Reporters investigated statements blaming Russian soldiers for 'sexual atrocities? and found little to no evidence
Ukrainian prosecutors have apparently been unable to confirm the vast majority of the stories of "sexual atrocities" allegedly committed by Russian soldiers that were claimed by ousted human rights chief Liudmila Denisova, according to a Ukrainskaya Pravda report published on Monday, citing various official sources.
Denisova, who had served as Ukraine's ombudsman since 2018, was fired from her position in late May after a no-confidence vote over her failure to perform such duties as organizing humanitarian corridors and prisoner exchanges amid the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine.
She was also slammed for "inexplicably focusing" on spreading unverified and unsubstantiated information about sexual atrocities supposedly committed by Russian troops in Ukraine, which some MPs argued only served to tarnish Ukraine's image.
In its report, Ukrainskaya Pravda (Ukrainian Truth) wrote that Ukrainian law enforcement officials tried to investigate Denisova's claims on their own. "They raised all appeals to doctors, statements made to police, death reports, trying to find the cases that Denisova described. However, all this work turned out to be useless," the outlet claims.
After interrogating Denisova several times, prosecutors finally discovered that she had been getting all her information from her daughter, Alexandra Kvitko, who was in charge of a 'psychological hotline' established in collaboration with the ousted official's human rights office and UNICEF.
The outlet states that, according to people who worked in Denisova's office, what they dubbed the "Kvitko line" differed significantly from all the other hotlines in the organization. The main difference was its lack of transparency.
While the operators of the main hotlines were required to record all incoming calls and report them to their superiors, so that they could be passed on to law enforcement, it seems nobody knew anything about Kvitko's work, as there were no records of what she was doing. Some of the staff at the ombudsman's office were not even sure that the five 'UNICEF psychologists' supposedly working on the Kvitko line were real.
According to three separate sources, the outlet states that none of the crimes publicly reported by Denisova and her daughter were ever forwarded to law enforcement.
In her testimony to Ukrainian prosecutors, Kvitko allegedly "swore" that her hotline received over 1,040 calls in just a month and a half, 450 of which pertained to the rape of minors. However, after obtaining official call logs, investigators discovered that in the alleged time frame the hotline received just 92 calls.
Kvitko has also reportedly been unable to provide prosecutors with any details about who called her and to which doctors she referred the victims, or any other indications that the victims even existed.
The outlet also states that Kvitko testified that she shared the stories about sexual assaults with her mother "over tea."
"According to the source, after the interrogation, Denisova herself repeated to the prosecutors the same mantra that her subordinates had heard from her. When the camera turned off, she explained that she told these terrible stories because she wanted victory for Ukraine," the publication concluded.
Although Ukrainian prosecutors have dismissed most of the cases cited by Denisova as fabrications, they have noted that such incidents were indeed happening throughout the country, and that there have been dozens of confirmed cases of sexual assault against victims of different ages since the start of the conflict between Moscow and Kiev.
Before her firing, Denisova's statements drew the ire of a number of politicians, journalists, human rights activists and psychologists, who slammed her over what they called a breach of ethics. They insisted that she was grossly violating the rights of rape victims by publicly describing intimate details of the alleged sexual assaults and accused her of turning the reporting of alleged sexual crimes committed by Russian soldiers into something akin to a "scandalous newsreel" publication.