Abducted Kiev Activist 'Crucified,' Tortured

KIEV, Ukraine -- A prominent Ukrainian antigovernment activist who went missing more than a week ago has turned up in a village near Kiev, saying that he was kidnapped and tortured by unknown men who spoke with Russian accents.

Missing activist Dmitry Bulatov turned up in a village near Kiev on January 30, saying he had been abducted and tortured.

Dmytro Bulatov, the 35-year-old spokesman for the Automaidan protest group, was reported missing on January 23 -- just after the abductions of two other opposition activists, one of whom was later found dead in a forest near Kiev showing signs of being tortured.

RFE/RL’s Ukrainian Service reports that Bulatov was taken to a Kiev hospital after turning up on the night of January 30.

He was being treated for injuries from apparent beatings and torture -- including a badly lacerated ear and puncture wounds on his hands and reportedly his feet. 

Bulatov told colleagues that his abductors had hung him up in a manner similar to a crucifixion before eventually taking him down, throwing him into a car, and dumping him in the countryside.

Bulatov, blood caked on his face and head, spoke to journalists on the night of January 30.

"I was crucified," he said.

"My hands were pierced. They cut my ear. They cut my face. There is no spot on my body that is not injured. You can see yourself. But I am alive, thank God."

Bulatov said that, after he was abandoned in freezing temperatures on the night of January 30, he managed to walk to a nearby village where he telephoned friends who took him back to Kiev.

Serhiy Poyarkov, an artist, Automaidan activist, and friend of Dmytro Bulatov, spoke early on January 31 to RFE/RL's Ukrainian Service outside the hospital in Kiev where Bulatov was admitted and provided more details of his condition.

"He [Bulatov] has no fractures, no concussion," he said.

"He was cut, severely beaten, and humiliated. He was kept without food for the last few days. [His captors] wanted to know where our funding was coming from. He was tortured for a long time. They wanted to know who is financing us. He recognized all of us. He has bruises on his shoulders. His ear and [part] of his cheek were cut. His hands and feet were nailed. He was crucified and tortured all these days."

Bulatov went missing one day after another abducted opposition sympathizer, Yuriy Verbytsky, was found dead in a forest near Kiev on January 22 with broken ribs and traces of duct tape on his hands and clothes.

Verbytsky had gone missing on January 21 together with his friend Ihor Lutsenko, an opposition journalist and a key figure in the two-month-old Euromaidan protests. 

Lutsenko resurfaced the next day with a black eye and a knocked-out front tooth -- saying that he and Verbytsky had been abducted by a gang of unknown men before being beaten and left to die in the countryside.

Bulatov's protest group, Automaidan, comprises motorists who joined together in late November to support Ukraine's European integration and to counter police assaults against pro-EU demonstrators in their standoff with President Viktor Yanukovych and his political allies.

The popularity of the 5,000-member group and the rapid-response network it has set up to rescue demonstrators from police violence have propelled Automaidan to the forefront of Kiev's ongoing protests.

Automaidan activists routinely meet with opposition leaders, address protesters on Kiev's Independence Square, and have held talks with U.S. and European envoys. 

Source: Radio Free Europe