A Ukrainian woman was raped by a Russian soldier in front of her child, according to a lawmaker who said Ukraine will "not be silent" about crimes committed during Russia's invasion of her country.
Member of Parliament Maria Mezentseva said in a TV interview that the alleged war crime took place in Brovary, an eastern suburb of Kyiv, the Guardian reported. She told the U.K.'s Sky News that the victim's husband was shot dead in his house before the alleged assault.
“There is one case which was very widely discussed recently because it’s been recorded and proceeded with [by] the prosecutor’s office, and we’re not going into details, but it’s quite a scary scene when a civilian was shot dead in his house in a small town next to Kyiv," Mezentseva said.
“His wife was – I’m sorry but I have to say it – raped several times in front of her underage child.”
According to the Guardian, the Russian soldier is believed to have threatened the child after the attack.
Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova has confirmed the alleged attack was reported to authorities and said Wednesday that an arrest warrant has been issued for the soldier.
Mezentseva, who serves as the head of Ukraine's permanent delegation to the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe, said that war crimes committed during the invasion must be recorded. "Justice has to prevail," she said.
She added that sexual assault cases were being underreported.
“There are many more victims rather than just this one case which has been made public by the prosecutor general,” she said. “And of course, we are expecting many more of them, which will be public once victims will be ready to talk about that.
“That’s why you know, when we’ve been talking to Boris Johnson, when we will be talking to your Home Office, when we’ve been talking to MPs of UK, we’ve also raised this issue that this aftermath, which we are dealing with right now, the aftermath of war, has to be taken very cautiously, very seriously, and to take into account the UK experience and experience of other countries, which can help us in dealing with psychologists, and how to help these people to actually live over these cases, to keep going afterwards, to keep living.”
"We will definitely not be silent," she added.
There have been previous reports of sexual assaults committed by Russian soldiers, which is considered a war crime and violation of international humanitarian law.
Earlier in March, Ukraine's Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba alleged there were "numerous cases" of Russian soldiers raping women in Ukraine. Another Ukrainian lawmaker, Lesia Vasylenko, said officials had reports of "women being gang-raped," including "senior citizens," and that "most of these women have either been executed after the crime of rape or they have taken their own lives."
While rape is common in times of war, sexual assaults are difficult to prove, and accusations of rape have been used as a powerful propaganda tool to rally opposition to the enemy.
The U.S. government determined last week that Russian forces have committed war crimes in Ukraine, after a "careful review" of public and intelligence sources transmitting news from the war.
“We’ve seen numerous credible reports of indiscriminate attacks and attacks deliberately targeting civilians, as well as other atrocities. Russia’s forces have destroyed apartment buildings, schools, hospitals, critical infrastructure, civilian vehicles, shopping centers, and ambulances, leaving thousands of innocent civilians killed or wounded,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said.