1 of 4 | Petro Kotin, head of Ukraine’s energy provider Energoatom (pictured), accused Russian military forces of abducting Ihor Murashov, the director general of Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. Photo courtesy of Energoatom
Oct. 1 (UPI) -- Russian military forces have abducted the head of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, the facility's operator Energoatom alleged Saturday.
Energoatom President Petro Kotin accused the Russians of the kidnapping in a statement on the company's website.
The plant's director general, Ihor Murashov was detained by a Russian patrol on his way from the plant to the town of Energodar, the official said.
"The vehicle of the director general of the NPP was stopped, he was taken out of the car, and with his eyes blindfolded he was driven in an unknown direction. For the time being there is no information on his fate," Kotin said in the statement.
The Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant is the largest such facility in Europe.
The abduction of the plant's director "jeopardizes the safety of operation of Ukraine and Europe's largest nuclear power plant," Kotin said.
Murashov is the person ultimately responsible for radiation safety at the plant.
"I demand that the Russians staying at the ZNPP and Rosatom's personnel, who also stay illegally at the nuclear facility of Ukraine, stop immediately the acts of nuclear terrorism towards the management and personnel of the ZNPP, release the plant's director general and let him return to his responsibilities on maintaining safe operation," Kotin said in the statement.
"I appeal to Director General of the IAEA, Rafael Grossi, and [World Association of Nuclear Operators] Chairman Tom Mitchell to take all possible immediate actions to urgently free the director general of the ZNPP from the Russian captivity," he added.
The alleged abduction came a day after Grossi and the IAEA raised grave concerns over safety after landmines exploded near the nuclear facility only a few hundred feet from sensitive reactor equipment.
That marked the sixth report of landmines detonating at the plant.
The plant's last remaining active reactor was taken off the power grid in September in response to Russian shelling. It is located in one of the four regions that Russian President Vladimir Putin signed annexation treaties to illegally claim on Friday.
The Russian-controlled referendums in Ukraine have been labeled a "sham" by the United States and Western allies.
In a lengthy speech during the signing, Putin issued a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons to protect the territory.