Kiev is keeping silent on the hundreds of citizens kidnapped in east Ukraine by pro-Russian separatists—but one activist is determined to bear witness to the missing.
Two things motivated Yekaterina Sergatskova to put together her list of people abducted during the past three months of unrest in eastern Ukraine: a lack of interest in the problem by Ukrainian media, and almost no mention of the rising wave of disappearances by state officials. Some people had vanished without a trace; others were given a chance to place a phone call and negotiate their freedom. One night last April, Sergatskova, 26, and an aide sat down and put together a database, to catalogue the victim’s name, and the date and place of abduction. All in all, she counted more than 100 cases. The names included businessmen, bureaucrats, journalists, editors, city council members, and regular citizens.
Since that night, Sergatskova has taken many trips to Donetsk, Kramatorsk, Sloviansk, Luhansk, and a number of other Ukrainian towns gripped by the civil war, to interview heartbroken relatives and take the testimony of abductees who managed to escape or were released from jails in the basements of former state buildings seized by pro-Russian militias.