Ivan Fedorov, mayor of the Russian-occupied city of Melitopol, has posted video of damage to a building allegedly used by Russian-backed officials in the region.
“Tonight, the headquarters of the occupiers in the village of Pryazovske was blown up,” Fedorov said on Telegram. “It was there that the Russians prepared for the ‘voting’ and issued Russian passports.”
Fedorov was referring to a referendum being planned by Russian-backed authorities in the region on whether it should join the Russian Federation.
“There is neither a clear date nor a plan for holding a pseudo-referendum in the occupied territory of Zaporizhzhia region,” he said in a press briefing.
“The concept of the Russians now is to hold a referendum during a period of five days in the format of a survey (by visiting apartments and houses),” said Fedorov. “In the next two weeks, the Russians are simply unable to hold a referendum.”
Fedorov, who is not in the city, also claimed that very few people had taken up the offer of Russian passports.
“We do not have an exact number of how many people received Russian passports … I think it is about 1,000 people at most,” he said.
On the day of the start of the new school year, Fedorov said the Russians had tried to open four out of 22 schools in the area and had brought in Russian teachers.
They were threatening heavy fines for parents whose children were absent from school, he said.
Pressure on the remaining population in Melitopol was growing, added Fedorov. He estimated some 60,000 – 70,000 people are still living in the city, half the pre-war population.
“The Russians begin a total cleansing, filtering in every house, every apartment,” he said. “If a person is found with at least something Ukrainian (flag, embroidery), they are immediately arrested.”
Four people have been transferred to a high security detention center in Moscow, claimed Fedorov. CNN cannot verify the allegation.
“Up to 80 people are held captive by the Russians,” he claimed.