Ukrainian-American pastor kidnapped in Ukraine, says wife

Family of Dmitry Bodyu said Russian forces took him from his home

Dmitry Bodyu is a Ukrainian American who has been kidnapped by Russian forces, his wife, Helen, said. Photo: Instagram
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Live updates: follow the latest news on Russia-Ukraine

A Ukrainian-American clergyman living in the southern Ukrainian city of Melitopol has been kidnapped by Russian forces, his family has said.

Dmitry Bodyu, 50, was last seen on March 19, when Russian troops entered his home in the Russian-controlled city and proceeded to ask for his US passport.

His son, whom The National reached by text message in Ukraine, said the soldiers “collected all of our gadgets [phones, laptops and tablets]” and then ushered Mr Bodyu into a car and took him away.

Dmitry Bodyu was forced to leave with the Russian troops, who were non-aggressive, his wife, Helen, said. Photo: Instagram

The family has not seen or heard from him since.

The soldiers returned the following day and asked for his Bible and a sleeping bag.

“I am worried,” said Esther Lily Bodyu Ogawa, Mr Bodyu’s eldest daughter. “I mean, deep inside, I believe and I want to believe that he's safe and he's going to come home. But of course, from not knowing exactly what's going on and how he is and not getting any information, that's what is, of course, building up that worry inside.”

Ms Bodyu Ogawa, who lives in the US state of Hawaii, described her father as a smart and very social person with friends all around the world.

“He helps a lot of people and so, this is why we are so shocked that it's happening to him,” Mr Bodyu Ogawa told The National.

US news media reported that Mr Bodyu immigrated to the US as a teenager from the Soviet Union and has spent much of the past three decades living and working in Ukraine, where his three children grew up.

The family cannot figure out why he was taken but believes his US citizenship may have been a factor.

This is not the first high-profile abduction in Melitopol. On March 11, the mayor of Melitopol was taken by Russian forces and subsequently released six days later in exchange for nine Russian soldiers.

The US State Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Updated: March 25, 2022, 8:21 PM
EDITOR'S PICKS
NEWSLETTERS