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First criminal case of wartime rape brought before Ukrainian court, General Prosecutor's Office reports

The Kyiv Region Prosecutor's Office has brought the first criminal case of wartime sexual violence to court. The indictment is against Russian national Mikhail Romanov of the 239th Regiment of the 90th Guards Tank Vitebsk-Novgorod Division for violation of the laws or customs of war (Parts 1 and 2 of Article 438 of Ukraine's Criminal Code), reports Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova.

The investigation has found that Romanov, inebriated, broke into a private detached house in the occupied Brovary District in March and shot the owner dead. After that, he and several Russian soldiers raped the victim’s wife multiple times. According to Venediktova, the perpetrators threatened the woman with weapons and applying violence to her young son, who was present at the scene.

The pre-trial investigation was conducted by the Chief Security Service Directorate for Kyiv and Kyiv Region. “Even though the defendant is out of reach at the moment, he will not evade a fair trial and justice,” writes Venediktova.

The Times journalist spoke with the survivor in March: “I heard a single shot, the sounds of the gate opening, and then steps inside the house. I shouted out to my husband, then looked outside and saw him lying on the ground by the gate. The younger man [Romanov] put a gun against my head and said: ‘I shot your husband because he's a Nazi.’ ... Then they both raped me, one by one. They didn’t care that my son was crying in the boiler room. They told me to make him stop and come back. All the time they were holding a gun against my head and torturing me, saying: ‘How d’you reckon, will she suck him off? Shall we kill her or let her go?’”

The first Russian soldier to be prosecuted for war crimes in Ukraine was Vadim Shishimarin, 21-year-old squad leader of the 4th Guards Tank Division. According to the prosecution, he shot a resident of Chupakhovka, Sumy Region, on February 28. On May 28, a Kyiv court sentenced him to life in prison.

The second and the third defendants were Russian soldiers Alexander Bobykin and Alexander Ivanov. On May 26, they pleaded guilty on the charges of shelling residential blocks in the Kharkiv Region. Both their sentences will be passed on May 31.

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