A hospital-bed video of a Ukrainian teen recounting under her mother’s prodding how she was gang-raped, nearly strangled, dumped in a ditch and set afire by three men has been posted online, raising new outrage in a case that already sparked protests over the way it was handled by police and prosecutors.
In the video, Oksana Makar, 18, clearly in pain and distraught, tries to cover herself but her mother, Tetyana Surovitska, tells her not to and asks her repeatedly to “say a couple words to Ukraine.” Makar starts to describe her ordeal, but then breaks off and says she can’t.
Asked how her attackers should be punished, she says their testicles should be cut off and fed to dogs.
Finally asked how she wills herself to live, the young woman says, “How I will live, I will live. That’s all.”
The video, which has been posted in several places on YouTube, has drawn outraged responses, with many commenters asking how a mother could do such a thing to her daughter, and some saying that the video amounted to a second rape of the teen.
Surovitska defended herself today against accusations that she has been spending money raised for her daughter’s care on herself and that she was taking money from reporters in exchange for interviews.
“Look at me. Do I look like a rich woman?” she said in an interview with a Ukrainian website, Gazeta.ua.
Makar told police that on March 9, two young men she met in a bar invited her to their friend’s apartment, where all three men allegedly raped her, tried to choke her to death, wrapped her in a sheet, took her to a construction site, dumped her in a pit and set her on fire, according to the Kyiv Post.
The next day a man heard moaning coming from the construction site. He saw something moving under a charred sheet, and found Makar barely alive. He called the police, and Makar was rushed to the hospital. Fifty-five percent of her skin is gone, her kidneys were completely burned, and one of her arms and both her feet had to be amputated, according to the Kyiv Post.
She regained consciousness after surgery, but on Friday doctors induced a coma and moved her from a hospital in Mykolayiv to a burn treatment center in Donetsk, where doctors today said her condition was improving and they believed she now has a better chance of survival.
The case sparked demonstrations across Ukraine after police released two of the suspects shortly after their arrest. A spokeswoman for the Mykolayiv prosecutor’s office said local officials did not have enough evidence to hold them, according to the Kyiv Post, so they were classified as witnesses.
Ukraine’s chief police officer, Vitaly Zakharchenko confirmed reports that the two men who were released are the sons of former government officials. A video of one of the suspects calmly describing the attack was posted to YouTube, where it was viewed 100,000 times in the first day.
Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych ordered General Prosecutor Viktor Pshonka to take charge of the case, and on March 13, the two men who had been released were re-arrested. All three suspects are charged with attempted murder.