The Ukrainian mother pointed to the grubby grey sofa in the corner in a small room of her neighbor’s house and said that it was the place where a teenager Russian soldier had raped her.
It took place in an evening of terror and cruelty, as well as murder, in a rural village just outside Kyiv.
Vika, 42 years old, stated that she chose to speak on camera about the attack to encourage other victims of rape in Ukraine to discuss what Russian forces did.
She told Sky News that she wanted women who had been raped – she knows there are many – to speak out.
“You must talk. They [the Russian soldiers] must be punished.”
At least 10 active rape investigations are underway in Ukraine involving Russian forces. Many more are pending, including allegations of rapes against children.
This is a delicate and sensitive job because many victims are too traumatized to speak out or unwilling to report an attack, according to Kateryna Pavlichenko, deputy interior minister.
Her ministry is not content with waiting for people to come forward. Instead, it has created special police teams to educate local communities on how to report war crimes including sexual violence by Russian soldiers.
Ms Pavlichenko stated, “Unambiguously, I want to state that this weapon is used in war conditions.”
“We will take all measures necessary to ensure these crimes are recorded, transferred to international institutions, and considered by an International Tribunal.”
Russia denies that its soldiers have raped women.
Vika has to accept the fact that a Russian soldier named Daniel, 19, did to Vika on the night 9 March.
Natasha, a 44-year-old neighbor, was also raped at the house by the second soldier who had first killed her husband.
Oleg, 21 was the soldier’s name.
She also agreed to talk about her experience.
Both women claimed that it started after dark when they were both at their homes on the same quiet street.
As part of a failed push to Kyiv, Russian forces occupied the village.
Three Russian soldiers smelling of alcohol knocked at Vika’s door around 9 or 10 p.m. and demanded she go with them
She was afraid for her life and had to follow her instincts.
The group went to a second house, but they decided not to go.
Oleg fired a gunshot around this time. The bullet grazed the leg and was later identified as the commander. He sought medical attention.
Vika and the other servicemen accompanied Vika on their way to Natasha’s house.
Vika claimed that Natasha’s husband Sasha answered the door to Oleg. Oleg pointed his gun at Vika and stated that he wanted his wife.
Sasha advised him to leave and said that Oleg wouldn’t kill him, as he was also Russian.
He turned to go back in his house but the young soldier opened fire, shooting Sasha in her neck. He fell to the ground.
The soldier then woke Natasha up and forced her to go outside.
Two women were taken to the same house from which they had fled. The owners had fled shortly before the outbreak of war. The group entered through an unclosed window.
Oleg took Natasha upstairs while Vika was shoved downstairs.
Vika returned to the scene and looked at the couch where she had been assaulted.
It is placed against a wall in baby pink with a cherry blossom print in the corner.
In a single monologue, she recounted the story of the rape. She spoke clearly and accurately, her voice was strong and only occasionally interrupted by a quick cough.
Daniel, 19 years old, was the same age of the younger of her sons.
Vika claimed she tried to talk with him, but he told Vika to stop distracting him and to just “do her work”. She was warned that she would be executed if she didn’t cooperate.
Vika claimed that she was raped several times.
She said that he treated her not like a mother or woman, but rather, as a prostitute. He was extremely aggressive… “He was very aggressive… Maybe he took some other drugs. He was insane. Thank God that he didn’t kill me, and I was [ultimately] free.”
Oleg also raped Natasha while he was sleeping on a bed in an upstairs bedroom.
Since then, she has fled to Austria along with her teenage son.
Natasha spoke by telephone to Sky News and said that Oleg had warned her that her son would suffer if she didn’t comply.
She said, “At that time, I thought only about my son so he wouldn’t kill me.”
She described feeling like a dead corpse, and she didn’t know what to do.
According to her, the rape took about an hour and a half. The soldier then went downstairs to search for Daniel, but he was not there. The soldier fled the scene as well.
Natasha claimed that she walked home broken and only to find an even greater trauma: the realization of her husband dead on the small stone floor in their entrance hall.
“How did you feel?” I sat down until the morning. She said, “I couldn’t sleep”; her voice was steady and her sentences were short.
Fearful of being attacked and killed, both women had to remain in the village. The Russian forces held the village until March’s end.
Natasha’s mother Valentina (65), lived with Natasha. She said that soldiers would rotate every few day, with new troops coming in. After hearing the shocking news about Daniel and Oleg, she said that a second unit was shocked.
After all Russian troops had retreated in the larger withdrawal of the north of Ukraine’s, Vika and Natasha could give evidence to police and prosecutors regarding the attacks.
Both want their rapists to be caught and punished.
A group of prosecutors visited Vika’s house in the last week.
Russian troops ransacked the once-smart home of the family, destroying furniture and rooms, and using it as a base for their squalid activities.
An assortment of empty alcohol bottles and a large glass bowl containing cigarette bits are found on the floor near the front door. The belongings of the family that owns the property litter every room.
In a chaotic mess, clothes, books, toys for children, and even Monopoly cards, are scattered about. A wall in the hall is covered with graffiti. It appears to also identify the name and rank of the village’s military unit.
Vika recorded her testimony with the prosecution team at house. It will be used in future criminal proceedings.
They are currently building a case and have collected DNA evidence from the property to help them identify the suspects.
According to one of the involved prosecutors, some of the war crimes Russia was accused of having committed appear to have been isolated acts of soldiers. However, in other cases, there was an order from the commander that allowed criminality.
Valeri Zymoglyad from the Office of Prosecutor-General of Ukraine stated that the goal was to increase morale. The troops should feel they are winners and can commit any crime they want without being held accountable.
Vika and Nastasha are still traumatized by the horrors of 9 March.
Natasha said, “It’s very difficult,” while speaking from her refuge in Austria.
“Not everyone can endure this. I am blessed with a son and I don’t want to wait to feel sorry for myself.”
Vika was given a small dog by one of her family members. He is a comfort, she said. “I have a bad sleep. “I have a bad feeling in my stomach… lots of tears.”
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