- A Russian soldier accused of rape is being tried in Ukraine, the first such case since Russia invaded.
- Mikhail Romanov is accused of murdering a man and raping his wife in the Kyiv region.
- Any conviction would likely be symbolic as Ukraine never captured Romanov.
A Russian soldier has been charged with murdering a Ukrainian man and raping his wife, Ukrainian prosecutors said, and is due to stand trial in a landmark case.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova announced the upcoming case on social media on Monday, noting that it was the first attempt to secure a rape prosecution from Russia’s invasion.
Venediktova named the accused as Mikhail Romanov, whom she said was part of a tank division that attacked the towns and villages around Kyiv.
—Iryna Venediktova (@VenediktovaIV) May 30, 2022
In a Facebook post, translated from Ukrainian by Insider, Venediktova said Romanov was never captured, and so would be tried in his absence.
This would leave Ukraine unable to punish Romanov without capturing hm first, even if he were convicted.
Venediktova said Romanov and other Russian troops broke into a house in Brovary, part of the Kyiv region, in March.
She wrote that the men men “broke into a house in one of the villages and shot its owner. A drunk soldier, along with another occupier, immediately after the murder, raped his wife several times.
“They threatened the woman with weapons and violence even regarding her child, who was with her at the time.
“Even though the accused is not currently in our hands, he will not escape a fair trial and accountability before the law.”
The account matches a previous incident described by prosecutors in March, which at the time was still under investigation. No suspect was named in the earlier account.
Venediktova told The Guardian earlier in May that the victim was able to identify Romanov from pictures on social media.
Venediktova told the publication that Ukrainian authorities did not know what happened to him, suggesting he may have been sent back to Russia, could still be fighting in Ukraine, or could have been killed.
The Guardian said it had contacted Romanov’s apparent partner for comment but received no response. Insider was unable to locate any means of contacting Romanov.
The announcement came after a Russian soldier pleaded guilty in Kyiv to murdering a 62-year-old Ukrainian man.
That trial, the first of a Russian accused of any war crime in the invasion, ended in 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin being sentenced to life in prison.
Ukrainian authorities say they have recorded 10,000 war crimes committed by Russian forces during the three-month invasion of Ukraine, including hundreds cases of rape and sexual violence.
In one of the most shocking cases, Ukrainian officials said that Russian soldiers raped a one-year-old boy, who later died of his injuries.
Investigators with the International Criminal Court are working with Ukrainian officials to gather evidence of possible war crimes. Russia has issued repeated blanket denials that its troops target civilians in any way.