility of human error.

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