Women raped by Russian soldiers yearn for justice.

Every day, Viktoriya has to pass by the house where she was raped by a Russian soldier the same age as her teenage son.

Russian troops arrived in her two-street village, near the Kyiv suburb of Borodianka, in early March. Soon after, she said, two of them raped her and a neighbor, killed two men, including her neighbor’s husband, and destroyed several houses.

“If you don’t think about it all, you can live,” Viktoriya said in an interview in the village on a recent rainy day. “But it’s certainly not forgotten.”

She is cooperating with prosecutors because she says she wants the perpetrators to feel the “lifetime pain” they have left her. “I want them to be punished,” she said.

Whether they will appear is uncertain and can take years to determine. The rapes were among many atrocities the Russian military perpetrated on Ukrainian civilians during the weeks of occupation on the outskirts of Kyiv and elsewhere. But the challenges of prosecuting assaults are tough: Evidence is limited, and victims are traumatized and sometimes reluctant to testify about their assault, if they even do. Most of the accused soldiers had disappeared.

Ukrainian prosecutors say they are investigating thousands of war crimes, including execution-style killings and indiscriminate bombing of civilians. Of those, “dozens” are involved in rapes, said Kateryna Duchenko, who oversees rapes at the Ukrainian prosecutor general’s office – a low percentage representing only a fraction of the suffering. .

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