On March 26th, Russian troops entered the northern Ukrainian city of Slavutych, seized a hospital and took the mayor as hostage. Slavutych is, about 100 miles north of Kyiv near the Belarus border, was built after the 1986 Chernobyl disaster to house the nuclear power plant’s workers.
According to media reports, after the mayor’s capture, hundreds of residents of Slavutych carrying a giant Ukrainian flag filled the streets to protest the Russian invasion. Russian troops opened fire into the air and threw flash-bang grenades into the crowd, but the residents did not disperse; on the contrary, more of them showed up. The Russians were eventually forced back to the city’s outskirts and released the mayor.
The mayor of Slavutych, Fomichev, thanked and addressed the crowd after he was released and said that he had negotiated with the Russian army during his captivity, which had agreed to guarantee the city’s security without the Ukrainian military in the town. He added that Russian forces had instructed people to hand over weapons and said that the national police and the Ukrainian army were no longer in the city, “so we will appoint people on duty to prevent looting, chaos, and disorder.”