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imageGENEVA: The UN's human rights office on Friday called on Ukraine to launch an independent probe of deaths, kidnappings and torture amid raging political unrest.

"We are appalled by the deaths reported in recent days in Kiev, which should be promptly, thoroughly and independently investigated," said Rupert Coville, spokesman for the UN high commissioner for human rights.

"We are also calling for an investigation into reports of kidnappings and torture," he told reporters.

Colville's comments as a missing Ukrainian opposition activist was found badly beaten, saying his captors cut off his ear and drove nails through his hands.

Dmytro Bulatov, a 35-year-old activist from the Avtomaidan group that organised protests against President Viktor Yanukovych, stumbled into a village outside Kiev more than a week after his wife first reported him missing.

Since November, Yanukovych has battled protests against his sudden decision to scrap a key pact with the European Union under the pressure from Russia.

These have since spiralled into an uprising seeking the president's removal from the helm of the ex-Soviet republic.

"We reiterate our call to the government and protesters to exercise restraint and create conditions for dialogue and reconciliation," Colville said.

"International human rights norms and Ukraine's compliance with these standards and its obligations pertaining to human rights must be at the centre of any future solutions and reconciliation processes."

Colville said there were some positive sings in Ukraine, however, welcoming moves towards a dialogue between the embattled president and the opposition.

"We also welcome the abolition by the Ukrainian parliament earlier this week of the laws passed on January 16, which unnecessarily restricted the exercise of the rights to freedom of assembly, association and speech, as well as the operation of NGOs," he said.

He said it would be crucial for Yanukovych to sign the law abolishing the controversial January 16 package.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2014

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