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Ukraine activist ‘tortured’ into confessing he was U.S. spy

Ukrainian opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov arrives for a press conference in a hospital in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday , Feb. 6, 2014. Dmytro Bulatov says he was held prisoner by captors who repeatedly beat him, cut off part of his ear and accused him of spying for the United States. Bulatov, who arrived in the Lithuanian capital on Monday for treatment of his injuries, says he was abducted on Jan. 22 in central Kiev, Ukraine, by a group of men and taken to an unknown destination where he wa

VILNIUS: A Ukrainian activist who left the country after he was abducted said Thursday his Russian-speaking captors cut off part of his ear and “crucified” him to force him to say he was an American spy. “They nailed me to the wooden door, I was kneeling and after that they took sticks and started beating me,” Dmytro Bulatov told reporters in a hospital in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius, where he is receiving medical treatment.

“I told them that the American ambassador had given me $50,000,” he said. “It was so scary, it was so painful that I asked them to kill me. I lied because I could not stand the pain.”

He accused his abductors, who he believes were Russian secret service agents, of cutting off part of his ear. “They took that piece of my ear and touched my face with that part of the ear. It was very scary,” said the 35-year-old father of three who spoke slowly and complained of dizziness and blurred vision.

Bulatov arrived in Vilnius Sunday from Kiev after a court ruled he could leave the country despite criminal charges against him.

He is the leader of the “Automaidan” movement, which has organized motorcade protests outside the homes of senior government figures, including President Viktor Yanukovych’s sprawling country estate near Kiev.

He first alleged he was tortured for eight days by unknown assailants in a brief television interview last week after he reappeared in Kiev.

The testimony sent shock waves across Europe.

“When they beat me, I felt like [there was] melting metal, very, very hot metal, over my face, and I wanted everything to stop,” he said.

“They forced me to speak in front of the camera and they made me say everything they wanted; that I am an American spy ... that America gives money for the Maidan [protest] and that I was hired by Americans in order to create disorder against our government,” Bulatov added.

He said he was kidnapped in Kiev on Jan. 22 and was taken to an unknown location with a bag over his face lying on the floor of what he thought was a minivan, before being held in a room and tortured.

“I believe that those could be people from the Russian special services,” he said, adding that his assailants were clearly “professionals.”

Bulatov also said he believed that prominent Ukrainian politician and businessman Viktor Medvedchuk “had something to do with this” as this anti-Europe advocate was often the topic of the interrogations.

Following a thorough medical examination, Lithuania Tuesday said it suspected Bulatov was tortured and urged an independent probe.

Images of his bloodied face sparked international outrage, with the EU’s foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton saying she was “appalled by the obvious signs of prolonged torture.”

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 07, 2014, on page 11.

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Summary

Bulatov arrived in Vilnius Sunday from Kiev after a court ruled he could leave the country despite criminal charges against him.

He is the leader of the "Automaidan" movement, which has organized motorcade protests outside the homes of senior government figures, including President Viktor Yanukovych's sprawling country estate near Kiev.

He first alleged he was tortured for eight days by unknown assailants in a brief television interview last week after he reappeared in Kiev.

"They forced me to speak in front of the camera and they made me say everything they wanted; that I am an American spy ... that America gives money for the Maidan [protest] and that I was hired by Americans in order to create disorder against our government," Bulatov added.

He said he was kidnapped in Kiev on Jan. 22 and was taken to an unknown location with a bag over his face lying on the floor of what he thought was a minivan, before being held in a room and tortured.


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