Missing and presumed dead, Dmytro Bulatov, the leader of AutoMaidan has been found alive more than a week after he stopped answering his mobile phone and vanished without a trace.
News website TSN reported Bulatov as saying he had been beaten and tortured and had his ear cut off by men with Russian accents before being dumped in the countryside near Boryspil, a Kyiv suburb. He was found in a village house after someone opened the door on which he was pounding, Channel 5 reported.
Batkivshchyna lawmaker Yuri Stets first posted on his Facebook page at 8:30 p.m. that the 35-year-old activist was found, but provided few details, including whether he was alive. Then 1+1 TV journalist Olha Kosholenko at 10 p.m. posted a picture of Bulatov on her Facebook page, showing his face scarred and badly beaten, and clothed in blood-soiled attire.
Businessman and politician Petro Poroshenko (R) visit AutoMaidan leader Dmytro Bulatov at Boris hospital on Jan. 30.
He is reportedly receiving medical treatment in a private medical clinic in Kyiv.
Communication broke off with Bulatov late on Jan. 22 on the eve when more than 15 activists of AutoMaidan, a roving protest-on-wheels, were ambushed in Kyiv, beaten and detained by law enforcement personnel reportedly accompanied by hired thugs.
Police have provided no information about the conduct of their search for Bulatov after his wife filed a missing person report on Jan. 23. This led to suspicions of foul play, as was the case with EuroMaidan activist Yuri Verbytsky of Lviv who was kidnapped from a hospital on Jan. 21 and found dead in a forest outside Kyiv the next day.
The convoy of vehicles that Bulatov marshaled became a thorn on the side of authorities. Initially the group started to visit the residences of Ukraine’s leaders deemed responsible for violence against EuroMaidan protesters, including President Viktor Yanukovych’s lavish residence. The group then started patrolling Kyiv’s streets to defend the outer perimeter of the area of Independence Square from paid-for-thugs and other infiltrators. They also help supply EuroMaidan with fuel and produce.
On Jan. 16, parliament passed a set of laws that appeared specifically designed to punish the AutoMaidan activists. It forbade convoys of vehicles that numbered five or more, and criminalized the blocking of residences with prison sentences up to six years.