KIEV, Ukraine – Angry residents in a town in southern Ukraine stormed the local police headquarters after authorities refused to detain one of two police officers implicated in the brutal gang-rape of a young woman.
Channel 5 footage showed men throwing stones and then storming the gates of a police unit in the town of Vradiyevka on Monday night. Windows and doors were broken and a man was shown lying on the ground next to a pool of blood. He was later taken away in an ambulance.
The chaos was over by Tuesday morning with most protesters returning to their homes, said Natalia Pirogova, a math teacher at a local school, who spoke to the Associated Press by phone.
A 29-year-old woman in the town, some 200 miles south of Kiev, said she was shoved into a car, driven to the woods, raped and savagely beaten last week by two policemen, aided by a driver. The woman spent several days in a coma, having sustained multiple fractures to her skull and bruises all over her body.
One of the police officers and the driver have been detained, but the second policeman — whom the woman identified as the main perpetrator — has remained free, claiming he was on duty at the police headquarters when the crime happened.
Two senior regional police officials and a prosecutor have been fired for failing to properly respond to the crime, authorities said Tuesday, and the Interior Minister was due to appear in parliament later in the day to answer questions from the opposition about the incident.
In a video interview released by local media, the victim, Irina Krashkova, her face swollen and disfigured by bruises, identified the alleged perpetrators and said the policeman who has remained free was the organizer of the crime.
"They strangled me, they beat me, they called me various names," the woman said, barely able to speak. "Then they took off my clothes." She said the main attacker raped her and then offered her to the other police officer, who did the same. She said the driver did not touch her."
The Associated Press does not generally identify victims of sexual assault, but makes an exception where the victim has publicly identified herself, as Krashkova has done.
The crime brought to memory last year's brutal attack on an 18-year-old in the same Mykolayiv region. The victim, Oksana Makar was raped, strangled and set on fire by three young men, some of whom had well-connected relatives. She died of her burns two weeks later.
Two of the three suspects were initially released and were re-arrested only after nationwide protests. The case galvanized Ukrainians fed up with the corruption that allows people with money and connections to avoid punishment, whether for violating traffic laws or for more serious crimes.