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Three Israelis freed after arrest by Russian forces in occupied Ukrainian city Melitopol

The arrest was made after the daughter filmed and shared images of the Russian invasion on social media

Tatiana Kumok and her father Mikhail (Photo: Tatiana Kumok/Facebook)

Three Israeli citizens were arrested by Russian forces in Melitopol in southern Ukraine, which is currently under Russian military occupation. The detained Israelis – Tatiana Kumok and her parents Vera and Mikhail – were released after a few hours.

It was first reported that the three were kidnapped.

They had been arrested after Tatiana filmed and shared images of the Russian invasion on social media. 

Ksenia Svetlova, a Russian-speaking former Israeli Member of Knesset and prominent expert on Russia, mentioned the arrest on social media on Monday.  

“An Israeli citizen by the name of Tatiana Kumok was kidnapped with her father in the city of Melitopol by Russian occupying forces,” tweeted Svetlova. 

The dual Ukrainian-Israeli citizen Tatiana, who manages a bridal gown business in Tel Aviv, lives part-time in Ukraine and has been actively documenting the Russian assault on her native country Ukraine. While her parents are also dual citizens, they reside in Melitopol where Mikhail owns a local publishing house in the city. 

Israeli Ambassador to Ukraine Michael Brodsky confirmed the arrest and stressed that the Israeli embassy had “conveyed the correct message required for the family's release.”

Following their release, Tatiana spoke to the Israeli news outlet, Kan. 

“I’m OK, my family is OK, my mother and my father are OK,” she said. 

Tatiana told Israeli media that she and her parents were arrested for “making too much noise in the city” and protesting against the Russian invasion, which Moscow considers illegal. However, Tatiana stressed that the Russian soldiers did not hurt her or her parents and they were treated respectfully. 

While the dramatic episode ended well, Tatiana revealed that it could have ended very differently. 

“They told me if I don’t open up they will break into the house. They threw me in a car and took me to a base,” said Tatiana who was initially separated from her parents and questioned by Russian military authorities for hours. The Russian soldiers nevertheless confiscated Tatiana’s phone and demanded that she sign a form promising that she would not participate in future public protests against Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine. 

The arresting soldiers reportedly told Tatiana: “We came from Russia to Ukraine to free Ukrainians from the Nazis.” Tatiana responded, “Go on Google and look up what real Nazis are.”

Tatiana’s encounter with the Russian soldiers is only the latest example indicating that regular Russian forces have been subjected to the Putin regime’s propaganda and were lied to prior to the Russian invasion. 

Tatiana believes that the arrest was linked to her father’s influential position as an owner of a publishing company. 

“They want them to write that everything is fine, that we love the Russians,” Tatiana said

The Jewish state is home to over a million Russian-speaking Israelis who still have personal family ties to both Russia and Ukraine. While the Israeli government has maintained a neutral position in the conflict, thousands of Israelis have protested against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, denouncing the Russian President Vladimir Putin as a “fascist” and comparing him to the late Nazi-German dictator Adolf Hitler. 

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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