“I was tortured by Russian-backed militants,” Ukrainian woman tells UN rights council
GENEVA, September 17, 2014 – Irina Dovgan, a Ukrainian woman who made international headlines after she was publicly abused by Russian-sponsored militants in eastern Ukraine, testified today before the UN Human Rights Council on behalf of UN Watch.
Dovgan’s harrowing account of her torture came one week before the council will hear a new report on the violence in eastern Ukraine.
“I do not understand why Russia, who directly sponsors my torturers, was recently elected to the Human Rights Council,” Dovgan told the 47-nation UN body.
Dovgan asked the UN to demand that Russia guarantee it will refrain from carrying out any reprisal action for her testimony.
Testimony by Irina Dovgan before UN Human Rights Council, on behalf of UN Watch, Sept. 17, 2014
Thank you, Mr. President. My name is Irina Dovgan, I am a resident of Donbas in eastern Ukraine, the region occupied by the pro-Russian separatists. I am speaking on behalf of UN Watch.
On August 24, pro-Russian military groups took me out of my house, and falsely accused me of being a spotter for the Ukrainian artillery. In fact, I gave food, medicine and clothes for Ukrainian soldiers.
On August 25, I was taken to the city center of Donestk, wrapped in a Ukrainian flag and made to stand at the post with a sign: “I am a killer and an agent of killers.”
One of the militants told people he would shoot me in the knee, and, indeed, he aimed and shot, barely missing my kneecap.
Another lifted up my shirt and made fun of my breasts. Passersby beat me, kicked me, spit at me in the face and took pictures with me.
For a period of four days I was beaten, tortured and continuously threatened with gang rape. Between interrogations, I was lying on the cold floor without food or water. I prayed for death.
Under torture, I gave the militants the PIN codes of family credit cards, passwords, and access to bank accounts. The cards were then used in Russia to withdraw our savings in Russian rubles.
My house and my son’s apartment were plundered in retaliation for my openness and speaking out. I continue to receive terrible threats, including against the safety of my 15-year-old daughter.
I survived thanks to the journalists who reported my story. But the longing for my home and my native land is still strong.
For my family, as well as for millions of other Ukrainians, today it is impossible to return home.
I want to believe that the world will be able to stop the aggressor who came to our land. I do not understand why Russia, directly sponsoring my torturers, was recently elected to the Human Rights Council.
I ask the United Nations to demand that Russia guarantee that I will not be persecuted for speaking the truth.
Thank you, Mr. President.