Ukrainian officials document sexual crimes committed by the Russian army against Ukrainians during the war. This is not only about the rape of women, but also about forced nakedness and torture of men and children, writes The New York Times, citing Irina Didenko, a representative of the prosecutor's office who is investigating these crimes.
The Ukrainian side claims that Russian commanders knew about the rapes or even encouraged them.
According to witnesses, Russian commanders issued instructions that encouraged the military to resort to violence, such as ordering the soldiers to “relax a little.”
Didenko described a case in which the commander told his soldiers: “Okay, go ahead,” while he himself remained near the house. After that, one of the soldiers was heard to say: “We will simply beat this one, and we will rape this one.”
Didenko also described a case in which eight Russian soldiers raped and attacked a man who was stopped at a checkpoint. “These are not isolated cases,” she emphasizes.
According to her, there is an even clearer pattern of organized sexual violence in pre-trial detention centers run by Russian military personnel, police officers and law enforcement agencies.
Investigators found at least four large pre-trial detention centers in Kherson with clear evidence of systematic torture. In the basement of the business center, the detainees slept on pieces of cardboard in complete darkness and carved dials on the wall to count the days. The police found there a rubber truncheon, metal handcuffs and an electric grill, with which the detainees burned their fingers. They also found a list with the names of Russian officers who worked there. Sexual violence, including rape with batons and electric shocks to the genitals, is widely practiced in such centers, according to prosecutors and city officials.
The similarity of eyewitness accounts from different cities, describing the methods of torture and the interrogations that took place, convinced the Ukrainian prosecutor's office that the Russian leadership was behind all this:
“It cannot be that a soldier did this without an order,” Didenko says. “They arrive promptly, know their business, torture people, causing pain to their genitals. It's definitely a system."
Russian officials have repeatedly denied allegations of human rights violations , despite widespread evidence and reports gathered by Ukrainian and international investigators . The representative of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, recently called the report of the UN Commission on Human Rights unfounded evidence and nothing more than "rumors and gossip."