Head of Ukraine's Zaporizhzhia nuclear plant detained by Russian patrol

The UN nuclear watchdog said that Russia had confirmed the detention of Ihor Murashov, the director general of Ukraine's Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant.

The head of state-owned Energoatom, Petro Kotin, said in a statement that Ihor Murashov, the director general, was detained on his way from the nuclear plant, to the town of Enerhodar at around 4 p.m. (1300 GMT) on Friday.

He was taken out of the car, and with his eyes blindfolded he was driven in an unknown direction,” Kotin wrote on the Telegram messaging app, adding there was no immediate word on Murashov's fate.

Kotin said he had appealed to the chief of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Rafael Grossi, to take “all possible immediate actions to urgently free” Murashov.

The IAEA contacted Russian authorities and was later given confirmation on Saturday that Murashov was being held for questioning.

“The IAEA sought clarification from the Russian authorities and has been informed that the director-general of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant was temporarily detained to answer questions,” a spokesperson said without elaborating.

The Zaporizhzhia plant, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, has been a focal point of Russia's seven-month invasion of Ukraine, as Moscow and Kyiv accuse each other of shelling the facility, risking a nuclear disaster.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has called for the area around the plant, which is still staffed by Ukrainians, to be demilitarized.

Murashov bears main and exclusive responsibility for the nuclear and radiation safety of the plant and the head of Energoatom said that his detention “jeopardizes the safety of operation of Ukraine and Europe’s largest nuclear power plant”.

Kotin called on Russian forces to “stop immediately the acts of nuclear terrorism towards the management and personnel” of the plant and release Murashov.