“I was not the first”: raped by a Russian soldier, she has him convicted in court

A 20-year-old Ukrainian girl will never be able to forget the invasion of her village by Russian soldiers, but she does not intend to let her traumas rule her life.

Karina remembers the hand he put on her back as he pushed her into the dark attic room. That’s when the Russian soldier pointed a gun at her, while pushing her further into the black depths of the small bombed room.

Standing a few inches from her, his breath still heavy with whiskey, the Russian soldier pointed his gun at her head, threatening to kill her if she did not undress in front of him.

Karina, with trembling hands, followed his orders, knowing that if she tried to fight him like she desperately wanted to, she would never see her mother’s face again.

“And then he raped me,” Karina tells the Daily Mail, her voice hesitant when she remembers what happened on March 11, 2022.

“After he finished, he told me he would come back and kill me if I told anyone how he raped me,” she continued.

Karina was 20 years old when Putin’s men arrived in her village in huge tanks on March 8, 2022. Minutes after their arrival, they terrorized the families who lived there and invaded their homes.

If she had considered the bombings, Karina had not imagined the horrors that the Russian soldiers would inflict on her.

Artillery fire

On the second day, they began going door to door and moving into families’ homes, sometimes holding them hostage.

“When the Ukrainian soldiers started firing artillery at the Russians near our village, they blamed my boyfriend and me for revealing their positions,” says Karina.

That’s when a soldier took her out of her home, accusing her of informing the Ukrainian army about Russian positions.

He dragged her to her neighbor’s abandoned house, where her nightmare began.

“I remember seeing used condoms scattered on the floor. I understood that I was not the first to be taken there,” says Karina.

After questioning her, then raping her, the soldier threatened her that he would do it again if the bombings did not stop.

In the days that followed, Karina, who initially tried to keep her head above water, burst into tears.

“At one point I broke down and cried for hours. I had the impression of being dirty, of being a shame,” she confides.

Run away at all costs

However, she quickly regained her calm, as the prospect of further bombings forced her to act.

“I decided there would be no next time. I knew I had to do something,” says Karina.

Under cover of darkness, she and her boyfriend escaped from their home and walked for miles through fields, forests and railway tracks until they reached a nearby village in the area from Kyiv.

It was there that she found refuge with a close friend who helped her report the rape to the national police and prosecutors when her village was liberated a few weeks later.

Karina says her relationship with her boyfriend didn’t last because he was angry with her for telling her friends and family what happened to her.

“It really affected our relationship,” laments Karina, who struggles to explain why her boyfriend was not on her side.

“He wanted me to keep silent and not talk about it,” she saddens.

Instead, Karina hopes that by telling her story of survival and the horrors she witnessed and endured, other women will come forward to testify about what happened to them.

“It’s very important not to remain silent, because the soldiers who did this will live a normal life if we don’t say anything, and that’s not fair,” she says.

Identify your rapist

Karina says that when she reported the rape to prosecutors, they provided her with photos of Russian soldiers who had invaded her village.

“I was able to identify the soldier who had raped me. They also had DNA samples which proved that it was he who had done this to me,” recounts the young woman.

Karina was present in court when the soldier was found guilty. The latter, however, was convicted in absentia, which means that he will probably never find himself behind bars.

The young woman has since taken control of her life. She notably married the love of her life in December and has benefited for 20 months from the advice of psychologists from the Andreiev Family Foundation.

Karina now works as a case manager in the Andreiev Family Foundation’s Assisto project, where she helps survivors of sexual violence.

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