“Will no longer live”: A Ukrainian woman tells of her rape of Russian soldiers

ZAPOROJIA | The voice sometimes overwhelmed by emotion, Elena – her first name has been changed – will still speak. Named after the revenge of Russian soldiers as the wife of a Ukrainian soldier, she was raped for hours by two of them, according to the report she gave to AFP.

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This testimony illustrates the fear of human rights organizations pointing to signs of the use of rape as a “weapon of war” in Ukraine.

The meeting in Zaporozhye, a city where thousands of displaced people thrown on the roads by the Russian occupation of southern Ukraine flock every day, this blonde woman came to wait for a bus to join her four children in Vinnytsia in the center.

From the first day of the invasion, on February 24, she sent them there, far from their home in the Kherson region (south), in the front line against the invasion.

Her husband, who has been fighting pro-Russian separatists for two years in Donbass in eastern Ukraine, sent to the front, Elena explaining that she remained alone there to evacuate their property.

However, due to the danger of this journey and the presence of Russian soldiers, she was unable to find a vehicle to empty their house, and this is where the tragedy occurred, on the afternoon of April 3, this mother continues.

“Around 3pm, I went to a grocery store. While standing in line, Russian soldiers came in and started chatting with customers,” says Elena.

“I could not hear what they were talking about, but I noticed that one of the residents pointed at me and said ‘it’s a banderovka’,” she recalls. The man referred to the nostalgic for the Ukrainian ultranationalist leader Stepan Bandera, who collaborated with Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union.

“” It is because of people like her that this war broke out “, he added, according to her,” “she is a soldier’s wife” “.

“Without a word”

“I understood that they were watching me, so I quickly left the store. I barely managed to get inside, the two Russian soldiers came in through the door behind me. I did not have time to pick up my phone to call for help or do something, ”said Elena.

“Without a word, they pushed me up on the bed, smashed me with a submachine gun and undressed me,” the young woman said before bursting into tears.

“They hardly spoke, except sometimes to call me a ‘banderovka’ or to say to each other ‘your turn.’ And then, around four o’clock, they left because it was time to take their watch in their camp. .

Elena says she has not talked to anyone about it yet, not even a doctor or a psychologist, and especially not her husband.

“I’m a midwife, I provided first aid myself,” she says. “I find everything I need when I arrive at my destination, I just want to find my kids”.

Asked about her physical and mental condition, she bursts into tears again: “I am disgusted. I do not want to live anymore. “

Green number

The Ukrainian section of the NGO La Strada, which defends women’s rights, has so far received on its toll-free number “calls regarding seven cases of rape of Ukrainian women and children by Russian occupiers”, AFP called an official of the organization. Aliona Kryvouliak.

But she expects much higher numbers when the shock and shock from the victims begins to disappear.

“There could be hundreds, even thousands, of women and young girls raped,” Aliona Kryvouliak said.

The first call, on March 4, from Kherson, concerned “gang rape of a mother and her 17-year-old daughter by three men”, the other cases were reported in the Kiev region “after March 12”, she points out.

“Russian soldiers have committed sexual violence against Ukrainian women and men, against children and the elderly,” Ukrainian Attorney General Iryna Venediktova said in a statement released this week.

She insisted on the need to gather evidence, while acknowledging the difficulty of collecting it in a country at war, in areas where the mobile phone or power grid is disrupted.

But it is undoubtedly a quicker justice than Elena imagines for her executioners and their accomplices.

“I am sure that Ukraine will take back these territories from Russian soldiers and that our soldiers will take revenge on them,” she said.

“And I will point the finger at the locals who have nominated me. I will point them out to my husband,” she promises herself without revealing what punishment would be in her eyes at the height of their crime.

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