Two EuroMaidan activists missing; foul play suspected

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Prominent EuroMaidan activists Ihor Lutsenko and Yuriy Verbytsky were abducted by five unknown men at 4 a.m. on Jan. 21 from Oleksandrivska Hospital in Kyiv, another civic activist, Mariya Lebedeva, alleged today.

However, Kyiv police dispute the allegation, saying that the two men were seen exiting the hospital on their own.

Lebedeva said Lutsenko, 35, who wasn’t acquainted with Verbytsky, drove him to the hospital to get treated for injuries suffered in clashes with police on Hrushevskoho Street.

When Verbytsky, 51, was accepted to the ophthalmology department at the clinic, Lutsenko was kidnapped while waiting in the hallway. Soon after, Verbytsky was carried off, she said.

“The doctors heard some noise in the hall, and then suddenly around five young men similarly dressed in black hats and coats burst into the doctor’s room and captured Verbytsky. Lutsenko was abducted a minute before Verbytsky,” Lebedeva said.

Earlier today, Lebedeva with a lawyer filed a criminal police report on the reported kidnapping.

According to her, the last known communication from Lutsenko was a post he published on AutoMaidan’s internet page at nearly 4 a.m. Lutsenko wrote in his message that less than 10 young men were roaming the hospital and looking for somebody. “He asked people for help, to come to the hospital, but unfortunately we were late, Lutsenko was kidnapped,” Lebedeva said.

She said the suspects are not known.

When the Kyiv Post dialed Lutsenko’s number, an automated message from his mobile provider said that the “subscriber cannot be reached at the moment.” An e-mailed message to Lutsenko went unanswered.

“We do not know Lutsenko’s whereabouts,” EuroMaidan’s commandant and an opposition lawmaker Stepan Kubiv told the Kyiv Post. “Lutsenko is a member of Maidan’s civil council. According to the laws adopted on Jan. 16 (and which came into force on Jan. 21), everyone can be arrested and accused of inciting a riot.”

Known for a being an activist of many causes that have included landmark preservation campaigns, Lutsenko looked unhealthy that night, Lebedeva says. The doctors wanted to examine him, but did not have time to do that.

Verbytsky had serious eye injuries.

“I just talked to the doctor that examined Verbytsky,” Yuriy Herasymenko, a public activist, wrote on his Facebook page this morning.  “It was an elderly lady with her eyes full of tears.”

Herasymenko said that the doctor had barely finished writing referrals for Verbytsky to undergo emergency surgery when five men stormed her room and took him away. The doctor called the police. The police arrived quickly and took Verbytsky’s and Litsenko’s belongings and documents that the two men left behind.

“This (crime) is definitely the police’s handwriting,” Herasymenko added in his Facebook comment.

Kyiv police spokesperson Oleksandr Radkevych told the Kyiv Post that Lutsenko was not detained by police. Lutsenko’s wife filed a missing person’s report with the police and investigators said they are searching for him.

“Police checked the hospital. According to witnesses, Lutsenko and Verbytsky left the hospital territory independently as several men accompanied them. No illegal acts were applied against Verbytsky and Lusenko,” Radkevych added.

Lutsenko has never been arrested or detained, Lebedeva said.

In the afternoon, after appearing on online Hromadske TV, pro-presidential Party of Regions lawmaker Volodymyr Oliynyk promised to talk to the deputy interior minister and deputy head of the state security service concerning Lutsenko’s location, the Facebook page of EuroMaidan states. Oliynyk also plans to make two parliamentary inquiries about Lutsenko’s case.

Meanwhile many people have reposted Lutsenko’s photo on their Facebook pages and urged the public to share information about his whereabouts.

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