In Ukraine, rape used as a weapon of war by the Russian army, according to kyiv and several organizations

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Accusations of rape against the Russian army have been linked in recent days, especially since the discovery of the Boutcha massacre, in the kyiv region. Although difficult to collect, some of the evidence is overwhelming.

A family mourns a missing relative outside a mass grave in the town of Bucha on April 3. © AFP / NARCISO CONTRERAS / ANADOLU AGENCY

Mass graves, corpses lying in the street or in cellars… Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky broadcast a video on Tuesday before the UN denouncing Russian war crimes and calling for Russia’s exclusion from the Security Council. Among these crimes, the issue of rape is beginning to emerge. At this stage of the war, it is impossible to give precise figures. But according to Ukrainian authorities and human rights organisations, the evidence is mounting.

A damning recording

This is a photo that shocked a lot, last Sunday, during the discovery of the hell of Boutcha, after the withdrawal of the Russian forces. The image shows bodies hidden under a blanket, about twenty kilometers from the Ukrainian capital, kyiv. A closer examination will show that these covered bodies, framed by tires, are those of a man and three women. The corpses of the women are naked, partially burned. What, for the Ukrainian authorities, to fuel the accusations of rape.

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Bundles of clues accumulate, like this conversation captured this March by the Ukrainian security servicesbetween a Russian soldier and his mother, during which the young man denounces his comrades:

In a neighboring village, near here, boys raped a woman.
How awful !
– Yes… An adult, and a 16-year-old woman. I want to shoot those who did this. Fuck them, I want them to go home in a coffin.”

“Children were raped in front of their parents”

Kateryna Cherepakha chairs La Strada Ukraine, a human rights organization that has already documented four cases, or six rapes in total. Three of these cases took place in the kyiv region, and the fourth, in the south of the country, where fighting is raging between Russian and Ukrainian soldiers.

“There are casessays Kateryna Cherepakha, where children were raped in front of their mothers, their parents. Sometimes they were violated at the same time. Those who suffered from these rapes will find it very difficult to testify, already that in normal times, it’s complicated… It will take time. This is something that needs to be very seriously documented, for then those who are guilty to be held accountable.”

However, evidence is difficult to collect

But, as the fighting continues, human rights organizations come up against a major difficulty, that of collecting evidence. “In many places where these crimes took placecontinues Kateryna Cherepakha, the houses, the buildings, are mined. Authorities continue to find places where people have been held captive, tortured, raped. And then it continues right now, the crimes continue to be perpetrated.”

This manager is convinced: the six cases of rape listed by La Strara Ukraine represent, according to her, only a drop of water. A tiny part of all the horrors that will be uncovered later, especially in the south of the country and in the Donbass, where Russian troops are being redeployed. In the meantime, the testimonies collected can be used by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine, as well as the International Court of Human Rights, which have announced investigations.

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