Growing number of disappeared in Ukraine, opposition leaders report

After almost three months of demonstrations and civil unrest in Ukraine, opposition leaders say that at least 36 activists have disappeared in a “covert campaign” against them,  The Telegraph reports.

According to the article, President Yanukovych, has chosen to weaken the opposition through abduction, torture and harassment, rather than risking a public bloodshed.

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Euromaidan in Luhansk (Ukraine) by Qypchak (Flickr)

The campaign includes, in addition to the kidnappings, harassment such as the publication of lists with contact details of opponents on the web, and vandalism where cars are being set on fire during the nights. These acts are committed by people known as “Tutuskhi” – jobless youths hired by the government to cause trouble.

The case of Dmytro Bulatov, tortured for eight days, and then abandoned in a forest, represents evidence for the opposition. Opposition leaders told to The Telegraphthat Mr Bulatov was probably kidnapped by criminals, following orders from the government authorities in order to spread fear.

The families of the missing demonstrators live with the anguish of not knowing the whereabouts of their relatives and, with fear to ask the police for help.

Last week, in an attempt to solve the crisis, President Yanukovych dismissed several members of his government, abandoned the legislation banning public protest, and offered the protesters an amnesty. However, the mass rallies in Independence Square continue, demanding the president’s own departure.

Oleksiy Grytsenko, a protest leader and the son of the ex-defence minister said to The Telegraph that a new cabinet and a new government would not change much for the protest leaders. “They know our names, they know which cars we drive, they know where we live. We are still in danger.”