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Ukraine

Bulatov visits Berlin, vows more protest in Ukraine

Ukrainian activist Dmytro Bulatov, visiting Berlin, has reiterated an opposition call that President Viktor Yanukovych quit. Bulatov said his own disappearance in January was carried out by "professional" torturers.

Fresh from medical care in Lithuania, Ukrainian dissident Dmytro Bulatov told media at a press conference at Berlin's former Checkpoint Charlie (pictured in background photo) on Saturday that he would rejoin protests in Ukraine and would not seek asylum.

The 35-year-old, whose movement Auto-Maidan mounted vehicle protests outside the villas of Ukrainian government and business figures, said he was abducted on January 22 by captors who "spoke Russian, with Russian accents."

He resurfaced a week later, badly bruised and with part of his right ear cut off.

The father of three said those who beat him had leveled the accusation that his movement was influenced and funded by the United States.

"Even though my eyes were covered I knew they were professionals," he added.

Accuses Medvedchuk

Bulatov said the homes picketed by Auto-Maidan included that of pro-Russian business figure Viktor Medvedchuk.

"I assume this was done on the orders of Medvedchuk," Bulatov said about his kidnapping. "That's only a suspicion."

Bulatov said his family was "in safety" and that he would visit various European nations, without seeking asylum, before rejoining protesters.

"I want to go back to Ukraine," he told reporters. "We will continue to resist and to protest."

"We are a civilian movement," he said, adding that its aim was to end what he called autocracy and blood-letting in Ukraine.

Ready to vacate city hall

In Kyiv on Saturday, the nationalist Svoboda [Freedom] deputy leader Yuriy Syrotyuk said his party stood "ready" to vacate the city hall, which it has used as a headquarters for two months.

Its evacuation was one of the conditions set before authorities announced on Friday that they had freed 234 detained members of the protest movement.

Another opposition leader, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, said protestors would remain on Kyiv's occupied Independence Square and in other buildings.

Areas to be evacuated to allow traffic to flow better include part of Gruchevsky Street, where deadly riots took place in late January.

Another mass demonstration – the 11th since unrest began in December – is due Sunday.

Some parts support Yanukovych

Protests erupted in November after President Yanukovych abandoned a long-anticipated political and economic treaty with the European Union and sought a bailout loan from Russia.

Yanukovych still remains popular in the Russian-speaking east and south of the country, where cultural and economic ties with Russia are strong.

ipj/tj (APF, dpa, AP)

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