The incidents were among a series of sex crimes committed by Russian soldiers from the 15th Separate Motorized Rifle Brigade in March 2022 in four houses in the Brovary district near the capital Kiev, according to Ukrainian prosecution files seen by Reuters.
Russia’s Defense Ministry did not respond to a request for comment. The phone numbers listed for the brigade were garbled. two officers in Samara garrisonThose of whom 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.
Ukrainian prosecutors said that during Moscow’s failed attempt to capture Kiev following the 24 February invasion, soldiers entered the Brovary a few days later, looting and performing sexual acts as a deliberate tactic to terrorize the population. used violence.
“They pre-selected the women, coordinated their actions and their roles,” said prosecutors, whose 2022 document was based on interviews with witnesses and survivors.
Most of the alleged atrocities took place on 13 March, when soldiers “in a state of intoxication, entered the courtyard of a house where a young family lived,” prosecutors alleged.
The father was thrashed with a metal utensil then forced to kneel while his wife was gang-raped. The documents said one of the soldiers told the four-year-old girl that he would “make her a woman” before abusing her.
The family escaped, although prosecutors said they are investigating additional crimes in the area, including murders during the same period.
The government of President Vladimir Putin, 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 knew about sexual violence by soldiers.
The soldiers were both snipers, aged 32 and 28, the files said, adding that the former had died while the younger, named Yevgeny Chernoknizhny, had returned to Russia.
When Reuters asked for the identity of the two soldiers, prosecutors only gave the youth’s name. When Reuters called a number in the online database for him, a man said he was Chernoknizhny’s brother and said he was dead.
“He’s dead. There’s no way you can catch him,” the man cried. “That’s all I can say.”
Reuters was unable to independently verify his claim.
The two snipers were among six suspects accused in the Browery attacks, in what prosecutors say is one of the most comprehensive investigations into sexual abuse since the invasion.
Prosecutors said that after the alleged attack on the girl and her parents, two soldiers entered the house of an elderly couple next door, where they beat them, also raped a 41-year-old pregnant woman and a 17-year-old girl .
In another location where several families lived, soldiers gang-raped a 15-year-old girl and her mother, leading them all into the kitchen, he said.
All the victims survived, prosecutors said, and were receiving psychological and medical support.
Adding to growing allegations of systematic sexual abuse by Russian soldiers, prosecutors said a pre-trial investigation is underway into the possible role of senior officers in the Brovary attacks.
Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office says it is investigating more than 71,000 reports of war crimes received since Russia sent thousands of troops to the border.
Ukrainian investigators are aware that the chances of finding and punishing suspects are slim and potential trials will take place mainly in absentia, but there are international efforts to prosecute war crimes, including the International Criminal Court.
While suspects are unlikely to be surrendered by Moscow, anyone convicted in absentia could be placed on an international watch list, which would make it difficult to travel.
Russia has also accused the Ukrainian military of war crimes, including the execution of 10 prisoners of war.
The United Nations Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine has said that most of the dozens of sexual violence allegations point to the Russian military.
So far, Ukrainian prosecutors have convicted 26 Russians of war crimes — some prisoners of war, some in absentia — including one for rape.