Yanukovych under military pressure

Ukraine’s military urged “urgent steps” from president Viktor Yanukovych to ease turmoil in the country, weighing in for the first time on the ex-Soviet nation’s worst crisis since independence.

The army’s call on the embattled leader, who on Thursday took indefinite sick leave, came as protesters refused to leave occupied municipal buildings in Kiev and as the West prepared to receive opposition leaders over the weekend.

It came as a prominent opposition activist who went missing more than a week ago reappeared, saying he had been tortured by unidentified assailants.

Dmytro Bulatov, who reappeared on Thursday night, said he was tortured by abductors who cut off his ear and drove nails through his hands before dumping him in a forest.

“They crucified me, nailed me, cut my ear off, cut my face,” said Bulatov, his face swollen and covered in caked blood. “Thank God I am alive.”

The Ukrainian army previously said it would not interfere in the protests, which erupted in November after Yanukovych scrapped an integration deal with the EU in favour of closer ties with Kiev’s historical master Moscow.

Opposition leaders are today due to meet US secretary of state John Kerry.


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