‘I wanted to take off my skin’: Ukrainian women recount rape by Russian soldiers

Three Russian soldiers arrive at Victoria’s home and claim they want to confiscate her cell phone. But they weren’t looking for a phone.

Victoria, a 42-year-old Ukrainian woman, told ABC News that in March she and a neighbor were raped by two Russian soldiers in her village near Kyiv.

ABC News spoke with two women who agreed to talk about what happened to them on the condition that their location and last name not be revealed.

Another soldier, a commanding officer who was not involved in the attack, threatened Victoria, she says.

“He looked at me and said, ‘You see, our kids have been drinking and they want to have fun,'” Victoria says. “I knew something terrible was going to happen.”

Two soldiers took the women to a house turned into a Russian-occupied headquarters and raped them, they say.

Victoria, a Ukrainian woman who describes her ordeal in Russian business, pours tea in her home.

ABC News

That neighbor, 44-year-old Natalie, recounted the incident to ABC News.

“He says, ‘Do you want everything to be okay with your son? So go up and do as I say,'” Natalya said, describing her encounter with a Russian soldier who allegedly raped her. “He was like an animal…and that rifle was hanging around and swinging.”

Natalya says she later learned that the soldiers killed her husband after he was taken away. It is not clear how many soldiers or who was involved in the killing. The family cremated the husband the next day.

The two Russian soldiers who the women say they raped have not yet been identified but face international arrest warrants, said Kateryna Duchenko, the Ukrainian prosecutor in charge of cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers. Both cases are under investigation as there is little chance of the suspects being detained or jailed, she said.

In the small towns and suburbs of Kiev, stories of rape and other atrocities by the Russian military are not unheard of. resident of bushing And Borodyanka Russian forces committed human rights violations during the invasion, including rape, murder, and torture.

Photo: Kateryna Duchenko, the Ukrainian prosecutor in charge of cases of sexual violence committed by Russian soldiers, speaks to ABC News.

Kateryna Duchenko, the Ukrainian prosecutor in charge of cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers, speaks to ABC News.

ABC News

Russian officials did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment on the cases.

“The last case [we identified] It was in the occupied territory of the Zaporizhia region, where 10 Russian soldiers raped a woman, Duchenko said.

Communicating with residents of Russian-occupied territories is extremely difficult, making it nearly impossible to investigate and prosecute these cases, Duchenko said.

“We know that she is alive and that she has received medical treatment and we have all those details,” Duchenko said of the limited information on the case in Zaporizhia.

United Nations Reported in June It collected 124 reports of alleged acts of conflict-related sexual violence but qualified that number as “the tip of the iceberg,” adding that it “does not reflect the extent of sexual violence in the context of Russia’s war against Ukraine.”

Victoria and Natalya say they are now counseling with psychologists about their trauma.

“I wanted to peel off my skin,” says Victoria. “I was no longer the person I was before the war. I became more aggressive. I started fighting more for myself.”

Natalya says she still agrees with the attack.

“A lot of people have asked me, why aren’t you crying, why aren’t you mad?” she said

In June, Ukrainian officials said they had opened the first trial of sexual assault by a Russian soldier, according to Kyiv post. The suspect will be tried in absentia.

Duchenko’s office says it is working to prosecute two other cases of sexual violence by Russian soldiers in addition to the case opened in June. The suspects will also be tried in absentia, as they are not in Ukrainian custody.

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