UN official admits to lack of Ukraine rape evidence in prank call
The UN special representative on sexual violence, Pramila Patten, admitted she possesses no solid evidence to substantiate earlier accusations against Russia, in a mock call with pranksters Vovan and Lexus. Last month, Patten claimed that Russian soldiers used mass sexual assault as part of a military strategy in Ukraine.
“This is the information, which I got when I was in Kiev on May 3 from survivors and service providers,” she is heard saying in a video published by the Russian prankster duo on Thursday. Vovan and Lexus posed as Aleksandr Merezhko, the head of the Ukrainian parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee. According to Patten, the “service providers” who reported this information to her were carrying out “door-to-door” enquiries and were “referring to Mariupol.”
The Azov Sea port city of Mariupol was already largely controlled by Russian forces in early May, with Ukrainian troops holed up at the Azovstal steel plant. The Russian military allowed the UN and the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate civilians from the city, but there were no reports about Ukrainian ‘service providers’ carrying out door-to-door enquiries there.
Patten also insisted that this information was relayed to her in the presence of Ukraine’s European integration minister, Olga Stefanishina.
When asked by the pranksters whether she was provided with any evidence to substantiate these reports, Patten said it was “not her job” to conduct investigations, adding that she was just “sitting in New York” and providing “strategic leadership.”
“It’s not my role to go and investigate. It’s not the role of my office,” she told them. Patten said the investigation was being carried out by the UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine. She noted, however, that their reports did not mention anything “about Viagra.”
Speaking to AFP in October, Patten claimed that sexual violence was a “deliberate tactic” and “military strategy” of Russia, and that soldiers were “equipped with Viagra.” Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova blasted Patten’s claims as going “beyond the reach of reason.”