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Injured Ukraine activist 'dreams of going home'

AFP , Monday 10 Feb 2014
Ukraine
Ukrainian opposition activist Dmytro Bulatov is seen in a hospital after a press conference in Vilnius, Lithuania, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014(Photo: AP)
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A Ukrainian anti-government activist whose account of torture has shocked the West said Monday he was dreaming of returning home, but has not yet decided to leave Lithuania where he is undergoing treatment.

Dmytro Bulatov said he wanted to visit relatives in Germany but was still considering his options following a meeting with Lithuania's president.

"I dream of returning to Ukraine at the earliest opportunity but everything will depend on the situation there," Bulatov said in a statement to AFP.

"I want to take a month to consider all my options about the future. I haven't decided anything yet," he said in comments released by a spokeswoman for the Vilnius hospital where he has been staying.

Berlin officials said Monday the 35-year-old father-of-three had been granted a German visa, after local media reported he wants to move to the country.

But Bulatov said he only promised his grandmother he would visit her in a telephone call Monday.

"This morning my grandmother called me crying from Germany. I told her that I would visit her as soon as I can," he said.

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.

The activist says he was subject to eight days of torture by unknown Russian-speaking captors who abducted him on January 22 in Kiev.

He claims the men, who he believes were Russian secret service agents, cut off part of his ear and drove nails through his hands to force him to say he was an American spy.

He arrived in Lithuania on February 3 after a Kiev court ruled he could leave Ukraine for medical treatment.

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said the European Union "stands ready to help in every possible way the Ukrainian government and opposition to agree and resolve the current situation".

The turmoil in Ukraine began when Yanukovych in November ditched a key partnership deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Russia, stunning pro-Western parts of the population who rose up in protest.

Lithuania played a prominent role in the EU's efforts to sign the deal with Ukraine.

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