Fox News on January 31, 2014, published an AP report on police opening an investigation into the kidnapping of an opposition activist, who said he was held captive for more than a week and tortured in the latest in a string of mysterious attacks on anti-government protesters in the two-month-long political crisis. Excerpts below:
Dmytro Bulatov, 35, a member of Automaidan, a group of car owners that has taken part in the protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, went missing Jan. 22.
Bulatov was discovered outside Kiev on January 30. He said his kidnappers beat him severely, drove nails into his hands, sliced off a piece of ear and cut his face. He said he was kept in the dark all the time and could not identify the kidnappers. After more than a week of beatings, they eventually dumped him in a forest.
“They crucified me, they nailed down my hands. They cut off my ear, they cut my face. There isn’t a spot on my body that hasn’t been beaten,” Bulatov said on Channel 5 television. “Thank God, I am alive.”
Bulatov’s face and clothes were covered in clotted blood, his hands were swollen and bore the marks of nails.
Opposition leader Petro Poroshenko rushed to the hospital where Bulatov was taken.
Police said the car he was driving when he disappeared had been found.
Automaidan members had come under tremendous pressure during the protests, with their cars burnt and activists detained, harassed and threatened.
Bulatov is among three activists whose disappearances have shocked the country, especially after one of them was found dead.
European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton issued a statement saying she was “appalled by the obvious signs of prolonged torture and cruel treatment” of Bulatov. She also condemned the death of Verbitsky.
“These are but two cases of the continuous deliberate targeting of organizers and participants of peaceful protests,” Ashton said. “All such acts are unacceptable and must immediately be stopped. It is the authorities’ responsibility to take all necessary measures to address the current atmosphere of intimidation and impunity which allows for such acts to take place.
All unlawfully detained people have to be released and perpetrators brought to justice.”
Negotiations between the authorities and the opposition on finding a way out of the crisis appeared to have stalled on January 30, after Yanukovych took an unexpected sick leave and told opposition leaders that it was now up to them to make concessions.
Yanukovych’s allies in parliament also passed a bill offering to grant amnesty to protesters, but only after they vacate scores of government buildings they have seized across the country. Yanukovych signed the bill into law on January 31, but the opposition has rejected the offer, saying it amounts to Yanukovych taking demonstrators as hostages. It has insisted that protesters must be freed without any conditions.