Russia kidnaps 2nd official from Ukraine nuclear plant
By Matthew Mpoke Bigg
Russia has kidnapped another senior official at the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, Ukraine’s state nuclear power company said Tuesday, as a continuing management battle raises the stakes at a facility where shelling has already prompted fears of a nuclear accident.
The company, Energoatom, said that Valeriy Martyniuk, a deputy director general for human resources, was taken Monday and was being held at an unknown location. The company said in a statement on the Telegram messaging app that it feared he could be forced to disclose information about Ukrainian personnel working at the plant.
Martyniuk is the second top official at the plant to be kidnapped in recent days following the abduction in late September of the director-general, Ihor Murashov. He was released days later.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin of Russia said in the wake of his widely rejected annexation of the Zaporizhzhia region that he was nationalizing and taking over operational control of the six-reactor facility. Ukraine instructed workers at the plant to continue to report to Energoatom.
Russian forces seized control of the facility in March, stationing troops and weapons there and putting pressure on the Ukrainian engineers and workers who stayed on to operate it. Several workers have been detained and interrogated, and Ukrainian authorities have said that at least one was killed.
The United Nations’ nuclear watchdog agency, the International Atomic Energy Agency, has rejected Moscow’s claim of control. It also says that one essential prerequisite of nuclear safety is stable management and the ability of staff to be able to do their jobs without undue pressure.
The agency said that its director-general, Rafael Mariano Grossi, met Putin on Tuesday as part of efforts to prevent a nuclear accident at the plant and stressed the need for a safety and security zone around the plant.
Grossi, who last week met President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine, said that the situation had become “increasingly dangerous, precarious and challenging, with frequent military attacks that can also threaten nuclear safety.”