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Kherson mayor’s son calls on Zelensky to help free father from Russian captivity

by Kateryna Denisova January 12, 2024 6:17 PM 2 min read
Mayor of Kherson Ihor Kolyhaev. (Facebook/ Ihor Kolyhaev)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Sviatoslav Kolyhaiev has called on President Volodymyr Zelensky to help free his father, Ihor Kolyhaiev, the mayor of Kherson who was kidnapped by Russian forces 18 months ago while the city was under occupation.

Russia has kidnapped 132 Ukrainian officials since Feb. 24 2022, most of them in Kherson Oblast, according to Ukraine's Zmina human rights center. In total, around 28,000 Ukrainian civilians are currently in Russian captivity, Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said in December 2023.

Kolyhaiev’s son said in a post on Instagram that he has already sent "more than one hundred appeals to all state human rights structures,” relevant organizations, and the Ukrainian Presidential Office, has made requests to the UN Human Rights Council, and written letters to ambassadors of other countries.

He said that all the responses he received expressed “only concern” while there was no response from Zelensky's office about progress made toward his father's release.

"Please understand me as a son. Remember that you also have children. I am asking for your help, Mr. President. Please take this situation under your personal control. Human life is at stake," Kolyhaiev said, urging Zelensky not to “stay silent.”

He believes his father's return home could be “a driving force” in exchange for the rest of the civilians held captive by Russia.

“I am ready to conduct any dialogues in any format, as long as my father returns home alive,” he noted.

Ihor Kolyhaiev stayed in Kherson despite the Russian occupation of the city in March 2022 and was abducted later in June of that year before its liberation. His advisor Halyna Liashevska linked his abduction to the mayor’s refusal to collaborate with the Russian-installed occupation authorities.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) officially confirmed Kolyhaiev’s prisoner of war (POW) status in September 2023.

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