“Scars of War” in Ukraine
Even if only a fraction of this is true, it should be a major concern for Christians. We should continue to lift up Ukraine in prayer.
From CNN. Day after day, in town after town, a police officer and prosecutor go door to door in Ukraine’s Kherson region.
Treading muddy streets, past homes damaged by artillery strikes, they look for those left behind. The two men form a specialist unit that’s traveled from the capital, Kyiv.
A mother and daughter come out to their yard. “We are looking for sexual crimes,” the prosecutor, Oleksandr Kleshchenko, says.
Until early October, this area of the country was occupied by Russian troops. …
The scars of war run deep here. Russia has used sexual violence as a “weapon of war” – a deliberate “military strategy” – in its conquest of Ukraine, United Nations investigators have said. They have even relayed allegations of Russian soldiers carrying Viagra.
Russian authorities have denied accusations of war crimes in Ukraine.
In two weeks of work in the Kherson region, the team from Kyiv has documented six allegations of sexual assault. The real number is almost certainly much higher, they say.
Tatiana, age 56, says she is one of the victims. CNN is withholding her last name and that of her village to protect her identity.
Walking over broken glass, she shows us into her brother’s house, where she says two Russian soldiers forced their way through her door on August 26.
“They walked around those rooms,” she says. “One stayed there, and the other one, who raped me, came in here.” …
She spent three days at home, in a daze, too ashamed to step outside. Then, in an extraordinary act of bravery, she says she confronted the Russian soldier’s commander.
“His commander found the head of his unit. He came to see me and told me, ‘I punished him severely, I broke his jaw, but the most severe punishment is ahead.’ Like shooting. The commander asked me, ‘Do you mind this?’ I said, ‘I don’t mind, I wish all of them will be shot.’” …
In these liberated villages, nearly every building has been damaged by war. Many homes were reduced to rubble.
At their first stop on the day CNN accompanied the investigators, in Bila Krynytsya, a crowd waiting for food handouts surrounded the prosecutor.
The village was behind Russian lines, but never directly occupied. Those gathered round shout that they’ve been abandoned for months, with no help from either Russia or Ukraine. …
Despite the dissatisfaction of these villagers, Ukraine’s counteroffensive in this part of the country has buoyed public hopes that victory might actually be possible – or at least that Kyiv might liberate key Russian-held cities, such as Kherson. …
As the sun sets at the end of a long day, the two-man team arrives in Novovoznesens’ke, a village where they’ve uncovered two more cases of rape, allegedly by Russian soldiers. The next day, they return to Kyiv, to submit their findings.
Of course, many of these allegations will be impossible to prove; many do not even have a suspect. For now, the team files its reports, and its investigators continue their work, hoping to be able to file charges in the future.
The United Nations says it has investigated cases in Ukraine of “sexual and gender-based violence” against people ranging from 4 to 82 years old. As of September, 43 criminal proceedings had been initiated, according to the UN. …
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(Excerpt from CNN. Photo Credit: Getty Images)
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