Putin branded ‘biggest war criminal of 21st century’ after ‘deliberate rape’

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been branded "the main war criminal of the 21st century" after allegations of rape and torture following his invasion of Ukraine.

Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova also said she was "sure" that rape was a deliberate tactic deployed by Russian soldiers as she visited the devastated city of Irpin on Tuesday (May 3).

She noted how men, women, young children and an old woman have been alleged victims of rape in Irpin, adding that many are worried about speaking out in case Russian forces return.

"This is, of course, to scare civil society… to do everything to [make Ukrainians] capitulate," Venediktova explained.

Citing Putin's previous military interventions in Georgia, Chechnya, Syria as well as Ukraine, she said: "Putin is the main war criminal of the 21st century.

"If we speak about [the] crime of aggression, we all know who started this war, and this person is Vladimir Putin."

Hundreds of Ukrainian civilians were found dead, either stuffed into mass graves or left strewn across streets, when Russian forces left occupied regions around Kyiv a few weeks ago.

The liberated cities of Irpin and Bucha have been the centre of horrifying reports, where many executed civilians were found with their hands bound.

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Despite all the evidence to the contrary, the Kremlin has denied accusations of war crimes and targeting civilians.

According to Lyudmyla Denisova, the Ombudsman for Human Rights in Ukraine, a sexual assault hotline received 400 reports of Russian abuses in just two weeks.

Children were among some of those cases and the five psychologists employed to operate the hotline "cannot cope with the load".

In one of the most shocking reports, 25 people aged between 14 and 25 were allegedly held in a basement in Bucha and "systematically" raped.

Nine of those victims are now reportedly pregnant.

"I asked Unicef to almost double the number of psychologists, to ensure that the care is of good quality and that there is no burnout, including those psychologists who receive such appeals day and night. And these cases are very terrible," Denisova said.

Speaking earlier this month, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said there had been "hundreds of cases of rape" including young children and "even of a baby".

If you or somebody you know has been affected by this story, contact Victim Support for free, confidential advice on 08 08 16 89 111 or visit their website, www.victimsupport.org.uk.

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