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Ukraine launches a national sexual assault registry for victims of Russian forces

In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP) In this handout photo provided by the Ukrainian Presidential Press Office, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky speaks during a news conference in Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Jan. 28, 2022. (Ukrainian Presidential Press Office via AP)
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Kyiv, Ukraine -

Authorities in Ukraine have created a national registry to document cases of sexual violence allegedly committed by Russian forces, a senior prosecutor told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Viktoriia Litvinova, the country’s deputy prosecutor general, said that the registry was created out of a pilot project that had already resulted in the convictions of five people in absentia. She declined to comment on details of the cases.

“We used to have to visit territories where hostilities are taking place ourselves,” she said. “But now people – individuals who have experienced sexual abuse – are seeking us out for information.”

Litvinova said 303 cases of conflict-related sexual violence had been registered since the start of the full-scale invasion in early 2022, with 112 involving male and 191 involving female victims. Some of the victims have suffered from multiple assaults, she said.

The initiative was announced on the United Nations’ International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence, and has received assistance from UN agencies and several Western governments.

Government officials said the registry could be used to make claims for financial compensation for the victims from Russia in the future. The five convictions resulted from sexual assault allegations in areas attacked or occupied by Russian forces, in Kyiv and the cities of Kherson and Chernihiv.

Massimo Diana, a representative of the UN Population Fund, said the actual number of victims was likely to be much higher than those in the registry.

“This violence has been perpetrated on women and girls, on men and boys. Nobody has been exempted from the risk of this heinous act,” Diana said.

His agency had assisted in creating 12 support centers around the country for victims of domestic violence and sexual attacks, he said, along with three mobile facilities.

To raise awareness for the program and to encourage victims to come forward, Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna unveiled a painting by artist Julia Tveritina at a gallery and art center in Kyiv.

“The (painting) is of men and women surrounded by yellow rapeseed flowers,” Stefanishyna said. “This flower renews itself after the frost, and it symbolizes hope that all of the survivors may leave their traumatic events in the past.”

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