Reports emerged late Friday that the city was shelled by Russian troops as they entered the city, although it is unclear who had control by the next morning. Russian troops were met with resistance from city residents, who gathered outside the city hall to protest the invasion, according to Oleksandr Pavliuk, the head of the Kyiv Regional Military Administration.
“Residents of the city went to a pro-Ukrainian rally with national symbols,” he said in a Telegram post on Saturday, according to a translation. “The Russians opened fire in the air. Noise grenades are thrown at the crowd. But the residents do not diverge. On the contrary, they are becoming more.”
Slavutych, located near the Chernobyl power plant and home to many of its workers, has experienced intense fighting since Russia invaded Ukraine last month, prompting concerns of nuclear fallout. The site requires the constant monitoring of nuclear waste, and Ukrainian staff members have continued to work at the site even after Russian forces seized the area in February.
Pavliuk said the town’s mayor, Yuri Fomichev, was briefly kidnapped after Russian troops invaded late Friday but noted he was later released, and he joined the city’s protest Saturday.
“In captivity, I negotiated with the occupiers,” Fomichev told the crowd, according to a video obtained by the New York Times. “It was agreed that if it is confirmed that our military is not in the city, everything will be calm.”
More than 3.7 million people have fled Ukraine amid the Russian invasion, and at least 1,035 civilians have been killed as of Friday, according to the United Nations. Another 13 million citizens are estimated to be stranded in the country and unable to leave due to security risks.