Teenage sisters 'raped' as horrors from Ukrainian town cut off for 35 days emerge
The relief of those who had endured 35 days of Russian occupation was obvious - but it is only when you hear what they have gone through that you can understand the trauma they have experienced, as Correspondent Dan Rivers reports
Two sisters were raped in one of the worst cases to emerge from a small Ukrainian town only just reconnected with the outside world after 35 days of Russian occupation.
Ivankiv was finally opened to the rest of the country after more than a month of control by Vladimir Putin's forces, thanks to Ukrainian army engineers who built a pontoon bridge.
While the reunion came as a relief to its liberated residents, accounts of their trauma have sent shockwaves through the country.
Maryna Beschastna, the town’s deputy mayor, recounted grim accounts she’d been told of how Russian soldiers treated women in the area.
“There was a case in one village, two sister were raped… girls of 15 and 16… children,” she said.
“Women were pulled by their hair out of their basements, so that they could abuse them. Girls started cutting their hair short to be less attractive, so no one looks at them anymore.”
The streets of Ivankiv are not heavily damaged in parts - but the psychological trauma is serious, as Correspondent Dan Rivers reports from Ukraine
One of the town’s residents, Elena Skoropad, recounted to ITV News how her 12-year-old son was killed and how she tried desperately to save him.
Ms Skoropad recalled how she scooped an injured Artem into her arms after he was hit by shrapnel, describing his wounds in graphic detail.
The schoolboy was a keen basketball player, she said. His mother and stepfather, Sasha, had tried to flee but they say a cluster munition exploded and peppered them with shrapnel.
“On the way here in the car Artem was shouting all the way mum, Sasha, I love you,” Ms Skoropad said.
“These were his words, then he kept saying his legs were hurting, his back was hurting. When we brought him [to the hospital] he was still alive but then the injuries were incompatible with life.”
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The hospital is full of those injured from the shooting, shelling and mines, who are thankful there are now medical supplies.
For more than a month doctors here worked with almost nothing. “We worked without electricity, without water,” one trauma surgeon said.
Twenty miles to the south, the town of Borodyanka has been hollowed out by Russian missiles and artillery.
Below the charred cliff faces of what were once apartment blocks, a police team has the grim task of recovering the remains of the inhabitants.
In one back garden, the true depravity of the occupation became clear. One man was found not only humiliated but also horribly tortured, with his head bound in plastic.
The killing and destruction appeared to the ITV News team present to be wanton and designed to terrorise a population into submission.
On Tuesday, in an address to the UN Security Council, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of committing the worst war crimes since WWII, alleging that forces raped mothers in front of their children and said the invaders had "killed entire families, adults and children and they tried to burn the bodies" and accused them of "wide-scale looting".