One of the most popular fakes that the Ukrainian propaganda machine has been distributing lately is related to reports about Russian soldiers raping Ukrainian women and children. Such reports appear not only on Telegram channels and social media at the behest of Ukraine's 72nd Center for Information and Psychological Operations. Ukrainian officials spread them too with Prosecutor General of Ukraine Irina Venediktova or Commissioner for Human Rights in Ukraine Lyudmila Denisova being among them.
One of the most common myths that nourishes Russophobia says that Soviet military men had raped German women during the concluding months of the Great Patriotic War (WWII). This myth has been debunked many times before.
Here is a Stalin quote, for instance:
"Officers and Red Army soldiers! We are going to the country of the enemy. Everyone should keep their composure, everyone must be brave… The population that remains in the conquered areas, whether they are Germans, Czechs or Poles, must not be subjected to violence. The guilty will be punished according to the laws of war times. Sexual intercourse with females is not allowed on the conquered territory. Those responsible for violence and rape will be shot.”
There is official data on the subject too. For example, there is a report from the military prosecutor of the 1st Belorussian Front about the illegal actions of Soviet soldiers in relation to civilian population for the period from April 22 to May 5, 1945. The report gives the following numbers:
Of course, each of those cases is a tragedy. However, fake news creators claimed that Soviet soldiers had raped two million German women.
The authorship of this myth is ascribed to Kurt Marek, a fascist propagandist who helped his former subordinate Martha Hillers write the book "A Woman in Berlin". The book is full of fictional perversions and other atrocities, which, allegedly, Soviet soldiers had committed during the times of war. Relying on one of Goebbels's principles (although this quote is not his, but Hitler's): "The more monstrous the lie, the more reliable it is,” two former Nazi criminals created the myth that had been distributed to American and European audiences, starting as early as 1954.
In 2015, the BBC published an extensive article announcing a book with a fake diary of Vitaly Gelfand (a Ukrainian Jew). The BBC told the general public in the West about countless victims among the civilian population of Germany during the war against fascism. The story about two million rapes was there in the book too.
The first fake news story about Russian military men committing acts of rape against Ukrainian women was authored by Russian opposition activist Lyubov Sobol. Sobol referred to Prosecutor General of Ukraine, Irina Venediktova. Stories like that continued to multiply afterwards. However, practically all of those fake stories had similarities between them. Almost all of those stories had no evidence to substantiate them. At the same time, the abundance of detail in those stories is striking, which comes contrary to the stark absence of evidence.
For example, victims' names do not appear in most of those stories. A large settlement is mentioned instead — Bucha, Mariupol, Kherson. If the case takes place in a village, then the general phrase is used: "In one of the villages of the Kherson region…" There are no photos or videos of the victims either (except for one case). No eyewitness testimony. There are no photos, videos or audio recordings proving acts of violence. No post-mortem examinations. In a nutshell, there is not a single proven fact of violence.
The only video that one could perhaps call realistic was filmed in Zaporozhye, where many residents of Kherson had been evacuated to. The video shows the supposed victim of violence standing with her back to the camera as the reporter is interviewing the woman. There are inconsistencies in the "victim's” speech: for example, she says that the rapists assaulted her on the street, and then "threw her down onto the bed. The video was clearly edited. At 1.04-1.06 timestamp, one can hear the voice of the "victim”, while the journalist moves her lips and gesticulates. The video was posted by foreign agent publication Nastoyashee Vremya (Current Time), which is known for its anti-Russian stance. Noteworthy, the woman in the video stumbles between Russian and Ukrainian languages. She first says a Ukrainian word several times and then repeats it in Russian. Obviously, the video was made targeting Russian audiences.
The particular cruelty of the "criminals" is another peculiarity of rape stories. First news stories about acts of rape committed against women and even children in different localities in Ukraine invariably featured a child. According to those stories, the child saw his or her mother being raped at gunpoint. Another story says that the child allegedly turned gray at the age of six.
In an effort to intimidate people even more, the Ukrainian propaganda in the face of Ukrainian Commissioner for Human Rights Ludmila Denisova proceeded to spread even more shocking fake stories: gang rape, rape of very young children, pregnancy of a 14-year-old girl after abuse, bullying of children in front of their mothers' eyes.
The purpose of all the above is to evoke most negative feelings of disgust, aversion and horror in primarily Western readers. As for anonymity, one may say that the victims' names were not announced for the safety of those women.
"Manipulating the topic of sexual violence for propaganda purposes is generally advantageous. The faces and names of the alleged victims are not to be exposed, ostensibly for ethical reasons, whereas the alleged perpetrators remain either unidentified or unexposed too. This contributes to the creation of an abstract negative image, which can later be attributed to all Russian military men," Rybar Telegram channel said.
On the one hand, the above statement is true, but history, unfortunately, does know a plethora of acts of rape, harassment and bullying that had been committed against women during the times of war. History even knows faces and names of some of those women. They are, for example, Lara Logan or Natasha Smith, who were subjected to mass abuse and rape in Tahrir Square in Egypt in 2011. In addition, civil crime chronicle may very often conceal victims' names when describing those crimes. At the same time, their age, crime circumstances and police protocols could be reported.
Officials or even "victims" themselves have already debunked a number of cases of alleged violence. For example, the Kherson authorities denied reports about acts of sexual violence that Russian military men allegedly committed against eleven residents of the city.
The most recent example is the story of a pervert from Russia's Stavropol region, who abused a one-year-old child in Russia and had already been arrested. Ukrainian Telegram channels, having learned about the arrest of the criminal, immediately reported that he was actually a Russian soldier, whereas the child was a resident of Bucha.
They did not even pay attention to the fact that on March 8, the traffic police in the Krasnodar region of Russia stopped the man and issued him a fine — it is unlikely that this would have been possible if the offender had participated in the special operation. It was established that the man, Alexey Bychkov, was not a soldier of the Russian army. According to a source from the military unit, he did plan to serve on a contractual basis, but after three months of service, in February 2021, he was fired under "Indiscipline of a serviceman", and the contract with him was terminated. It is impossible to go and serve in the army again with such a career background.
The world media could not but respond to fake news about Russian military men raping Ukrainian women and children.
On March 28, The Times published the article "Russian soldiers raped me as my terrified son cried”;
On April 3, HRW published the testimony of an unidentified 31-year-old woman who was allegedly raped twice by a Russian soldier while she was in Malaya Rogan, a village in the Kharkiv region of Ukraine. The woman's story sounds like a retelling of a Hollywood thriller about a maniac than the victim's testimony.
Those articles are designed to make European or American readers experience horror, to make them develop aversion to the image of the Russian soldier in general.
Up to 16,000 military men of the Armed Forces of Ukraine have been entrapped near the towns of Severodonetsk and Lysichansk