Ukraine protester’s injuries just ‘a scratch’: minister
Ukrainian Foreign Minister Leonid Kozhara on Saturday dismissed the injuries sustained by a protester found covered in blood as "a scratch", as the man recovered in hospital in intensive care.
“Physically this man is in a good condition. The only thing he has is a scratch on one of his cheeks,” Kozhara told Al-Jazeera television on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference.
“It looks like the alleged story that he was kidnapped and tortured is not absolutely true,” he said, adding: “The investigation is going on.”
The foreign ministry later issued a statement saying that Kozhara had been misunderstood.
The comments “do not reflect the real attitude of Minister Kozhara on this tragic situation”, it said.
“The minister is profoundly sorry for what happened to Dmytro Bulatov and wishes him a speedy recovery.”
Bulatov, 35, said he was kidnapped by unidentified captors with Russian accents on January 22 during clashes in Kiev and released in a forest on January 30 after being tortured.
He said his kidnappers cut off his ear and drove nails through his hands. In television images he was seen covered in blood and appeared to have been badly beaten.
Bulatov’s case has been raised by European and US officials at the Munich Security Conference.
Bulatov’s lawyer, Ruslan Radetskiy, told AFP that doctors operated on his client on Friday.
“He had an operation to sew up the wounds on his body. The operation was carried out yesterday. He is still in intensive care,” Radetskiy said.
The interior ministry has accused Bulatov of organising mass unrest and has ordered him to be put under house arrest once he is out of hospital.
The ministry also said it was possible that Bulatov had “staged” his kidnapping and torture “to provoke a negative reaction in society”.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Saturday after talks with Kozhara in Munich that Germany was ready to host Bulatov to receive further medical care if the opposition activist wanted.