Ukraine to begin first trial of Russian soldier accused of rape

Ukraine will hold a preliminary hearing in its first trial of a Russian soldier charged with raping a Ukrainian woman during Russia’s invasion.

A spokesperson for the Prosecutor-General’s office said the suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, who is not in Ukrainian custody and will be tried in absentia, is accused of murdering a civilian in the Kyiv capital region on March 9 and then repeatedly raping the man’s wife.

Romanov is accused of raping a 33-year-old woman after he and another Russian soldier shot her husband Oleksiy at point blank in the village of Bohdanivka to the northeast of Kyiv.

The court files said the two soldiers then left and later returned twice more to rape her.

The identity of the second soldier had not been established.

It was not immediately clear what kind of legal representation Romanov would have at the trial, which will be held behind closed doors.

A prosecutor working on sexual violence cases said that up to 50 such crimes were being investigated, but the number of instances of sexual violence by Russian soldiers since Feb. 24, was likely to be substantially higher.

Officials, activists and doctors have said that many survivors are afraid or unwilling to come forward to the police and prosecutors with their cases, for fear of reprisals from Russia and stigma from their Ukrainian neighbours.

Ukraine says it is investigating thousands of potential war crimes committed during the Russian invasion.

Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova said many of the suspects are in Russia and some have been taken captive by Ukraine as prisoners of war. (Reuters/NAN)

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