How Putin’s troops are raping and torturing Ukrainian MEN as well as women: Horrors endured by male prisoners are revealed… and it is feared many more victims will be uncovered

Russian soldiers have raped and tortured men as well as women in Ukraine as a weapon of war to ‘destroy’ the population for generations to come, international activists and lawyers have revealed.

Some Ukrainian men who were detained by Russian soldiers in the Kherson region were raped with sticks while others were tortured with electrical shocks to their genitals, experts say.

The stigma surrounding wartime sexual violence and Ukraine’s conservative society means it can be particularly challenging for male rape victims to report what happened to them. 

While there are hundreds of cases of Ukrainian women being raped by Russian soldiers as part of a pattern of systematic sexual violence since the full-scale invasion began in February 2022, there is very little documentation of men being raped.

But activists who help survivors of wartime sexual violence and torture say there are cases of both men and women having been abused by Russian soldiers.  

‘It’s not just women who are being raped, we have cases with men as well,’ says Anna Orel, a project coordinator at the Andreiev Family Foundation’s Assisto project where she helps survivors of rape in Ukraine. 

‘In the Kherson region, there were men who were tortured with electrical shocks to their genitals,’ Ms Orel tells MailOnline. ‘They tortured them and raped them with sticks and other objects. We work with men but it’s very complicated because they don’t want to talk about what happened to them.’ 

And there are fears that thousands of Ukrainians are still being raped and tortured by Russian soldiers in occupied areas of Ukraine. 

Ukrainian medics and psychologists from the Assisto project support a rape victim in Ukraine

Rescuers work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Novohrodivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine on November 30

Rescuers work at a site of a residential building heavily damaged by a Russian missile strike in Novohrodivka, Donetsk region, Ukraine on November 30

It will only be when these areas are liberated by Ukrainian soldiers and Vladimir Putin’s men are forced to retreat that the true scale of the horrors will be uncovered, international lawyers say. 

But they believe that the same war crimes to emerge from Bucha and Kherson after Russian soldiers retreated will be happening ‘on a daily basis’ in areas such as Mariupol, which has been under occupation for 19 months. 

‘Unfortunately, I think we are still only seeing the tip of the iceberg,’ Yulia Gorbunova, a lawyer and senior researcher for Human Rights Watch, tells MailOnline.

‘It’s becoming increasingly difficult to get information out of these occupied areas like Mariupol but I do believe that the horrific abuses that we’ve seen before are still happening there on a daily basis and that we will find more and more evidence of war crimes going on.’

There are fears that the number of victims could go into the thousands – and the longer Russian soldiers occupy cities, towns and villages, the more war crimes will be uncovered.

‘I fear that there will be hundreds if not thousands more victims of torture and sexual violence that we will find once Russian soldiers are forced to retreat,’ says Ms Orel. 

‘But because we can’t reach the victims in these occupied areas, it’s impossible to know the real number,’ Ms Orel adds.

Ukrainian lawyer Anna Mykytenko, who is assisting Ukraine’s prosecutors, has the same fears. ‘The longer Russian soldiers occupy an area, the more victims and crimes we will uncover,’ she says. 

‘We can make an early assessment that there will be thousands of victims of war crimes and that’s based on what happened in the Kyiv region, which was occupied for a month, and then what happened in the Kherson region,’ Ms Myktenko, a lawyer at the international human rights law firm Global Rights Compliance, says.

She says that there’s no evidence to suggest that Russian soldiers will have stopped terrorising civilians and committing war crimes.

‘There is no indicator that this could have been a possibility, and I believe the more territories to be liberated in the coming months, then the more crimes will be uncovered,’ Ms Myktenko explains.

Julian Elderfield, a human rights lawyer who travelled to Kyiv in late 2022 with Global Rights Compliance to support the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office, agrees and says war crimes will still be being committed in occupied areas of Ukraine.

‘I believe that these war crimes will be happening in other parts of Ukraine where Russia still has control,’ Elderfield says.

‘If Ukraine is able to liberate those areas and investigate those crimes, I believe they will find evidence of war crimes such as rape and torture. The numbers will probably be in the thousands.’

But for now, it’s impossible to know the full scale of the war crimes being committed against Ukrainian civilians by Russian soldiers in occupied areas.

The testimonies of rape and torture victims reveal the harrowing experiences of those who were trapped under Russian occupation – and how wartime sexual violence is a tactic of war for Putin’s men.

A man inspects a flat damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, on November 28

A man inspects a flat damaged by recent shelling in Donetsk, Ukraine, on November 28 

Karina, 22, (pictured) told MailOnline how a Russian soldier dragged her from her home and raped her in her neighbour's abandoned house

Karina, 22, (pictured) told MailOnline how a Russian soldier dragged her from her home and raped her in her neighbour’s abandoned house

Karina, 22, told MailOnline how a Russian soldier dragged her from her home and into her neighbour’s abandoned house where he raped her at gunpoint. 

She had been 20 when Putin’s men arrived in her village in huge tanks on March 8, 2022. Within minutes of arriving, they had terrorised the families who lived there, invaded their homes and stole from them. 

Karina, who worked as a medical worker at a hospital when the war broke out, recalls how on the third day furious Russian soldiers had gone house to house to seize their mobile phones and computers after Ukrainian artillery began firing at their positions.

Karina, her voice now hushed, remembers how the Russian soldiers had forced their way into her home and shot at her boyfriend before they snatched their phones away from them. 

‘When the Ukrainian military began firing artillery at the Russians near our village, they blamed me and my boyfriend for giving away their positions,’ Karina says. ”They shot at my boyfriend with a gun and missed him by inches to scare him.’

‘The Russian soldiers took me out of my home and blamed me, they accused me of transferring data about their location to our Ukrainian military,’ Karina says, recalling how one soldier began hauling her across the yard away from the other soldiers to her neighbour’s abandoned home, not knowing what would happen to her.

The soldier dragged her up to the small and dark attic before slamming the door behind them. 

‘I remember seeing used condoms strewn across the floor. I understood that I wasn’t the first to be taken there,’ Karina said. 

‘He pointed the gun at me and kept shouting at me that I’d been sending messages to the Ukrainian military about their location,’ Karina says. ‘He kept cocking the trigger and threatening to kill me. And then he pointed the gun at my head and told me to start to undress.’

‘And then he raped me,’ Karina says. ‘After he was done, he said he would rape me again and that he would kill me if the shelling from the Ukrainian military started again.’

‘I remember him saying with such hatred “I will kill you” if I told anybody – even other Russian soldiers – about how he had raped me. He said I must keep silent and not tell anybody.’

But a defiant Karina did just that – she told her closest family and boyfriend about what the Russian soldier did to her. In the days that followed, Karina says she showed no emotion and felt numb. 

Another Ukrainian woman suffered a similar horrific fate. She was gang-raped by Russian soldiers at gunpoint in front of her six-year-old daughter before they subjected the little girl to the same horrific abuse.

Russian soldiers also gang-raped a 22-year-old mother, sexually abused her husband and made the couple have sex in front of them before raping their four-year-old daughter in the Kyiv region. 

Two Russian snipers – Yevgeny Chernoknizhniy, 27, and Vadim Shakhmatov, 31, are accused of committing the horrific crimes against the family and are set to face trial in a Ukrainian court. 

A formal indictment has been sent by Ukrainian state prosecutors to the court and they will be tried –  Shakhmatov in absentia and Chernoknizhniy posthumously after he died in the war – for multiple acts of rape and using sexual violence as a weapon of war.

Another mother was raped by Russian soldiers while they forced her teenage son to watch – a common tactic by Putin’s men to traumatise generations of Ukrainians – while one woman was raped for several hours by an officer after he dragged her to an abandoned classroom in Kharkiv.

Yevgeny Chernoknizhniy

Vadim Shakhmatov

Two Russian snipers accused of gang raping a mother at gunpoint in front of her husband are to face trial in a Ukrainian court. 27-year-old Yevgeny Chernoknizhniy (left) will be tried posthumously, while 31-year-old Vadim Shakhmatov (right) will be tried in absentia

While there are also reports of men being raped by Russian soldiers, experts suggest it is more common for them to be tortured while in detention. Often, the men are tortured with electrical shocks that are attached to their genitals. 

Ukrainians Roman and Olexiy told MailOnline how they were taken by Russian soldiers to a torture chamber in Kherson after they were caught putting Ukrainian flags along their street to mark Ukraine’s Independence Day in August last year.  

For months, the two neighbours were beaten to within an inch of their lives, tortured with electrical shocks to their ears and genitals, waterboarded and had guns placed on their temples as part of mock executions. 

‘I can’t even describe the pain. It’s like nothing I’ve ever felt,’ Roman said. ‘I don’t know how long the torture would go on for, time had no meaning then.’

Ms Orel said she knew of other men who were tortured in Kherson. ‘In one case, they put a Ukrainian man in a shower and started to torture him with electrical shocks to his genitals. They wanted him to suffer more with the water.’ 

One woman was detained by the FSB in Kherson because they thought her husband was involved with Ukrainian forces. ‘The Russian soldiers terrorised her and then they found her husband,’ Ms Gorbunova says. 

‘The wife could hear her husband being beaten in the next room and she could hear him screaming in pain and begging them to stop.’ 

Meanwhile, a UN report released last month revealed how former detainees, both men and women, had been threatened with rape and other forms of sexual violence. 

One young woman said that while she was being interrogated by a Russian soldier, he told her that if she didn’t tell him the names of Ukrainians who were helping the army, he would bring 30 men in to rape her. 

One Ukrainian man, who was detained by Russian forces, said the soldiers threatened to throw him into a cell with regular prisoners who would rape him. Another said Russian soldiers threatened to cut his genitals off. 

Ms Orel says that this evidence of Russian brutality only adds to her fears that thousands more Ukrainians could be facing the same fate. 

‘I fear that there will be hundreds if not thousands more victims of torture and sexual violence that we will find once Russia are forced to retreat,’ Ms Orel says. 

‘I fear this because it’s the Russian way of war to behave with such brutality. They are worse than animals. They don’t act like people, it’s like they don’t have children, they don’t have families. They just want to destroy everything, anything with life.’ 

If you are a victim of wartime sexual violence, you can contact Andreiev Family Foundation’s anonymous hotline at 0800 300166 for help and support. If you have fled Ukraine, you can WhatsApp call on +38 067727 2185.