Ukraine activist Dmytro Bulatov 'kidnapped, tortured and left to die'

He led AutoMaidan protest movement that organised motorcades outside the houses of politicians and oligarchs

A prominent Ukrainian opposition activist who vanished eight days ago has claimed he was kidnapped, tortured and left to die in the suburbs of the capital Kiev.

Dmytro Bulatov, leader of the AutoMaidan protest movement which organised motorcades outside the houses of politicians and oligarchs, was found locked in a house in the Kiev suburb of Boryspil, according to local TV station Channel 5. Villagers reportedly heard him pounding on the door.

Wearing blood-stained clothes and exhibiting cuts and bruises to his face, ears and hands, the 35 year-old activist gave a brief interview to media before being admitted to a Kiev clinic for medical treatment.

"My whole body is a mess. You can see everything. I am alive. Thank God for this," he told reporters.

Mr Bulatov disappeared on 22 January when the AutoMaidan motorcade he was travelling with was ambushed. Activists at the anti-government protest said they were beaten by police and hired thugs. He said those who held him had Russian accents, but does not know who they were.

More than five people have died and hundreds have been injured in clashes between authorities and anti-government protesters over the past two weeks. There have been dozens of cases of police brutality, according to Human Rights Watch.

The EU's foreign affairs chief Catherine Ashton issued a strong statement today condemning the treatment Mr Bulatov received at the hands of his captors.

"I am appalled by the obvious signs of prolonged torture and cruel treatment of Auto-Maidan organiser Dmytro Bulatov, who was found alive yesterday after having been missing for a week," the statement read.

"Others, like Maidan protester Yuriy Verbytskyy who was found dead on 22 January, have paid with their lives for exercising their civil rights… All such acts are unacceptable and must immediately be stopped," she added.

Ms Ashton also called for "all unlawfully detained people have to be released and perpetrators brought to justice."

Police in Kiev have confirmed Mr Bulatov was bruised and received a cut to one of his ears, according to Ukrainian newspaper Ukrainskaya Pravda. They have opened an investigation and posted guards at the hospital where he is being treated.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych, above, accepted Mykola Azarov's resignation The army has called on President Viktor Yanukovych to take 'urgent steps' to ease the political crisis (Getty Images) Meanwhile, the army has called on President Viktor Yanukovych to take "urgent steps" to ease the political crisis. Mr Yanukovych's office released a statement on Thursday saying he was off sick with acute respiratory illness, casting doubt over how negotiations to end the standoff with the opposition will proceed.

Demonstrators took to the streets of Kiev in their tens of thousands in November in response to the government's decision to spurn a political and trade deal with the EU in favour of a £9bn bailout and cheaper gas prices from Russia, to keep Ukraine's struggling economy afloat.

The protests have since evolved into an anti-government movement calling for snap elections and Mr Yanukovych's resignation.

Targets of AutoMaidan's motorcade protests are reported to have included one of Mr Yanukovych's residences, and the Donetsk home of Ukraine's richest man, Rinat Akhmetov, when activists called on him to speak up against the bloodshed.

On Saturday, Mr Akhmetov Akhmetov issued a strong statement warning that the use of force against protesters was unacceptable.

"The only way out is to move from street confrontation to negotiations," he said, in a statement released by his holding company System Capital Management (SCM).

Protesters in Kiev demanded that President Yanukovych calls new elections (EPA) Protesters in Kiev demanded that President Yanukovych calls new elections (EPA) Following violent clashes between protesters and police, Ukraine's government this week made several concessions to the opposition. The Prime Minister Mykola Azarov and his cabinet resigned, and parliament voted overwhelmingly to repeal harsh anti-protest laws passed this month to curb the demonstrations. Many have blamed a combination of these laws and cases of police brutality for radicalising the previously peaceful protests.

Despite the concessions, a sprawling opposition camp in Kiev's city centre remains in situ, and protesters continue to occupy some government ministries.

A further move - an amnesty for protesters - was debated in parliament, but rejected by opposition parties after a number of conditions were placed on the bill.

"They have set a number of conditions, and the key condition under the draft bill is to let the Maidan go and only afterwards all protesters will get an amnesty," leader of Ukraine's main opposition bloc Arseniy Yatsenyuk said. "This is unacceptable for us."

Speaking at the opening of the parliament session on Wednesday, former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk warned that: "All the world acknowledges and Ukraine acknowledges that the state is on the brink of civil war."

In an emotional speech that was given a standing ovation, he said: "It is a revolution. It is a dramatic situation in which we must act with the greatest responsibility."

In Brussels on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the bailout funds remain on the table, and urged EU officials not to interfere in events in Kiev.

However, some analysts say Russia is likely to use its political, historical and financial sway over the post-Soviet country to urge President Yanukovych to take a tougher approach to solving the political crisis on its doorstep.

The EU has blamed a cocktail of blackmail and bribery from Moscow for President Yanukovych's decision to pull out of the pact in November.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot