Russian generals not only knew that rape was used as a weapon in Ukraine, but in some cases “encouraged or even ordered it,” according to a lawyer supporting Kiev’s war crimes investigation.
Wayne Jordash KC told Reuters that research in the capital, Kyiv, showed some of the sexual violence involved a level of organization that “calls for more systematic planning.”
The previously unreported findings are part of patterns of alleged sexual violence that are emerging as Russia’s war in Ukraine enters its ninth month.
Mr Jordash, who is part of a Western-backed team providing legal expertise to Ukraine, said it was too early to tell how widespread the practice was as investigations deepened in the recently retaken territories in the north-east and South were at an earlier stage.
However, the patterns suggested that sexual violence was “perhaps even more common” in areas that had been occupied longer, he added, without presenting any evidence.
Reuters interviewed more than twenty people who have worked with alleged victims – including police officers, doctors and lawyers – as well as one alleged rape victim and family members of another.
They exchanged reports of alleged sexual violence by Russian troops taking place in different parts of Ukraine.
Many included allegations that family members were being forced to watch, or that multiple soldiers were taking part, or that acts were being carried out at gunpoint.
Reuters could not independently confirm the accounts.
Some of the circumstances – including family members who witnessed a rape – surface in alleged attacks by Russians documented by a United Nations-commissioned investigative body in a report released last month, which said the victims were between four and over 80 years old.
In March, in the Chernihiv region of northern Ukraine, a soldier from Russia’s 80th tank regiment repeatedly sexually abused a girl and threatened to kill family members, according to a ruling by the Chernihiv District Court.
The court this month found 31-year-old Ruslan Kuliyev and another Russian soldier under his command guilty in absentia of war crimes for assaulting local residents, the verdict said.
Kuliyev, who the court said was a first lieutenant, and the other soldier could not be reached for comment.
Rape can constitute a war crime under the Geneva Conventions, which establish international legal norms for the conduct of armed conflict.
Widespread or systematic sexual violence could constitute crimes against humanity that are generally considered more serious, legal experts said.
The Kremlin, which said it was conducting a “special military operation” in Ukraine, has denied committing war crimes or targeting civilians.
In response to Reuters questions about alleged sexual violence by the Russian military in Ukraine, including whether commanders were aware of it and whether it was systematic, the Kremlin press service said it denied “such allegations.”
It referred detailed questions to the Russian Defense Ministry, which did not respond.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office said the war “aims to exterminate the Ukrainian people” and that sexual violence is among Russian crimes “aimed at spreading a state of terror, causing suffering and fear among the civilian population of Ukraine.” .
“There is evidence that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war,” Pramila Patten, the UN Secretary-General’s special representative on sexual violence in conflict, told Reuters.
She cited reports of circumstances such as rape in front of family members, gang rape and forced nudity.
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https://metro.co.uk/2022/11/24/russian-generals-encouraged-or-ordered-rape-to-be-used-as-a-weapon-17819574/ Russian generals "encouraged or ordered" the use of rape as a weapon