Before the release of the documentary film “He Tooabout Ukrainian men who had been sexually abused by Russians, Slidstvo.Info spoke to four Kherson investigators who work with this type of war crime. There are both men and women among them. In order to protect the safety of police officers working in the frontline city, the editorial office does not publish their names.

The journalists of Slidstvo.Info have combined the answers of the investigators into blocks for easier reading.


Prior to the full-scale invasion, Kherson law enforcement officers were mostly engaged in general crime. These included theft, robbery, hooliganism, crimes related to illegal arms trafficking, and illegal drug trafficking. There were also serious and especially serious crimes involving murder and bodily harm.

According to the police, they had experience working with women who had been raped.

“When you work in a police station, rape cases happen quite often. Mostly, it concerns minors. You go on duty, you get a call like this, and as an investigator on duty, you do the first evidence collection, go to the scene, talk to the survivor. In the new realities, I chose a direction myself – crimes related to sexual violence against men. I wanted to investigate sexual violence and learn new investigative skills.”


It often takes time for a person to feel more secure and ready to talk about their experiences. In some cases, it took a year or more before survivors came forward.

“The survivors worked with psychologists and only then were they ready to talk about what happened. The same people recall others who were beaten, tortured or raped in neighbouring cells. This is how we learn about new similar crimes.

Most of the time, men come forward with statements that they were held and tortured. If we’re talking about women, it’s preferable to work with a female investigator so that a person can open up and trust their story.”


“The victims I talked to said that groups of 3-5 Russian soldiers usually resorted to torture with perversions. Together they beat, undressed and attached certain devices to the genitals of Ukrainians.

The Russians were wearing balaclavas or face masks – of course, they did not want to be recognised in the future. Only in a few cases did we identify the torturers – by call signs or some details that the victim remembered.”

The occupiers mostly detained people “for something”. That is, they learned or assumed that the person had done something against the Russians. They tracked him down and detained him to get what they wanted to hear, sometimes on camera. They tortured him to the point where some Ukrainians simply lied to make it stop.

“It is obvious to me that the Russians use sexualised violence against men to break them psychologically, to show the prisoners their helplessness.

What the Russian military did is some kind of fetish, I don’t know. I mean, they like it. On their psychological, mental level, they believed that if they did something like that to a detainee, he would tell everything. It’s such a brutal compulsion to dialogue. When tortured with electric shocks attached to the genitals, a person will tell everything that happened and what did not. And, of course, the occupiers expect that men are ashamed and will not talk about their experiences.

But the victims are talking, and it’s right! These testimonies will help us to draw up an even truer picture of who the Russians really are. To identify and punish the perpetrators, of course. We strongly believe in punishment and we are working for it – they all deserve life in prison for what they have done.”


Communication with survivors of sexualised violence can last for a very long time: a day or two. With breaks, of course. First of all, you need to establish contact with the victims, establish trust, and there should be a period of active listening. It happens that on the first day a survivor may not remember something, but the next day they come and tell us.

“Even during the war, we had special trainings on how to deal with victims of sexual violence. It seems to be elementary things – the availability of water, handkerchiefs if a person is crying. Offer to move to a more comfortable room, to rest. All this helps in the end. Sometimes you need to hold a person’s hand to make them feel involved and sympathetic.

If the person is worried, we offer to change their personal data so that there is no threat to their life and health, either to them or to their family members.”

Everything the survivor says remains between them and the investigator.

“A person shares some intimate details of what happened. I think it’s unethical to discuss it with anyone later. Besides, it is a secret of the pre-trial investigation.

Such questionings are exhausting. And the stories I hear – I don’t know how they affect anyone else, but they affect me.

I don’t show it and don’t take my work home with me. I have other things to do there – life, family.

You know, sometimes you watch a film that really impresses you, and then you go around for a few days actively thinking about it. It’s the same here: after talking to the survivors, I walk around for a few days wondering how a person can survive all this.

They say that we can go to psychotherapists, but I don’t see any need for that. I came here to work, not to introspect. I understood what I would see, what I would face.”


For every investigator, the main thing is to establish what exactly happened and which of the Russian military did it. It is also important to make sure that this particular Russian serviceman is really responsible.

“We already know about a huge number of these horrific crimes, but how many are in the still occupied territories? How much more will we know when we go there? Russians do this because they believe in impunity.

That is why we have to document and bring these cases to the International Criminal Court.

What category of people came here? There are a lot of previously convicted people with not the best moral qualities. People who have not seen civilisation. It’s a prison culture where everything related to men and some kind of sexual context is taboo. And their cave culture came to our lands.

All Ukrainian men talk about what happened in the torture chambers. We understand that this is a psychological trauma for them and it is difficult for them, but no one is silent or refuses to talk about these terrible traumas.”

The video has English subtitles.

READ ALSO: “Russia Is a Big Prison” — Head of Institute of National Remembrance on Systematic Use of Sexual Violence Against Ukrainian Men