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Zaporizhzhia NPP staff forced to sign contracts with Russians under torture, Ukrainian Energoatom claims

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The Ukrainian Energoatom's Telegram channel reports that in Energodar, a town built around the temporarily occupied Zaporizhzhia NPP, there has been a notable escalation in the Russian military's efforts to locate Ukrainian nuclear staff who have refrained from signing labor contracts with Zaporizhzhia NPP Operator JSC or any other Rosatom company for over a year. The Kremlin maintains control over the plant by registering it to a legal entity established specifically for that purpose.

According to Energoatom, the military has allegedly subjected staff members to torture, including physical assault, in order to coerce them into cooperating with the aggressor.

“Despite facing threats, torture, blackmail, and persistent intimidation, the Ukrainian personnel at ZNPP are demonstrating their integrity by refusing to cooperate,” Energoatom claims.

At the onset of the war, the Russian military occupied ZNPP, and since then, Rosatom employees have been present at the facility. Throughout this period, Ukrainian personnel have been responsible for ensuring the operation of the plant.

In September 2022, The Insider reported on incidents of torture occurring at ZNPP. Russian security forces had already engaged in the abduction, torture, and killing of both Zaporizhzhia NPP employees and residents of Energodar. According to a source interviewed by The Insider, plant employees were prohibited from bringing camera phones to work and subjected to regular searches and interrogations. The personnel were coerced into accepting Russian citizenship, forcibly taken to undisclosed locations, and confined in basements for extended periods of 2-3 weeks. They were subjected to intimidation, and some were brought to the Mayor's Office building for interrogations. Detention cells, measuring 3 by 4 meters, accommodated 12 to 16 individuals each. At that time, at least two known locations of such “torture” were the fire station and the police building.

On September 30, the Russian military seized Igor Murashov, the general director of the station, and transported him to an undisclosed location. Murashov's vehicle was intercepted along the road from ZNPP to Energodar, and he was subsequently taken away against his will while blindfolded. However, on October 3, he was released and returned home. In October 2022, the BBC's Russian Service reported that Ukrainian employees of Zaporizhzhia NPP were also subjected to threats, including the possibility of being conscripted to fight on the Russian side if they refused to sign documents to work for Rosatom.

Andrey Goncharuk, a diver at Zaporizhzhia NPP, died in the summer of 2022. Energoatom reported that he had been subjected to torture by the Russian military, “compelling him to provide a rationale for draining the cooling pools.”

According to Energoatom, as of December 2022, more than 200 people had been kidnapped: some of them were expelled to Ukrainian territory, others are being ransomed, and the fate of many of them remains unknown.

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