A Ukrainian anti-government activist was found alive after disappearing nine days ago, and his organization said he’d been abducted, tortured and had an ear partially cut off before being thrown from a car.
Dmitri Bulatov, a leader of a group of vehicle owners who have protested against President Viktor Yanukovych’s government, was reported missing on Jan. 22. He resurfaced yesterday, said Katya Butko, spokeswoman for the activist group AutoMaidan, which has used cars to ferry supplies to demonstrators on Kiev’s Independence Square, known as Maidan.
“They tortured him and cut off his ear,” Butko said last night by phone, citing AutoMaidan members who picked up Bulatov from the village of Vyshenky, where he told them he’d walked after being dumped by the side of the road. “They threw him out of a car outside of Kiev.”
The opposition says seven activists have died -- three from gunshot wounds -- and a thousand have been injured in the protests trying to bring down Yanukovych’s government, while the authorities have detained at least 116 on suspicion of taking part. On Jan. 27, protest group EuroMaidan SOS published a list of 27 missing activists, including Bulatov.
Images from Hromadske TV of Bulatov in the hospital showed him in bloody clothes with a gash covering the entire left side of his face and wounds on his hands.
Billionaire and former Economy Minister Petro Poroshenko, who supports the protests, told the television channel after visiting Bulatov that “he’s in strong fighting spirits. They didn’t break his will.”
“Bulatov is in a satisfactory state,” Mykhaylo Radutskyi, the clinic’s president, told journalists today. “After examinations conducted last night and this morning, we can say that nothing threatens Bulatov’s life. He’ll need to stay in hospital for at least a week.”
Bulatov was hit on his head in a Kiev residential district and forced away in a car, the Interior Ministry said today on its website. He was taken in “an unknown direction and was seized illegally,” while his car was found parked in another district, the police said.
Yanukovych has faced calls to step down since November, when he ditched an economic integration accord with the European Union in favor of deepening ties with Russia, Ukraine’s master in the former Soviet Union.
The body of opposition activist Yuri Verbitsky was found on Jan. 22 in a forest outside of Kiev, a day after he was abducted from a hospital where he was being treated for an eye injury incurred during clashes between protesters and police, according to a report by New York-based Human Rights Watch.
Bogdan Ovcharuk, a representative of rights group Amnesty International in Ukraine, said the fact that Bulatov had been found alive meant the authorities could perform a proper investigation.
Bulatov was found in the same area where Verbitsky’s body was discovered, suggesting the attacks were carried out by the same group, Poroshenko said on Hromadske TV.