Russian troops ‘systematically raped’ 25 women, girls as young as 14 in a Bucha basement, Ukraine says
After five weeks of Russian occupation, the Kyiv suburb of “Bucha is a landscape of horrors,” The New York Times reports in a graphic photo essay compiled over more than a week spent with officials, coroners, and scores of witnesses in the recently liberated city. “The evidence suggests the Russians killed recklessly and sometimes sadistically, in part out of revenge.”
Ukrainian officials said that as of Sunday, they had discovered the bodies of more than 360 civilians in Bucha and its immediate surroundings, including more than 250 killed by bullets or shrapnel and now being investigated as war crimes, Bucha chief regional prosecutor Ruslan Kravchenko tells the Times. Along with the executions and random murder are horrific cases of torture and sexual violence.
One man who fled his home with his wife when a Russian armored vehicle rammed their fence, said when they finally returned home after the Russians left, they found it “ransacked, filled with rubbish and beer bottles,” the Times reports. “Then, in a cellar under the garden shed, his nephew discovered the body of a woman” wearing “a fur coat and nothing else.” Police said she had been shot in the head, and they found condom wrappers, a used condom, and other signs she was kept as a sex slave before being executed, the Times reports.
Ukraine’s ombudswoman for human rights, Lyudmyla Denisova, said she has recorded many horrific cases of sexual violence by Russian troops in Bucha and other places, speculating that the rapes were partly revenge for stiff Ukrainian resistance but also a Russian weapon of war.
In one case, “about 25 girls and women aged 14 to 24 were systematically raped during the occupation in the basement of one house in Bucha. Nine of them are pregnant,” Denisova told BBC News. “Russian soldiers told them they would rape them to the point where they wouldn’t want sexual contact with any man, to prevent them from having Ukrainian children.” The BBC also spoke with one woman who recounted being raped.
CBS News, which spoke to a different woman who described being raped by a Russian soldier, notes that it is incredibly difficult to prosecute war crimes. Ukraine prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova told CNN Monday evening that her office is investigating 5,800 cases of Russian war crimes and has so far identified more than 500 suspects, including Russian politicians, military personnel, and propagandists.