Russian Army Raped Woman and Burned Swastika on Her Body, Ukraine Claims

A Ukrainian member of parliament has claimed that Russian soldiers raped, tortured and killed a woman, burning a swastika in her body.

But Russian soldiers at what appeared to be the scene of the same killing gave a different account and put the blame on Ukrainians.

The war crimes accusation is among the latest of many made by Ukrainians against Russia since it invaded in late February. Russia has denied the atrocities and has accused Ukraine of staging them to win sympathy in the West.

On Sunday, MP Lesia Vasylenko of the Holos party shared an image to her Twitter page of the woman she said had been killed.

"Tortured body of a raped and killed woman. I'm speechless. My mind is paralyzed with anger and fear and hatred. #StopGenocide#StopPutinNow," she tweeted. The tweet did not give more details.

But journalist Patrick Lancaster, covering the invasion with Russian soldiers, recorded the body of what appeared to be the same woman with the same wound in a school basement in Mariupol. On March 27, he tweeted a video of the scene.

The Russian soldiers accompanying him said the school had been used as a military base for Ukrainian forces and the Azov Battalion, a Ukrainian nationalist volunteer group.

Newsweek has not been able to independently verify Vasylenko's or the Russian soldiers' claims.

Zelensky
Ukainian President Volodymyr Zelensky (C) speaks to the press in the town of Bucha, northwest of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv, on April 4, 2022. Ukrainian MP Lesia Vasylenko claimed that Russian's tortured and branded a woman with a swastika. Getty Images/Ronaldo Schemidt

In the video, a Russian soldier says that upon retreating, Ukrainian forces dressed people in civilian clothing, then took their weapons and ammunition and headed to the city.

"Look how they did it. They left all their clothes here, changed the uniform to civilian clothes, and left to the city with weapons dressed in civilian clothes," the Russian soldier said, according to the YouTube caption translation.

"They've broken through everything here, all pouches, everything is empty. they took away all weapons and ammunition," the soldier continued as they walked through the school.

"Something burned down, something is left, something like this. Their warehouse burned down. These are remnants of weapons. Here are hand-held and other kinds of anti-tank grenade launchers, machine guns. Judging by the uniform found, it was National Guard and Azov."

When the soldiers and Lancaster reach the body, the soldier says Russian soldiers would not burn "fascist crosses" into civilians.

"Civilians, probably the ones who supported us. Obviously, she was stabbed, not by our guys, there are fascist crosses," he said.

"I don't know by whom. They were retreating, most probably it's a civilian. Our guys would not leave such crosses. Swastika, that's for sure."

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has repeatedly accused Russian forces of committing war crimes during the invasion of the country.

He held a press conference in the streets of Bucha on Monday and said Russians had executed civilians at close range in the city and had also committed other war crimes. The Kremlin has denied such allegations.

"These are war crimes and they will be recognized by the world as genocide," Zelensky said while speaking to the media on Monday.

"You are here today and can see what happened. We know of thousands of people killed and tortured, with severed limbs, raped women, murdered children. I think it is more than... this is a genocide."

Newsweek has contacted Ukraine's Ministry of Defense and the Russian Ministry of Defense for comment.

Story updated on 03/05/2022 at 11.30 a.m. ET with additional material