Ukraine authorities discuss mass burial site in Izyum
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A Ukrainian great-grandmother has bravely told of being beaten and raped by an old Russian soldier after he entered her home. 75-year-old Lyudmila said she had her nose broken and her stomach cut in the depraved encounter.
After surviving the horrendous ordeal, she said: “[Vladimir] Putin and the Russians will never be forgiven.”
Since the invasion of Ukraine began over eight months ago, a litany of war crimes and horrific human rights abuses at the hands of Russian soldiers have been reported.
Included among the accounts are many of women and children being raped and murdered.
After months of successful counterattacks from the Ukrainian armed forces, which forced Putin’s men into humiliating retreats, the Russian military has responded by again targeting civilian population centres and infrastructure.
Earlier this month, a UN inquiry into the war found that “war crimes, violations of human rights and international humanitarian law have been committed in Ukraine” since the invasion began – the “vast majority” of which Russian troops were responsible for.
Lyudmila told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “One night, I heard a very loud knock at my window. I saw a soldier there.
“When I opened the door, he immediately punched me in the face, knocked out two of my teeth and broke my nose. I was covered with blood.”
The great-grandmother said the soldier who broke into her home in the village of Myroliubivka, in between Kyiv and Mykolaiv, appeared to be in his sixties – just a handful of years younger than her.
After the initial invasion was mired in disorganisation and miscommunication, tens of thousands of Russians are believed to have been killed in Putin’s war.
Since then, the Russian President has called up retired servicemen, before issuing a partial mobilisation of 300,000 fighting-age men. Many Russian communities have resisted, and tens of thousands are believed to have fled the country.
Lyudmila continued: “He started beating me in the chest with his rifle butt. He pulled my hair, threw me on to the sofa and began to strangle me.
“Then he began to undress me and after, he raped me.”
She added: “He cut my stomach. Until now, I have scars on my stomach. The deep ones still haven’t healed.”
Lyudmila said the soldier beat her for hours through the night, peppering her house with bullets, before leaving at dawn.
She later fled her home with her family, and said during the hours of torture thought of them.
The elderly woman remarked: “I said goodbye to my children, my grandchildren and my great-grandchildren.
“I never thought I would stay alive. Putin and the Russians will never be forgiven. There will be no forgiveness.”
The latest UN report on the dreadful crimes committed during the invasion revealed Lyudmila was not the only elderly woman to face an inhumane attack by occupying soldiers.
It said the Commission assessing evidence “documented patterns of summary executions, unlawful confinement, torture, ill-treatment, rape and other sexual violence committed in areas occupied by Russian armed forces”.
It added: “Sexual violence has affected victims of all ages. Victims, including children, were sometimes forced to witness the crimes.”
The report found that victims of rape at the hands of Russian soldiers ranged from four years old to over the age of 80.
In one instance, an 83-year-old woman recounted that while her village was under occupation, she was raped by a Russian serviceman in her house while her physically disabled husband was present.
In another location, neighbours found the body of an elderly woman, partially undressed and with blood around her vagina.
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