IAEA chief calls for release of Ukrainian nuclear power plant chief

ZURICH, Oct 2 (Reuters) – The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog has called for the release of the chief executive of Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant, saying his detention poses a threat to safety and security.

A Russian patrol arrested Ihor Murashov on Friday, the state-owned company in charge of the plant said on Saturday, and the International Atomic Energy Agency said Russia had confirmed the decision.

“IAEA Director General Rafael Grossi expressed hope that Mr. Murashov will return to his family safely and quickly and be able to resume his important duties at the plant,” the agency tweeted on Saturday evening.

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The IAEA has been in contact with the relevant authorities to seek clarification on his temporary detention, which it says had a “very significant impact” on him and on nuclear safety and security standards.

Grossi is expected to hold talks in Moscow and Kyiv next week on creating a protection zone around the Zaporizhzhia plant, the watchdog said on Saturday. Read more

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Sunday Grossi assured him in a phone call that the IAEA would spare “no effort to secure the release of the ZNPP director kidnapped by Russia.”

Kuleba also said that Ukraine is ready to facilitate the rotation of IAEA experts at the Zaporizhzhia station. Several IAEA experts have been working at the plant since early September. Read more

“I stressed that Russia must withdraw its troops and military equipment from the station,” Kuleba said on Twitter.

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Reporting by Michael Shields; additional reporting by Pavel Polityuk in Kyiv; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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