Ukrainian Women: Russians Beat and Jailed Us

Three activists say they were kidnapped in Crimea
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2014 5:00 PM CDT
Soldiers with Russian and Crimean patches and pro-Russian militia members guard outside the Belbek airbase after Russian troops took control, outside Sevastopol, Crimea, on Saturday, March 22, 2014.   (AP Photo/Andrew Lubimov)
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(Newser) – Three female Ukrainian activists drove into Crimea just before its referendum and ended up kidnapped, beaten, and tossed in the same jail, they tell the Daily Beast. They were driving into Crimea—one on her own, and two together—to spread their views when Cossacks, Russian militia, and Ukrainian "Berkut" riot police dragged them onto a road near Armyansk. "I could not believe that Berkut was beating us, humiliating us, cutting our hair off and threatening to kill us in broad daylight," said Kateryna Butko, 25. It was bad for their male friends, too, who were stripped down to their underwear and had guns fired beside their heads.

All were taken to a Russian navy base in Sevastopol, where Russian military questioned them about their activities. "I was having long political discussions with my polite interrogators," said Butko. The Russians even let her go out with Russian journalists, hoping she would speak well of Russia later, but the trio seemed unconvinced after being freed: "I would not advise any activists to go to Crimea these days," said one. Makes sense, considering that Crimea has seen more than 20 kidnappings lately, the Guardian reports, and KyivPost says kidnappings and assaults of Ukrainian activists and journalists "have become the norm" since Russia invaded.

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