Missing Ukrainian activist found after torture ordeal

Agence France-Presse

This is AI generated summarization, which may have errors. For context, always refer to the full article.

A leading Ukrainian opposition activist who vanished for 8 days emerged bloodied and badly beaten

IEV, Ukraine – A leading Ukrainian opposition activist who vanished for 8 days emerged bloodied and badly beaten on Friday, January 31, saying his captors cut off his ear and drove nails through his hands before dumping him in a forest.

Dmytro Bulatov, a 35-year-old member of the opposition movement involved in street protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, appeared with his face swollen and caked in blood on Ukrainian television after going missing from Kiev on January 22.

Speaking slowly and visibly shaken by his experience, Bulatov said his unknown captors blindfolded and abused him before dumping him in a forest outside the Ukrainian capital.

He was able to make his way to a nearby village on Thursday, from where he made contact with some friends.

“My hands… they crucified me, nailed me, cut my ear off, cut my face,” Bulatov told Ukraine’s Channel 5 television, still wearing his blood-soaked clothes. “Thank God I am alive.”

“I can’t see well now, because I sat in darkness the whole time,” he said, adding that he could not see his captors but that they spoke with a Russian accent.

Bulatov’s account drew immediate international condemnation, with EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule calling the incident “deplorable” and urging the Ukrainian authorities to investigate.

The United Nations’ human rights office on Friday also called on Ukraine to launch an independent probe of deaths, kidnappings and torture amid raging political unrest.

“We are appalled by the deaths reported in recent days in Kiev, which should be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated,” said Rupert Coville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

“We are also calling for an investigation into reports of kidnappings and torture,” he told reporters.

Ukraine’s UDAR (Punch) opposition party leader and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko said Bulatov was tortured “to scare those who disagree with the regime, to show that it can happen to anyone.”

“What they did with Dmytro is an attempt to frighten all citizens,” Klitschko was quoted by his party as saying.

Police questioned Bulatov’s friends and said Friday that a probe has been launched into the kidnapping.

“Unknown individuals hit him in the head with a blunt object and stuffed him into a car” on January 22, the interior ministry said. His car was found late Thursday in eastern Kiev, it added.

Bulatov was able to make contact with his friends late Thursday after wandering through the forest to the nearest village. He was later rushed to the hospital in Kiev.

“He’s alive! All of these days he was tortured, cut, crucified,” opposition MP Anatoliy Grytsenko wrote on his Facebook page after speaking with Bulatov.

Bulatov disappearance came just as the two-month protests in Ukraine escalated into deadly clashes with police.

His disappearance caused great concern because it followed other cases of apparent kidnappings of prominent activists from the opposition protests in central Kiev.

One of the activists, Yuriy Verbytsky, was found dead in a forest while another, Igor Lutsenko, survived a severe beating and was hospitalised.

Bulatov is a leading member of Avtomaidan, a loose group of drivers who have organised protest motorcades near Yanukovych’s sprawling country estate in Mezhygirya outside Kiev.

Since the first rallies on Independence Square in November, the movement was instrumental in organising the protesters.

Its members have this month come under immense pressure from the authorities and some have gone into hiding or left the country.

The protests in Ukraine erupted in November after Yanukovych scrapped an integration deal with the European Union in favour of closer ties with Kiev’s historical master Moscow. – Rappler.com

Add a comment

Sort by

There are no comments yet. Add your comment to start the conversation.

Summarize this article with AI

How does this make you feel?

Download the Rappler App!