Wednesday, April 10

“I feel disgusted and I don’t want to live”

With a voice broken by emotion, Elena -his name has been changed- he tries to speak despite everything. Chosen by Russian soldiers for being wife of a ukrainian military, she was raped for hours by two of them, according to his story to AFP. This testimony exemplifies the fears of human rights organizations that show signs of the use of rape as “weapon of war” in Ukraine.

Interviewed in Zaporizhia, a city where thousands of displaced people forced to flee their homes by the Russian occupation in southern Ukraine arrive daily, this blonde woman waits for a bus to join her four children in Vinnytsia, in the center of the country. . From the first day of the invasion, February 24, she sent them there, far from her house in the Kherson region (south), in the front line against the advancing Russians. His husbandwho has been fighting pro-Russian separatists in Donbas in eastern Ukraine for two years, was sent to the front and Elena was left alone to move her belongings.

But as a result of the danger of that journey and the presence of Russian soldiers, she was unable to find a vehicle to empty her house and it was then that the tragedy occurred, on the afternoon of April 3, says this mother of a family. “Around 3:00 p.m. I went to a store. While I was queuing, Russian soldiers came in and started arguing with customers,” she continues.

“I didn’t understand what they were talking about, but I realized that one of the inhabitants was pointing his finger at me saying “it’s a banderovkaremembers Elena. The man was referring to those 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. She is the wife of a military man,” added the man, according to Elena.

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“Without any word”

“I saw them watching me as I rushed out of the store. I barely made it home when the two Russian soldiers came through the door behind me. I didn’t have time to pick up the phone to call for help or do anything,” he says. “Without a word they pushed me onto the bed, they placed a machine gun on me and undressed me“, says the young woman before bursting into tears.

“They hardly spoke, besides sometimes treating me like banderovka or say to each other it’s “your turn”. Then, about four o’clock, they left because it was their turn to stand guard” at their camp.

Elena says she hasn’t talked to anyone yet, not even a doctor or a psychologist, let alone her husband.

“I’m a midwife, I did the first cures myself,” she explains. “I will find everything I need once I reach my destination. I just want to be reunited with my children,” she adds.

When asked about her physical and psychological state, she begins to cry again: “I feel disgusted. I no longer want to live.”

The Ukrainian branch of the NGO La Stradawhich defends women’s rights, has so far received “calls concerning seven cases of rape of Ukrainian women and children by Russian occupiers” on its green number, a woman told AFP by telephone. responsible for the organization, Aliona Kryvuliak.

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

“Russian soldiers committed sexual violence against Ukrainian women and men, against children and the elderly,” the Russian Federation said in a statement released this week. Prosecutor General of Ukraine Iryna Venediktova. The prosecutor insisted on the need to gather evidence, although she recognized the difficulty of doing so in a country at war, in areas where the telephone signal or the electrical network are disturbed. But it is undoubtedly a more expeditious justice that Elena imagines for her rapists and their accomplices. “I am sure that Ukraine will recover those territories from Russian soldiers and that ours will take revenge,” she says. “And I will not point the finger at those inhabitants who pointed the finger at me. I will show them to my husband,” she promises, without revealing what punishment she believes would be at the height of the crime she suffered.

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