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New Evidence Found of Rape and Torture by Russian Forces in Ukraine

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A United Nations commission has found new evidence that Russian forces committed war crimes in Ukraine, including deliberate killings, rape and the removal of Ukrainian children, according to a report released on Friday. Victim testimonies also asserted the systematic and widespread use of torture in several Russian detention facilities, the report said.

Drawing on more than 450 interviews with victims and witnesses in areas liberated by Ukrainian troops or who have fled Russian-held territory, the report documents the use of electric shocks against prisoners accused of supporting Ukrainian forces, the rape of women ranging in age from 16 to 83 and the transfer of unaccompanied Ukrainian children to Russian territory.

The report, by a panel commissioned by the U.N. Human Rights Council, focused on the southern regions of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia, where Russian forces quickly seized territory at the start of their full-scale invasion last year. Unlike north-central Ukraine, which Kyiv’s forces have liberated, allowing investigators to more quickly uncover crimes by Russian forces, parts of those two regions remain under Moscow’s control and are largely inaccessible to international organizations. That has complicated investigations and stoked fears that the millions of people living there are at risk of human rights abuses.

Testimonies in the report painted a damning picture of life under Russian occupation, with the commission saying in a statement that acts of “rape and other sexual violence were often committed together with additional acts of violence against the victims, including severe beatings, strangling, suffocating, slashing, shooting next to the head of the victim and willful killing.”

Ukrainian forces have also been accused of abuses, and the report documents three cases of mistreatment of Ukrainians who had been accused of collaborating with Russia. Previous U.N. reports have described abuse of Russian prisoners of war by Ukrainians.

But prosecutors and human rights groups say that those examples are nowhere near the scale of the crimes committed by Russian forces, which include the execution of residents in Bucha and indiscriminate attacks on civilians with missiles and rockets.

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