Russia Installs New Mayor in Ukrainian City, Says Adjust to 'New Reality'

Residents in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol are being told to accept a "new reality" as Russian forces install a new mayor after the city's current mayor, Ivan Fyodorov, was kidnapped by Russian personnel.

Galina Danilchenko, who was appointed as "acting mayor," said in a video statement on Sunday to the city's 150,000 residents to end their resistance to Russian military occupation. This came after close to 2,000 people protested on Saturday against the alleged abduction of Fyodorov.

"Despite all our efforts, there are still people in the city who are trying to destabilize the situation, who are calling on you to take extremist actions," she said in her address. "I ask you to be prudent [and] not to succumb to these provocations."

ukraine city new mayor
Citizens are being told to get used to it as Russian forces install a new mayor in the Ukrainian city of Melitopol. Above, a representational image of a Ukrainian man amid the destruction of the Russian invasion. Aris Messinis/AFP via Getty Images

Prior to her installation as acting mayor, Danilchenko is a known Russian sympathizer amongst politicians in the Melitopol region. She previously served as the city council deputy for Opposition Bloc, a pro-Russian political party established in 2014 amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The reason why she was chosen over other similar figures in the region is unclear at this time.

The Ukrainian government said that Fyodorov was taken from his office in Melitopol on Friday and was dragged out by Russian soldiers with a bag over his head. Officials said they believe he is being tortured at an undisclosed location and are pleading for international help in securing his release.

Videos emerging on social media show Ukrainian citizens in other Russian-occupied regions taking to the streets in protests similar to those in Melitopol, signaling a difficulty ahead for Russia in bringing these areas to heel. On Sunday, "thousands" protested in Berdyansk.

Elsewhere, protestors in Kherson chanted that Russian forces were "fascist occupiers," with shots being fired in the air at one point, according to journalist Leonid Ragozin.

In an address on Sunday, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky accused Russia of trying to recreate "the notorious experience of the formation of pseudo-republics," which occurred in Eastern Ukraine in 2014 and lead to the creation of the breakaway region at the heart of the current conflict, Donbas. Zelensky also claimed that Russian forces are bribing and blackmailing officials in attempts to bring them onto their side to bring regions under control.

"I want to say," Zelensky said, addressing other Ukrainians about the temptation of accepting Russian promises. "If some of them were suddenly tempted by proposals from the invaders, you sign your sentence."

While the conflict in Ukraine drags on, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy R. Sherman told Fox News Sunday that there are signs indicating that Russian diplomats might be ready for "real, serious negotiations" to end the invasion. This, she claimed, is thanks in part to the historic and severe economic sanctions leveled against Russia by the international community, according to the New York Times.

Updated, 2:55 p.m., 3/13/2022: Corrected reference to Fox News Sunday.