LVIV, Ukraine -Russian forces have taken control of Ukraine’s Slavutych, where workers at the defunct Chernobyl nuclear plant live, the governor of Kyiv region said on Saturday.
In an online post, Governor Oleksandr Pavlyuk did not describe how the town had been taken, but said some residents had unfurled a large Ukrainian flag and shouted “Glory to Ukraine” in protest.
He also said the Russians fired into the air to disperse the pro-Ukraine protest in the centre of the town and had thrown stun grenades into the crowd.
There was no immediate comment from Russia about Slavutych.
Slavutych sits just outside a safety exclusion zone around Chernobyl – the site of the world’s worst nuclear disaster in 1986 – where Ukrainian staff have continued to work even after the territory was occupied by Russian forces soon after the start of the Feb. 24 invasion.
Presidential adviser Oleksiy Arestovych said the town had become a new hotspot of the war. “The inhabitants are carrying out heroic civil resistance to the invader,” he said in a televised address, referring to Saturday’s protest.
On Friday, Ukraine said Russian troops had drawn close to the town, which had a pre-war population of around 25,000, and had launched an unsuccessful first attack.
Since then, “the Russian occupiers have invaded the town of Slavutych and seized the city hospital,” Governor Pavlyuk said.
In an online post, the city council asked residents, to remain calm. “The occupiers’ vehicles are moving around the city to check for weapons. Please do not provoke (them) or endanger yourselves.”
Moscow calls its actions in Ukraine a “special military operation” to disarm its neighbour. Kyiv and its Western allies call it an unprovoked war of aggression.