Rot in Hell: Two Russian snipers who sexually assaulted four-year-old Ukrainian girl in front of her father, gang-raped her mother and a pregnant woman have both died
- The two soldiers were both snipers, aged 32 and 28, according to documents
- They were part of a six-man squad that is alleged to have committed war crimes
Two Russian snipers who sexually assaulted a four-year-old Ukrainian girl in front of her father – and also gang raped her mother and a pregnant woman – are both dead, it has been revealed.
According to Ukrainian prosecution files, the horrific attacks were among a spree of sex crimes committed by Russian soldiers of the 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade in four homes of Brovary district near the capital Kyiv in March 2022.
The dead soldiers were among six suspects accused in the Brovary assaults, which prosecutors say is one of the most extensive investigations of sexual abuse since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February.
Since then, Putin’s forces are accused of committing thousands of war crimes, with the International Criminal Court (ICC) said to be preparing charges.
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.
Two Russian snipers who sexually assaulted a four-year-old Ukrainian girl in front of her father – and also gang raped her mother and a pregnant women – are both dead. Pictured: 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, in March 2022, compiled by Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s war crimes office to help victims identify perpetrators of rape and other atrocities
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.
READ MORE: Rape as a weapon of war – how women and girls have become the victims of sexual violence in conflicts throughout history
All the victims survived, prosecutors said, and were receiving psychological and medical assistance.
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.
When Reuters news agency asked for the identities of both soldiers, prosecutors provided only the name of the younger man.
When Reuters called a number in online databases for him, a person saying he was Chernoknizhniy’s brother said he was deceased.
‘He died. There’s no way you can get hold of him,’ said the man, crying. ‘That’s all that I can say.’ Reuters said it was unable to independently confirm his assertion.
It was not immediately clear how either of the soldiers had died.
Russia’s Defence Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. Phone numbers listed for the brigade were out of order. Two officials at the Samara Garrison, of which the brigade is a part, said they were unable to give contacts for the unit when contacted by Reuters, with one saying they were classified.
During Moscow’s failed push to capture Kyiv after its February 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.
A pre-trial investigation is also 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 over the last year.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office says it is investigating more than 71,000 reports of war crimes since Russia sent tens of thousands of troops over the border.
A woman identified only as Julia, 34 , cries next to her daughter Veronika, 6, while talking to the press in Brovary, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, March 29, 2022 – after Russian forces pulled out of the region. Neither were victims of the Russian sniper duo
Pictured: Destroyed Russian tanks are seen on a main road after battles near Brovary, north of Kyiv, Ukraine, March 10, 2022 – in the first days of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
During Moscow’s failed push to capture Kyiv after its February 24 invasion, soldiers entered Brovary (shown on map) a few days later, looting and using sexual violence as a deliberate tactic to terrorise the population, the Ukrainian prosecutors said
Ukrainian investigators know the probability of finding and punishing suspects is low and potential trials would be mainly in absentia, but there are also international efforts to prosecute war crimes including by the International Criminal Court.
While suspects are unlikely to be surrendered by Moscow, anyone convicted in absentia may be placed on international watchlists.
This would make it difficult for them to travel for risk of being detained.
A UN human rights monitoring mission in Ukraine has said that most of the dozens of sexual violence accusations pointed at the Russian military.
So far, Ukrainian prosecutors have convicted 26 Russians of war crimes – some prisoners of war, some in absentia – of which one was for rape.
President Vladimir Putin’s government, which says it is fighting Western-backed ‘neo-Nazis’ in Ukraine, has repeatedly denied allegations of atrocities. It has also denied that its military commanders are aware of sexual violence by soldiers.
Russia has also accused Ukrainian forces of war crimes, including the execution of 10 prisoners of war.
In what would be the first international war crimes cases arising from the invasion, the International Criminal Court (ICC) is soon expected to seek the arrest of Russian officials, a source told Reuters.
Russia would be certain to reject arrest warrants against its officials, but an international war crimes prosecution could deepen its diplomatic isolation over a campaign that has killed thousands of civilians and driven millions from their homes.
On Tuesday, TASS news agency quoted the Kremlin’s spokesman as saying Russia does not recognise the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court in The Hague.
Dmitry Peskov was asked about reports the ICC was expected to seek its first arrest warrants against Russian individuals in relation to the conflict in Ukraine shortly.
‘We do not recognise this court, we do not recognise its jurisdiction,’ he said.
The prosecutor of the ICC is expected to ask a pre-trial judge to approve issuing warrants against several Russians for the abduction of children from Ukraine to Russia and the targeting of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine.
Meanhile, Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky said overnight Ukraine’s future hinges on the outcome of battles in the east, including in and around Bakhmut.
Both sides have described brutal fighting in the small city as Russia intensifies a winter campaign to capture it.
The ruined mining town of Bakhmut has become the focus of Russia’s invasion, with the months-long fight for it becoming Europe’s bloodiest infantry battle since World War Two.
‘It is very tough in the east – very painful,’ Zelenskiy said in a Monday video address that he has held nightly since Russia launched its invasion more than a year ago.
‘We have to destroy the enemy’s military power. And we shall destroy it,’ he added.
Pictured: A turret of a destroyed Russian tank lies on the roadside near the small city of Brovary, near Kyiv, in April 2022 after the region was liberated from Russian occupiers
Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, Britain’s Karim Khan, visits a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on April 13, 2022. The prosecutor of the ICC is expected to ask a pre-trial judge to approve issuing warrants against several Russians for the abduction of children from Ukraine to Russia and the targeting of civilian infrastructure in Ukraine
Three dug graves are ready for the next funerals at the cemetery in Irpin, on the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Tuesday, April 19, 2022. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s office says it is investigating more than 71,000 reports of war crimes since the invasion began
Trench warfare, described by both sides as a meat grinder, has claimed a huge toll in Bakhmut, in Donetsk, with both sides reporting hundreds of enemy troops had been killed.
Russia launched five missile attacks, 35 air strikes and 76 attacks with heavy rocket salvo systems over the past day, including on civilian infrastructure in the Sumy and Donetsk regions, Ukraine’s military said early on Wednesday.
Ukrainian forces repelled attacks on seven settlements in the Bakhmut front, it added.
Russia says taking Bakhmut would open a path to capture all of Donetsk, a central war aim. Ukraine, which has decided to defend Bakhmut rather than withdraw, says wearing out Russia’s military now will help its counter-offensive later.
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