Much international attention has focused on a brutal attack against a Ukraine opposition figure named Dmytro Bulatov, who surfaced last week after having vanished for eight days. Part of an ear was cut off and his hands had been perforated in what he called a crucifiction. Bulatov had been a leading figure in protests that have rocked Ukraine, demanding the resignation of president Viktor Yanukovych.
But the accounts—including ours last week—got one thing partly wrong. Every piece that we have seen quotes Bulatov as having no idea who his attackers were, except that they spoke with Russian accents. The problem with that account is that it doesn’t say much; having a Russian accent could make you from almost anywhere in the former Soviet Union, including Ukraine.
But numerous Ukrainian readers have written to tell me that Bulatov identified the assailants not as Russian speaking, but Russians from Russia. Now one of the readers has passed along a local interview with Bulatov on TSN, a program on the independent Ukrainian TV channel 1+1. In it, a battered Bulatov tells an interviewer, “They were Russian. Accents were Russian.” (The account is at 00:52 of the video below. The interviewer speaks in Ukrainian and Bulatov answers in Russian).
There is no way to verify Bulatov’s story. But if he is right, he would add an apparent new dimension to the pressure that Moscow is applying on Ukraine to remain loyal to Russia and not sign an association agreement with Europe, as the opposition is demanding.
Bulatov left Ukraine over the weekend for medical treatment in Lithuania.