One of the leading protestors in Ukraine, Dmytro Bulatov, the head of AutoMaidan, went missing for eight days. Now, according to BBC, he’s re-emerged saying — with injuries to corroborate — that he was kidnapped, beaten, and tortured. His group, the AutoMaidan, had driven as a patrol around the protest square to keep police out, as well as outside politicians homes, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych included, to protest. After he was discovered abandoned near the capital, he was taken to the hospital where he is now being treated.
Days ago, Vitali Klitschko, the head of another opposition group, the Ukrainian Democratic Alliance (or, UDAR) spoke to ask that the Prosecutor General release information on the investigation into his disappearance, saying that, “Today there is no doubt that authorities are involved in his disappearance. Dymytro was among the first who challenged the government.” Now the UDAR leader claims that, “What they did to Dmytro is an act of intimidation of all active citizens.”
The protests, that have so far led to the death of three protestors and three law enforcement officers, began following Ukrainian government’s decision to sacrifice a trade deal with the European Union in November so as to retain the economic relationship with Russia. It was also sparked by anti-democratic measures that were passed through Ukraine’s parliament, limiting citizen’s freedoms of speech, protest, assembly, and other key rights.
Recently, despite taking temporary sick leave for what his administration says is a respiratory illness and fever, President Yanukovych signed an amnesty bill Friday, according to BBC, which will let protestors off on the condition that they vacate government buildings that they’ve taken over. While the granted amnesty is seen as a big allowance from the President, many on the side of the opposition have made it clear that they won’t be leaving until the President himself steps down and allows for free elections.
Bulatov was spoken to by BBC‘s Duncan Crawford. Bulatov told him he was left to die, and that he had been “crucified” and hung up by his wrists. “They crucified me, so there are holes in my hands now. Other than that — they cut off my ear, cut up my face. My whole body is a mess. You can see everything. I am alive. Thank God for this,” Bulatov reportedly said. He noted that while he did not know the identity of his captors, and had been blindfolded, they did have a Russian accent.
Amnesty International spoke Friday on Bulatov’s abduction, saying that it was a “barbaric act” that demanded immediate investigation. “Dmitrii’s horrific story is not unique amongst Euromaydan protestors. A number of similar cases have been reported including the case of Yury Verbytsky who, sadly, did not survive his ordeal,” said John Dalhuisen, the director of the Europe and Central Asia Programme at AI in a statement. “It is very hard to see a way out of the current crisis when such horrific abuses against protest organizers are taking place. The authorities must send a strong message to the perpetrators of these appalling acts of violence that there will be no impunity and that they will be held accountable,” said Dalhuisen.