272 Protesters Have Vanished in Ukraine

Fears persist that they may have been 'disappeared'
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 10, 2014 8:14 AM CDT
A girl looks at candles arranged in the shape of a cross, part of a memorial to those who died in clashes which took place in late February, in Kiev's Independence Square, Ukraine, March 8, 2014.   (AP Photo/David Azia)

(Newser) – Since protests started in Ukraine last December, 661 people have been reported missing—and 272 are still unaccounted for as of last week. This even after opposition members have been given the go-ahead to look for them in prisons, morgues, and hospitals. The figure comes courtesy of Euromaidan SOS, whose coordinator predicts that most of those still missing will resurface. But the New York Times reports that the fear that some, or perhaps many, of the missing could have vanished at the hands of the brutal Berkut riot police, or pro-Russian or pro-Yanukovich forces, still persists, and it cites two cases as contributing to that fear.

One opposition activist was abducted from a Kiev hospital and later found dead in a forest; a man abducted with him says their kidnappers spoke Russian and seemed like police officers. Another opposition organizer was abducted in late January, and though he turned up alive, he said he had been tortured by people he thought were members of Russia's special services. The Euromaidan SOS coordinator insists that rumors of authorities burning bodies of dozens they killed are likely false, yet he notes that bloodstains were found at some police stations where protesters were held. DNA tests are needed, he says, but "this is a huge amount of work, and there is some chance that the police will not do it."

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