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Published: Friday January 31, 2014 MYT 5:05:02 PM
Updated: Friday January 31, 2014 MYT 5:05:55 PM

Beaten Ukrainian activist appears on TV, says was "crucified"

KIEV (Reuters) - A Ukrainian anti-government activist who disappeared a week ago appeared on television on Friday, his face badly beaten and with wounds to his hands, saying he was kidnapped and tortured by his abductors who had "crucified" him.

Dmytro Bulatov, 35, who was one of the leaders of anti-government protest motorcades called 'Automaidan', was taken to hospital after he appeared on Ukrainian TV 5th channel.

"They crucified me. They punctured my hands," he said, pointing to marks on the backs of his hands.

"They cut off my ear, slashed my face. There's not a single alive spot on my body. But I am alive, thank God," he said.

Bulatov was reported missing on January 23. He was involved in several motorcade protests in which scores of cars would drive to the homes of Ukrainian leaders.

In the biggest such protest, about 2,000 cars drove to the country residence of President Viktor Yanukovich at Mezhyhirya, outside Kiev, on December 29. They came within 300 metres of his residence before being stopped by security roadblocks.

Traffic police have begun to try to identify participants in the 'automaidan' protests and protest groups say that about 20 people so far have been detained for questioning.

Opposition leader Vitaly Klitschko, who visited Bulatov in hospital, said: "What was done to Dmytro was an act to frighten all citizens who are being active now."

A friend of Bulatov's said: "We know that they (his abductors) did not feed him. We know that they abandoned him in a wood and we know he managed then to get to a village.

"He was able to call friends," said Yuri Zozulya.

Yanukovich, 63, went on sick leave on Thursday, leaving a political vacuum in a country threatened with bankruptcy and destablised by anti-government protests.

The protests began after Yanukovich rejected an EU trade deal in favour of closer ties with and a financial bailout from Russia.

(Reporting by Pavel Polityuk; Writing By Richard Balmforth; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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