Two Russians To Be Tried for Multiple Rapes
Accused men planned and carried out a series of assaults over a single day during the occupation of a Brovary district village.
Two Russian soldiers have been indicted for a campaign of sexual violence in the Kyiv region in March 2022 which involved 12 victims including a pregnant woman and two minors.
The Brovary Court of the Kyiv region began the preparatory stage in the case of Yevgeny Chornoknizhny and Vadim Shakhmatov, both snipers.
Due to the sensitivity of the case, the investigation does not say where exactly the crimes were committed. It is known that it concerns people in a settlement in the Baryshiv territorial community of the Brovary district of Kyiv region. This territory, 70 kilometres from Kyiv, was controlled by the Russian military from February 28 to March 30, 2022. The investigation noted that among the forces present were servicemen of the 15th Separate Guards Motorised Rifle Brigade of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation from military unit No. 90600, which is stationed in the Samara region.
At that time, 30-year-old Shakhmatov and 27-year-old Chornoknizhny were senior snipers of the rifle company of this brigade.
According to the investigation, at the beginning of March, the accused went to houses of local civilians, checked who lived in them and demanded alcohol and cigarettes. Then Shakhmatov and Chornoknizhny identified some addresses where young women lived.
The series of sexual offences took place on March 13 from approximately 11:30 am to 4 pm. Shakhmatov and Chornoknizhny were drunk and had identified half-a-dozen households that they allegedly planned to target. The names and exact ages of the victims were not included in the investigation.
The men first broke into the home of a couple with a young child. They forced the woman to go into the kitchen, where they took turns raping her while the other guarded the husband with a machine gun. Shakhmatov forced him to watch his wife being raped, beating him so that he could not resist. This incident was estimated to have lasted 30 minutes.
Then Shakhmatov went to the room where the couple’s young daughter was. Although the investigation did not give her age, according to the official press service of the prosecutor's office the girl was four years old. Shakhmatov carried out a series of sexual assaults on the young girl while Chornoknizhny held the girl's parents at gunpoint in the kitchen.
Returning to the kitchen, Shakhmatov tried to rape the owner's wife once again but, according to the pre-trial investigation materials he "did not carry out his intention for reasons beyond his control”.
According to the investigation, the defendants then went to a house where another two families lived. They intimidated the elderly owner of the house, firing a machine gun several times into the air and holding the weapon to his head, threatening to shoot him.
After that, Shakhmatov and Chornoknizhny took turns raping a pregnant woman and a girl who were also in the house.
Their next target was another home where a man was working in the front yard. To intimidate him, Chornoknizhny pointed his machine gun at him, then fired around a dozen shots in the air.
Shakhmatov meanwhile entered the house and ordered the woman who lived there to go with him from the kitchen into another room.
However, the woman seized a household knife and said that if Shakhmatov tried to approach her, she would injure both herself and him. Apparently due to this unexpected resistance, the Russian soldiers left.
About an hour later, the accused men broke into another house where, in addition to the residents, several villagers were hiding in the basement from shelling. The defendants intimidated the elderly women and ordered the men to lie face down on the floor.
They ordered one woman and her minor daughter to go to separate rooms, where they were both raped.
Later, at around 4 pm, both accused returned to the house where they had previously raped a pregnant woman and a minor. Threatening to kill their relatives, they forced these women to go with them to a neighbouring house, where they were again repeatedly raped.
Shakhmatov and Chornoknizhny were declared wanted and in March of this year, they were informed in absentia about the suspicion against them. On August 9, the Pechersk District Court of Kyiv gave permission for a special pre-trial investigation. The accused face eight to 12 years in prison if convicted.
In April last year, Russian media reported the death during combat of a sniper named Yevgeny Chornoknizhny, born in the village of Chebotaryovo in the Orenburg region of the Russian Federation - the same details as one of the accused in this case.
The court materials from the pre-trial investigation do not mention this potential development, only reporting that the accused man was redeployed from the Kyiv oblast to the occupied Donetsk region.
Given the specifics and sensitivity of the case, the prosecution will ask for the case to be heard in closed session. Lawyers from the Free Legal Aid Centre were appointed for the defendants and as required under Ukrainian law, the Russian soldiers will be summoned. The hearing in the case is scheduled for October 24.
According to the latest data, 235 cases of conflict-related sexual violence have already been recorded in Ukraine, most in the Kherson region.
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