The disappearance and beating of the leader of the AutoMaidan activist movement, Dmitry Bulatov, signals an alarming increase in government attacks against civil society activists and journalists in Ukraine.
Dmitry Bulatov was apparently abducted on January 22 and abused by unidentified captors until being released January 30. Dozens of other activists and journalists have been attacked in recent weeks by government or unidentified forces believed to be acting on behalf of the government. Several of those beaten have died.
“The beatings, disappearances, and killings of activists and journalists will leave an indelible stain on the record of President Viktor Yanukovych,” said David J. Kramer, president of Freedom House. “The government’s fingerprints are all over these cases of abuse. When a government disappears and tortures its own people, it has lost all moral authority.”
Bulatov said he was “crucified,” cut, and beaten by his captors, and later left in a forest outside of Kyiv. Bulatov disappeared after another activist involved in the Euromaidan movement, Yuriy Verbytskyy, was found dead in a forest with signs that he had been kidnapped.