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Russia occupies the staff of the city of Chernobyl, witnesses Kyiv

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Russian troops have taken control of the city, where workers at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant are staying, and briefly detained the mayor, sparking protests, Ukrainian officials said on Saturday.

“I have been released. Everything is fine, as far as I can work,” Slavutych mayor Yuri Fomichev told AFP after Ukrainian capital officials had previously announced that he had been detained.

Earlier, the military administration of the Kiev region, to which Slavutych belongs, announced that Russian troops had entered the city and occupied the city hospital.

They also said the mayor had been arrested. Residents took to the streets with the large blue-yellow flag of Ukraine and went to the hospital, the administration said. Russian troops fired into the air and shot people with stun grenades, he added.

In her account, Telegram also shared pictures in which many people gathered around the Ukrainian flag and sang: “Glory to Ukraine.”

Later on Saturday, Fomichev posted a video on Facebook stating that at least three people had died, without details of what had happened.

“We don’t know everything yet,” he added, but said civilians were among the dead.

In defense of their city, they are fighting against a greater force, he said. The Chernobyl factory was taken over by the Russian army on February 24, the same day Moscow launched the invasion of Ukraine.

About 25,000 people live in a city 160 kilometers (99 miles) north of the capital, which was built after the Chernobyl nuclear power plant accident in 1986.

The International Atomic Energy Agency said on Saturday that it was “closely monitoring the situation” after the Ukrainian nuclear regulator informed it that Russian troops had occupied the city.

The UN nuclear patrol said it was concerned about the ability of Chernobyl workers to rotate and return to their homes to rest.

“There has been no rotation of NPP employees for almost a week,” says the IAEA. The city took over after the first staff rotation at the Chernobyl factory over the weekend, because it was controlled by Russia.

About 100 Ukrainian technicians remained in daily radioactive operation for almost four weeks without rotation.

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