Amnesty International has published a damning report accusing separatist groups and pro-Kyiv forces of abducting, beating and torturing activists, protesters and journalists in the east of Ukraine over the last three months.
“The bulk of the abductions are being perpetrated by armed separatists, with the victims often subjected to stomach-turning beatings and torture,” said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s deputy director of Europe and Central Asia.
“There is also evidence of a smaller number of abuses by pro-Kyiv forces,” he added.
Meanwhile, at least four Ukrainian servicemen have been killed during an ongoing military campaign against pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country, according to Ukraine’s military and the border guard service.
In Donetsk, government forces have gained the upper hand in the conflict.
Mykola Leleka, a Ukrainian army serviceman explained: “I am ready to fight to the end along with my friends in order for all of this to end as soon as possible, so that my nephews can walk through this land without any trouble.”
On the outskirts of Donetsk, separatists were in position around the airport which is controlled by Kyiv. Shots were heard overnight.
One of the rebels said: “We are defending our motherland. And we don’t want some Western people to come here and rule over us. We simply will not allow this. There are a lot of miners here, a lot of builders, ordinary people.”
Pro-Russian separatists have been fighting government forces in the majority Russian-speaking east since April.
More than 200 Ukrainian troops have been killed as well as hundreds of civilians and rebels.