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Ukraine: Activist abducted, tortured and ‘crucified’

    Activist Dmitrii Bulatov was involved in organizing the ongoing anti-government protests© Olha Koshelenko
    Activist Dmitrii Bulatov was involved in organizing the ongoing anti-government protests© Olha Koshelenko
    January 31, 2014
    The abduction and torture of Ukrainian opposition activist Dmitrii Bulatov is a barbaric act which must be investigated immediately, Amnesty International said today.

    “The Ukrainian authorities must immediately open an investigation into Dmitrii Bulatov's case and bring to justice those who have committed this barbaric act against a prominent protest organiser,” said John Dalhuisen, Europe and Central Asia Programme Director at Amnesty International.

    “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.

    “It is very hard to see a way out 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. “

    Background

    Dmitrii Bulatov disappeared on the evening of 22 January. He is one of the main organizers and participants of the Automaydan rallies, where convoys of cars join the Euromaydan demonstrations which have been ongoing in Kyiv since November 2013.

    Bulatov says he was beaten, tortured and crucified during the eight days that followed his abduction. Blindfolded for long periods of time and given very little food, he was interrogated by men with Russian accents who wanted to know who was funding his activities.

    Yesterday he was thrown from a car and left to die in freezing temperatures in a forest on the outskirts of the capital Kyiv. He is now being treated for his injuries in hospital.
    After he was thrown from a car on the evening of 30 January, he managed to walk to a nearby village to find shelter and call friends.

    Soaked in blood, his clothes stained and covered in cuts and bruises, he spoke of his ordeal, saying: "I was crucified. 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."

    Protests in Ukraine

    We are very concerned about the current human rights situation in Ukraine and we are actively documenting cases of torture and ill-treatment as well as the indiscriminate and abusive use of force by the authorities.

    Since November 2013, thousands of people have taken to the streets in protest to the government’s decision not to sign an agreement that would have given Ukraine stronger trade and political ties with the EU.

    On 26 January, the overwhelmingly peaceful demonstrations in Kiev turned violent after the government rushed through a series of new laws criminalising protests and severely limiting freedom of assembly, association and expression. On 28 January Ukraine’s parliament scrapped the new law and the Prime Minister and his cabinet resigned.

    Protestor deaths

    So far five protestors linked to the demonstrations have killed. We have also heard reports of a number of instances of police detaining protestors without informing their families, including allergations from protestors that they were abducted, beaten and driven to forests and left there by unknown men; one activist was certain they were police officers.

    On 22 January, another protestor, Yury Verbytsky was found dead in a forest outside of Kiev. Reportedly his ribs were broken and there were traces of duct tape round his head. He and a well-known journalist and activist, Igor Lutsenko, had been abducted by unidentified men on 21 January when they sought medical treatment in a local hospital.

     

    For further information, please contact: Elizabeth Berton-Hunter, Media Relations 416-363-9933 ext 332

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