Ukraine is expected to hold a preliminary hearing on Thursday in its first trial of a Russian soldier accused of raping a Ukrainian woman throughout Russia’s invasion, the first of potentially dozens of such cases. According to court documents, the suspect, Mikhail Romanov, 32, who is not in Ukrainian custody and will be tried in court, is accused of murdering a civilian in the Kyiv capital region on March 9 and then repetitively raping the man’s wife.
The Russian Defense Ministry did not respond immediately to a written seeking comment, and Reuters was unable to contact the soldier. Moscow has denied any involvement in war crimes.
Romanov is charged with raping a 33-year-old woman after he and some other Russian soldier shot her husband Oleksiy in the village of Bohdanivka, northeast of Kyiv, at point blank range.
According to court documents, the two soldiers then left and returned twice more to rape her. The identity of the second soldier had yet to be determined.
It was unclear what type of legal depiction Romanov would have at the trial, which will take place behind closed doors.
According to a prosecutor working on sexual violence cases, up to 50 such crimes are being investigated, but the number of instances of sexual violence by Russian soldiers since Feb. 24 is likely to be significantly higher.
Many survivors, according to officials, activists, and doctors, are afraid or unwilling to come forward with their cases to police and prosecutors for fear of retaliation from Russia and stigma from there own Ukrainian neighbours.
According to a spokesperson for the Prosecutor General’s office, a prosecutor may make public comments about the trial following Thursday’s hearing.
Ukraine says it is looking into thousands of possible war crimes committed during Russia’s invasion, which began on February 24. According to Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, many of the suspects are in Russia, and some have been taken hostage by Ukraine as prisoners of war.