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Body of Ukrainian official found dead in river

April 23 2014, 12:05

Police say that one of the two dead bodies they found in a river near Slovyansk, Donetsk Oblast, was that of Volodymyr Rybak, a local city council member in Horlivka, 65 kilometers away, who took part in a pro-Ukrainian rally there on April 17 and who was later found with signs of torture. Volodymyr Rybak, a local city council member in Horlivka, who took part in a pro-Ukrainian rally there on April 17 and who was later found with signs of torture. The Interior Ministry identified Batkivshchyna party Horlivka City Councilman Volodymyr Rybak as one of the two dead bodies found on April 19 in a local river of Slovyansk District in Donetsk Oblast, kyivpost reports. 

Both victims, according to Serhiy Redko, first deputy of the Interior Ministry’s criminal investigation department, had the same cause of death: “combined injuries due to torture and death by drowning while unconscious.”

Rybak and an unidentified body were found on April 19 near the town of Raihorodok in the Torets River, a tributary of Siversky Donets River in Slovyansk District.

“The opposition Horlivka deputy who fought the separatists, and who was kidnapped in Horlivka…was found dead in Siversky Donets (River) near Slovyansk with a backpack filled with sand around his back and ripped stomach…Not Fascists, not separatists… (but) it was scoundrels and carrions (who killed him)... who should be obliterated by any means together with their imperial backers…Heroes never die,” wrote Batkivshchyna lawmaker Oleksandr Bryhynets on his Facebook page.  

According to the Interior Ministry and local news reports, based on eyewitness accounts, pro-Kremlin separatists abducted Rybak around 6 p.m. on April 17 after he took part in a “For a United Ukraine” demonstration near the Horlivka city council building. An eyewitness said he had demanded that the so-called “Donetsk Republic” flag be taken down from the local legislature building, the Interior Ministry stated.

Four masked men dressed in camouflage forced him into a vehicle and drove off to an unknown destination, stated the Interior Ministry citing an unnamed witness. Their ski masks were black-colored, while the city councilman’s mobile phone had been switched off immediately after the kidnapping.

Moscow-backed militants started seizing key government buildings in Slovyansk – 65 kilometers apart from Horlivka – on April 12. The next day suspected Russian special forces ambushed an anti-terrorist team of Ukraine’s Security Service (SBU) near a checkpoint leading to Slovyansk, killing an SBU captain and severely injuring three others, including the group’s leader, a colonel. On April 14, Kremlin-backed insurgents took the Horlivka police station.

Police say they have started a criminal investigation for “unlawful imprisonment or kidnapping.”

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