First rape case against Russian soldier since Ukraine invasion sent to court

A girl sits on a swing outside destroyed buildings during attacks in Irpin outskirts Kyiv, Ukraine Credit: AP

The first rape case against a Russian solider since the invasion of Ukraine has been sent to court in a landmark case.

Ukraine's prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, announced the upcoming case on social media.

She also named the accused as Mikhail Romanov, who is said to have been part of an armoured regiment that attacked areas around Kyiv.

Romanov stands accused of murdering a Ukrainian man then raping his wife.

The case will be the first attempt to secure a rape prosecution since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian soldier will be tried in absentia, owing to the fact that he was never captured by Ukrainian forces.

It would mean he would escape punishment even if he is convicted, unless Ukrainian authorities are able to detain him at a later point.

Ms Vendiktova told the Guardian that the victim was able to identify Romanov from pictures they had seen on social media.

Writing on Facebook she added: "A pressing component of the process of combating rape as a weapon of war is victim cooperation with law enforcement. When victims are ready and feel safe, they can always turn to us for help and protection of the law."

She added: "The Kyiv Regional Prosecutor's Office and the SBU, as part of the investigation of this shameful war crime, found that in March, during the occupation of Brovary district, non-humans broke into a house in one of the villages and shot its master.

"A drunk soldier, along with another occupier, immediately after the murder, raped his wife several times.

"They threatened the woman with weapons and violence even regarding her child, who was with her at the time."

The announcement follows the conviction of a Russian soldier, Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, who was sentenced to to life in prison for killing a Ukrainian civilian in the first war crimes trial since the start of Moscow's invasion.

Shishimarin, 21, was convicted of killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelypov in the north-eastern Sumy region on February 28, four days into the invasion.

He admitted shooting Mr Shelypov in the head through an open car window, but said he had been acting on orders.

During the trial, Shishimarin asked the widow of Mr Shelypov to forgive him.

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