In Melitopol, armed invaders abducted a pastor during prayer
Valentyn Zhuravlyov's friends informed the Center for Investigative Journalism about the abduction on June 19.
Joint divine services between the priests of different faiths have been held in Melitopol since the beginning of the occupation. People go to the city's main square and pray for peace for Ukraine and Melitopol.
During the prayer, which took place on Victory Square on Saturday, June 18, the faithful were approached by armed Russian soldiers.
"They asked who was in charge here. People pointed to the pastor. Then they took him away," says a resident of Melitopol.
According to citizens, there were no aggressive actions or calls during the service.
Pastor Valentin Zhuravlyov is a member of the Interfaith Committee of Christian Churches of Melitopol, in social life, he conducts a veterinary practice and is the owner of the veterinary clinic "Aibolit".
In Melitopol, after the occupation, clergy of Protestant religious organizations were already abducted. In March, Russian invaders held captive Dmyrro Bodya, a pastor of the Word of Life Evangelical Church, for over a week. The pastor of the New Generation Church, Viktor Sergeev, had to leave the city in a hurry because of the threat of abduction.
In addition, according to the Defense headquarters of the Zaporizhia region, on June 18, the chairman of the Church of Christians-Baptists of Vasylivka, Mykola Zholovan, was abducted.
According to the Regional Military Administration of Zaporizhia, as of June 17, 2022, the invaders have held 347 civilians in captivity. Of these, 206 were released, and 141 continue to be illegally held in places of detention.
IPC-Kherson created the interactive map of kidnappings, showing the Russian occupiers abducting civil Ukrainians – officials, deputies of all levels, entrepreneurs, public activists and journalists in the temporarily occupied territories of the Zaporizhia region.