Theatre director and artist still held captive by Kremlin-backed militants


It is over a month since theatre director Pavlo Yurov and artist Denis Hryshchuk were abducted in Slovyansk [Donetsk oblast].  As reported, they disappeared on April 25 shortly after arriving in Slovyansk for the day from Donetsk.

Anastasia Kasilova, Yurov’s friend and coordinator of efforts to get the men released, says that they have no news about the men’s whereabouts.  They are planning to picket both the president’s administration and the SBU on Wednesday, demanding that measures are taken to free the hostages.  They complain that the authorities have done nothing to obtain Hryshchuk and Yurov’s release.  During the time since the men’s abduction, they note that “OSCE representatives were released with the help of the Ukrainian authorities and Europe”; Alpha [security service] officers were exchanged for Pavel Gubarev [one of the leaders of the Donetsk pro-Russian militants].  Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claims to have negotiated with the Ukrainian authorities and obtained the release of Russian Life News journalists accused of terrorism.  They demand similar measures for the release of the hostages and stress that the authorities are obliged to protect their citizens.

The 34-year-old theatre director is originally from Antratsyt [Luhansk oblast], and now lives in Kyiv as does 29-year-old Denys Hryshchuk who was born in Donetsk.  They went to Slovyansk to “see everything with their own eyes” in order to produce a play.

As reported, Serhiy Lefter, one of the journalists held for some time by the Slovyansk militants, spoke of Yurov and Hryshchuk who he says were held in the same SBU basement, together with a 19-year-old student called Ihor.  “Ihor had tape over his hands and eyes, but at least they weren’t hitting him.  Pavlo and Denis were in a far worse situation, he says:  Denis may have a fractured rib, while Pavlo has a broken nose.  They asked for doctors to be brought, but they haven’t been allowed to see them.”

It is evident from Lefter’s words, as well as reports from civic activists, that there are other hostages as well.  Concern is great, especially since there are very strong grounds for believing these same Slovynask militants to be behind the killing of three hostages -  Horlivka city council deputy Volodymyr Rybak; 19-year-old student Yury Popravko and 25-year-old Yury Diadkovsky.  

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