Ukraine has accused two Russian soldiers of sexually assaulting a four-year-old girl and gang raping her mother at gunpoint in front of her father, as part of widespread allegations of abuse during the more than one-year-long war, Reuters reports.
According to Ukrainian prosecution files seen by Reuters, the incidents were among a spree of sex crimes Russian soldiers of the 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade committed in four homes of Brovary district near the capital Kyiv in March 2022.
During Moscow’s failed push to capture Kyiv after its Feb. 24 invasion, soldiers entered Brovary a few days later, looting and using sexual violence as a deliberate tactic to terrorise the population, the Ukrainian prosecutors said.
“They singled out the women beforehand, coordinated their actions and their roles,” said the prosecutors, whose 2022 documents were based on interviews with witnesses and survivors.
Most of the alleged atrocities took place on March 13, when soldiers “in a state of alcoholic intoxication, broke into the yard of the house where a young family lived,” the prosecutors alleged. The father was beaten with a metal pot then forced to kneel while his wife was gang raped. One of the soldiers told the four-year-old girl he “will make her a woman” before she was abused, the documents said.
The family survived, though prosecutors said they are investigating additional crimes in the area including murders during the same period.
The soldiers were both snipers, aged 32 and 28, the files said, adding that the former had died while the younger, named as Yevgeniy Chernoknizhniy, returned to Russia.
Growing cases of rape by Russian soldiers
The two snipers were among six suspects accused in the Brovary assaults, which prosecutors say is one of the most extensive investigations of sexual abuse since the invasion.
After the alleged attack on the girl and her parents, the two soldiers entered the house of an elderly couple next door, where they beat them, prosecutors said, also raping a 41-year-old pregnant woman and a 17-year-old girl.
At another location where several families lived, the soldiers forced everyone into the kitchen and gang raped a 15-year-old girl and her mother, they said.
All the victims survived, prosecutors said, and were receiving psychological and medical assistance.
A pre-trial investigation is ongoing into the possible role of superior officials in the Brovary attacks, prosecutors said, in a case adding to growing allegations of systematic sexual abuse by Russian soldiers.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office says it is investigating more than 71,000 reports of war crimes received since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops over the border.
A scan of a document with a lineup of 12 Russian soldiers suspected in a spree of sexual violence in the Brovary district on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine in March 2022, compiled by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s war crimes office to help victims identify perpetrators of rape and other atrocities. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office/Handout via REUTERS