Rapists Will Be Punished, Yanukovych Says

KIEV, Ukraine -- President Viktor Yanukovych, in his first public comments on the high profile gang-rape allegedly committed by two police officers, said Thursday that all responsible for the crime will be severely punished.

Viktor Yanukovych

"I will not tolerate impunity, especially when it comes to those who should protect people and not violate any laws," Yanukovych said.

The comments come two days after hundreds of angry protesters stormed a local police station in Vradiyivka, Mykolayiv region, demanding arrest of police officers that had been alleged to commit the crime.

The case galvanized Ukrainians among widespread belief that corruption, lawlessness and the impunity of government officials and their wealthy friends has increased markedly since Yanukovych came to power three years ago.

The developments put mounting pressure on two of Yanukovych’s closest allies, Interior Affairs Minister Vitaliy Zakharchenko and Prosecutor General Viktor Pshonka, amid calls from opposition groups for dismissals.

The victim of the latest gang-rape, a 29-year-old local woman identified as Irina Krashkova, was returning home from a bar last week when she says she was shoved into a car, driven to the woods, raped and savagely beaten by two policemen, aided by a driver.

The woman remains in the hospital in serious condition, having sustained multiple fractures to her skull and bruises all over her body.

"Those who are guilty of this crime have no place in law enforcement. They should be punished with all the rigor of the law," Yanukovych said.

"Here is the question and the prosecutor's office and the regional police - where were these leaders at various levels of the district who tried to cover up this crime? These questions remain unanswered," Yanukovych said.

The president also urged the law enforcement to inform the people about the progress with the investigation.

"People should know the truth," he said.

Opposition lawmakers said that the police station may be responsible for at least five cases of gang-rape and murders over the past three years, in addition to other cases of brutality recorded in the region.

Source: Ukrainian Journal