“Like it, don’t like it, be patient, my beauty,” Putin
Russian army rapes in Ukraine, June 27, 2022
“Like it, don’t like it, be patient, my beauty,” Putin said about Ukraine during a press conference in early February 2022.
This veiled threat of coercion and sexual violence from the lips of the President of the Russian Federation hints at the peculiarities of Russia’s domestic and foreign policy, as well as the mentality of its citizens. It literally characterizes the behavior of the Russian army, which uses rape and the civilian population as a weapon. The occupiers massively rape Ukrainians and Ukrainian women of all ages and gender, while their wives, meanwhile, not only approve, but also encourage violence.
We explain why rape in war is a war crime, where victims can turn for help, and why this problem needs to be made public.
The behavior of Russian military rapists in Ukraine is not surprising, given the social and cultural milieu they come from. In Russian society, gender-based violence is a common thing. In 2017, the Russian State Duma decriminalized domestic violence, now it is an administrative offense. Russian officials even avoid the name of the crime: the law refers to “single beatings inflicted by a close relative.” Campaigns against the criminalization of domestic violence were led by right-wing radical, Ukrainian-phobic Russian organizations close to the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), such as the Double-Headed Eagle, the Union of Orthodox Citizens, the Forty Forties, the Parental All-Russian Resistance, etc.
In 2019, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ordered the Russian Federation to strengthen sectoral legislation to counter domestic violence. The prerequisite was the lawsuit of a Russian woman who was sexually abused and harassed by a former partner. It is predicted that the case was not crowned with success, because back in 2015 Putin adopted amendments to the law “On the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation”, allowing him not to recognize the decision of the ECtHR. Against the backdrop of the war with Ukraine, on June 11, the President of the Russian Federation signed a law on non-compliance with decisions of the ECtHR adopted after March 15, 2022.
Meanwhile, Ukraine is one of the countries-authors of the Istanbul Convention (“Council of Europe Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Violence Against Women and Domestic Violence”), which was signed among the first countries on November 11, 2011. This document aims to protect people from domestic and gender-based violence. For ten years, pro-Russian and conservative forces prevented the ratification of the document. Ukrainian civil society held rallies and actions, media campaigns in support of the Istanbul Convention, and two petitions to the president demanding approval received 25,000 votes each. Finally, on June 22, 2022, Ukraine ratified the Istanbul Convention as one of the requirements for obtaining EU candidate status.
What does the legislation say?
Rape and other sexual crimes in war are a violation of the rules and customs of its conduct, as well as the norms of international humanitarian law – Article 27 of the Geneva Convention (1949) and the Additional Protocol to the Geneva Conventions (dated August 12, 1949). Such acts (forced exposure, forced sterilization, forced prostitution) are classified as war crimes and crimes against humanity. In 1998, the International Tribunal for Rwanda first identified rape as a means of committing genocide. In 2000, the International Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia in The Hague called rape a crime against humanity.
Under international law, ratified in Ukraine, various forms of sexual violence fall under the definition of torture: cruel, inhuman acts that degrade human dignity. Ukrainian legislation does not define the concept of “war crime” and does not classify rape as a separate war crime. But “violation of the rules and customs of warfare” is punishable by imprisonment for a term of 8 to 12 years.
War crimes and crimes against humanity are investigated by the International Criminal Court in The Hague in accordance with the Rome Statute and taking into account the statutes and experience of the international tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda. According to international law, such crimes have no statute of limitations. This means that Russian servicemen-rapists will be searched for until they are found and convicted. War crimes and crimes against humanity involve command responsibility. That is, not only rapists, but also their commanders will be punished for rape. In addition, war criminals are not subject to amnesty.
According to the law of Ukraine, crimes against sexual freedom and integrity are: rape, sexual violence, coercion to sex, sexual acts against a child under 16, corruption of minors and claims to a child. In 2019, an updated definition of rape came into force in Ukraine. Now this crime is qualified on the basis of the lack of voluntary consent of a person. Previously, it was necessary to prove the fact of the threat of the use of physical violence or its commission, or the case when the offender took advantage of the helpless state of the injured person. It should be recalled that people of both sexes suffer from sexual crimes, although the statistics are very skewed towards the victims of women.
Rape as a weapon
History is full of unfortunate cases where women suffered massively from rape and other sexual crimes during wars. According to British historian Anthony Beevor, during the Second World War, the Soviet military raped about 2 million European women. In his book “The Fall of Berlin” he gives accounts of the numerous sexual crimes of the Red Army in East Prussia. These documents, by the way, are now stored in the State Archives of the Russian Federation. Many women then decided to kill their children and commit suicide in order not to fall into the hands of rapists. German historian Barbara Yohr suggests that in Berlin alone, Soviet soldiers could rape up to 600,000 women. Horrible details about mass violence are told in their books by physicists Gabriela Koepp (“Why was I born a girl?”), Journalist Martha Gillers (“Woman in Berlin”) and other victims.
British Ambassador to Ukraine Melinda Simmons on April 3 called rape a weapon that the Russian army deliberately uses in Ukraine. History suggests that Russia has been honing this type of weapon for years.
During the Bosnian War and the Srebrenica genocide (1992–1995), Serbian troops set up “rape camps” and forced brothels in local hotels. The tragically famous hotel “Vilina Vlas”, which was a concentration camp and one of the central places of mass violence. Here, about 200 Bosnian women were held by force, raped and beaten. According to the Association of Women Victims of War, less than ten women survived after imprisonment in Vilina Vlas. In general, according to various estimates, from 20 to 50 thousand women suffered from rape and other sexual crimes during the war in Bosnia. There were also injured men. A 2017 Amnesty International report says that tens of thousands of victims have yet to receive adequate compensation and punishment for their offenders. It was in Bosnia, on the side of the Serbian army, according to the Ukrainian writer Oksana Zabuzhko, that the terrorist of the so-called DNR and LNR, Igor Girkin, who was recognized as a war criminal, began his “career”. According to Srdzh Pavlovich, a scholar and writer from Montenegro, in 2014, in the Donetsk region, Girkin applied the Bosnian experience of terrorizing the civilian population. It is obvious that during the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, the Russian army is again using this shameful strategy.The Russian military massively raped the civilian population during the First (1994–1996) and Second (1999–2009) Russo-Chechen Wars. The most famous filtration camp existed on the basis of a pre-trial detention center in the village of Chernokozovo, Naursky district of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria. Rape was used as a form of torture. One of the many crimes became resonant. On March 27, 2000, Russian army colonel Yuri Budanov kidnapped, pervertedly raped, strangled and buried an 18-year-old Chechen girl, Chu Elza Kungayeva. The rapist and murderer was sentenced to 10 years in prison and subsequently released early. In 2011, Chechens shot Budanov in the middle of the day in Moscow.
During the eight years of the Russian-Ukrainian war in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions, thousands have suffered from sexual crimes. Public organizations and media reports speak of forced exposure, gang rape, sexual slavery, forced prostitution, forced sterilization, and other forms of violence and torture. The Association of Women Lawyers of Ukraine YurFem cites UN data that from 2014 to 2021, 3.1% of men and 8.2% of women, detained by the Russian military in the temporarily uncontrolled territories of the so-called, suffered from sexual violence. DNR and LNR. In the war zone, YurFem notes, every third woman is a victim or eyewitness of this crime. Among men, this is one in four.
Ukraine twice, in 2014 and 2015, applied to the International Criminal Court in The Hague regarding Russian war crimes on our territory. In 2018, the Justice for Peace in Donbas coalition of human rights organizations submitted to the International Court of Justice over 100 pages of documented evidence of systemic sexual crimes committed against Ukrainian women and Ukrainians in the war zone in eastern Ukraine. After the full-scale invasion of the Russian Federation on February 24, a new trial of the case of the genocide of the Ukrainian people was initiated. On March 3, an advance team of the International Criminal Court arrived in Ukraine to investigate Russian war crimes.
In May, the first all-out war rape case launched by the Russian Federation against Ukraine appeared. They will judge a Russian military man who, while drunk, shot a Ukrainian in his house in the Kiev region. After that, the invader repeatedly raped the wife of the deceased, threatening her with murder and violence against her little son, who was hiding nearby in the boiler room.
The cruelty of the Russian army
On March 23, the first official suspicion appeared about the rape of a Ukrainian woman by the Russian military. The information was published by the Prosecutor General of Ukraine Irina Venediktova on her Facebook page. The offender broke into a private house in a village near Brovary and shot the owner. And then, with another military man, he repeatedly raped the wife of the murdered man next to their child.
At the end of May, the Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights, Lyudmila Denisova, reported that the Commissioner’s hotline had already received 1,500 reports of rape and torture committed by the Russian army. The real figures, unfortunately, are much higher, because not all victims are ready to talk about their experiences due to the stigmatization of this problem in society and fear of invaders. It is not known how many such people cannot be evacuated from the temporarily occupied territories. Some of the female victims were tortured to death by the Russian military, so their bodies will be examined to confirm or deny the fact of rape before death.
Many testimonies come from volunteer, psychological and other public organizations. Some victims have already contacted the La Strada-Ukraine hotline. The president of the organization, Ekaterina Turtle, said that the calls are mainly from the victims in the occupied territories, so it is not yet possible to help them due to active hostilities.
During the full-scale war in Ukraine, the Russian military proved to be marauders, and now they have also distinguished themselves with particular cruelty towards the civilian population. Telephone conversations intercepted by the SBU give every reason to believe that humanity has simply atrophied in their value system. Russian soldiers do not even try to hide their cruelty. One of such eloquent cases was told by Lyudmila Denisova, Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine for Human Rights. In the Kiev region, Russian infidels told underage girls that they would rape them so that they would never again want to be close to any man and would not give birth to Ukrainian children. This deliberate cruelty and deliberate intention to torture civilians just because they are Ukrainians can be regarded as part of the genocide of the Russian army against the Ukrainian people.
The Russian military bully women and men, regardless of their age and state of health – babies, teenagers and the elderly suffer. They deliberately rape and maim, film it on video and consider the crimes committed almost as their war trophies to their military comrades. Unfortunately, this is not the only case of rape of infants and minors. There was also a case of rape of a 45-year-old man with a disability who was unable to join the resistance forces and stayed at home.
However, very few victims turn to law enforcement agencies. The crimes of Russian military personnel often become known from intercepted telephone calls. Human rights activist Larisa Denisenko notes that all such messages should be carefully studied by law enforcement officers. In those conversations, infidels share stories with their comrades and relatives about their terrible achievements in Ukraine: they talk in detail about violence against women and children, joking about what they have done. For example, the wife of a Russian military man was pretty amused by the story of three tankers who raped a 16-year-old girl.
Schemes journalists identified another Russian couple from a similar intercepted conversation: 27-year-old Roman and Olga Bykovskikh. The wife laughingly allowed the male occupier to “rape Ukrainian women”, only on the condition that they use contraceptives. Investigators found out that this couple has a child and moved to the occupied Crimea from the Oryol region of Russia. Bykovsky was wounded in the Kherson region, and at the end of April he was taken prisoner near Izyum. “People are dying,” another Russian soldier says in a telephone conversation about the atrocities of his army. The word “people” here is difficult to approach the Russian occupiers.
The mentioned cases are drops in the ocean, because their number is growing every day. However, all stories of sexual violence committed by the Russian army in Ukraine have a common “handwriting”: deliberate mockery, the use of sexual violence as a means of torture, gang rape, rape to death, as well as violence against children and adults in front of their relatives, often by force. . This once again confirms the opinion that rape and other sexual crimes of Russians are not a side effect of the war or exclusion, but part of the genocide aimed at the destruction of the Ukrainian people.
Meanwhile, infidels are trying to hide what they have done behind a screen of fakes and disinformation. For example, on April 5, advertisements were widely distributed on social networks about the search for psychologists for raped orphans in Bucha. However, there is no orphanage in Bucha, and the contact “Rusya Dontsova” indicated there is obviously invented. Another time, fakes about the rape of children in Irpin were circulated on social networks. Often, Russian propagandists work according to the old scheme: on a real photo with the victims they huddle the fake signature they need. With such informational throws, the Russian Federation is trying to clean up the crimes of its army in Ukraine and undermine the confidence in Ukraine of other partner countries. Therefore, it is important to disseminate only official proven facts of violence so that they do not go unnoticed in the informational noise.
The crimes of the Russian army in Ukraine amaze with cynicism and the level of hatred towards the victims. Rapists still believe in their own impunity. However, Ukraine will do everything possible to ensure that every Russian infidel is responsible for their deeds. In order for justice to take place, it is very important to report what you or people around you have experienced to law enforcement agencies personally or through those you trust.
29-06-2022 [ Writer Irina Mirochnik is the President at IMMER Group & Doctor of Philosophy in Law(PhD)]
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