Injured Ukraine activist to visit relatives in Germany

VILNIUS (AFP) - A Ukrainian anti-government activist whose claims of torture shocked the West has decided to visit family in Germany after receiving treatment in Lithuania, medics said Wednesday.

"Dmytro Bulatov is leaving to meet his father and grandmother in Germany," Agne Ignataviciene, spokeswoman for the Vilnius hospital where he was treated, told AFP. No departure date was given.

The 35-year-old father-of-three said last week that he was abducted on January 22 in Ukraine, "crucified" to a wooden door, had part of his ear cut off and was beaten until he was made to say he was an American spy.

He also believes his Russian-speaking captors were Russian secret service agents.

Bulatov is a leader of the "Automaidan" movement, which has organised protest motorcades outside Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych's sprawling country estate near the capital Kiev and which has been targeted by police.

He arrived in Lithuania on February 2, after a Ukrainian court allowed him to leave for free medical aid, a service the EU Baltic state offered to Ukrainians injured in the pro-EU protests sweeping the country.

Berlin officials said Monday that Bulatov had been granted a German visa, and local media reported he wanted to visit his parents living in the western city of Hagen.

"I am grateful to all Lithuanians for the care and help that I received in Vilnius. I am also thankful for the professionalism of the doctors and staff," Bulatov said in a statement on Wednesday.

Lithuania, which is also providing treatment to three other Ukrainian protesters, has urged an independent investigation into Bulatov's injuries, which it suspects are the result of torture.

A forensic medical examination requested by the foreign ministry is currently under way, ministry spokeswoman Rasa Jakilaitiene told AFP.

Lithuania played a prominent role in the EU's efforts to sign a trade and political agreement with Ukraine.

However Yanukovych rejected the agreement in November in favour of an aid deal with Russia, sparking mass civil unrest.

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