West ‘appalled’ by Ukraine violence as military urges action

Police seek to arrest activist who was “beaten and tortured”

Wood shields with portraits of President Viktor Yanukovych are seen on the barricade during ongoing protests in Kiev, Ukraine

Wood shields with portraits of President Viktor Yanukovych are seen on the barricade during ongoing protests in Kiev, Ukraine

Sat, Feb 1, 2014, 01:06


Members of Ukraine’s armed forces have called on President Viktor Yanukovich to take “urgent measures to stabilise the situation in the country”, as the European Union and United States said they were “appalled” by the apparent kidnapping and torture of a prominent opposition activist.

“Servicemen and employees of Ukraine’s armed forces . . . have called on the commander-in-chief to take urgent measures within the limits of existing legislation to stabilise the situation,” the defence ministry said in a statement yesterday.

The armed forces “regard as unacceptable the seizure of state offices”, the statement said, adding that “further escalation of the confrontation threatens the country’s territorial integrity.”

It was the military’s first intervention in a crisis that has brought down the government and seen so-called people’s councils take control of several major cities, as protests over Mr Yanukovich’s postponement of a historic EU pact have spiralled into demands for his removal.

Opposition groups say seven protesters have been killed in clashes with riot police, and about 1,000 people have been injured and more than 100 arrested. They also say many people are missing.

Three leading activists have allegedly been abducted in recent weeks: one was found dead and two appeared to be badly beaten.

Opposition leaders accuse Mr Yanukovich’s authorities of operating “death squads”.

Late on Thursday night, Dmytro Bulatov reappeared eight days after disappearing. He was covered in blood, and said “men with Russian accents” had dumped him in woods near Kiev after beating and slashing him and hanging him up as if to “crucify” him.

Officials said they did not discount that Mr Bulatov’s story was “dramatised” to stoke unrest.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she was “appalled by the obvious signs of prolonged torture” of Mr Bulatov. The White House also said it was “appalled” by the case. The EU and US have traded accusations with Russia that they are interfering in Ukraine.

Sergei Glazyev, an adviser to Russian president Vladimir Putin, said yesterday that Mr Yanukovich either “defends Ukrainian statehood and puts down the revolt, which is provoked and financed by external forces, or he risks losing power”.