In May 2022, former Ombudsman for Human Rights of Ukraine, Lyudmila Denisova, was removed from her position. This happened due to criticism on how she communicated insights on cases of sexual violence allegedly committed by Russian military forces against Ukrainian civilians during the Russian attack on Ukraine in 2022.

As was relayed by plenty of news outlets at the time, Denisova stated she had "exaggerated" in her reports. This seems to be the origin of two different narratives:

  • One interpretation is that she exaggerated in the way she reported about the incidents, in the sense that everything happened as she had described, but she described the incidents with more detail than what would have been necessary. For example:

    (...) speaking about the language she used in her reports, Ms Denisova said: “Yes, then this vocabulary was very harsh. I said that, indeed, maybe I exaggerated. But I tried to achieve the goal of convincing the world to provide weapons and pressure.”

    Ms Denisova stands by her reports despite being removed from her position.

    UPDATE: Sacked Ukraine official “exaggerated” reports of sexual crimes by Russian soldiers
    Note that this article itself indeed insinuates interpretation #2, see below, but the contained quote that I re-quoted here specifically links the admitted exaggeration to "language".

  • The other interpretation is that she exaggerated the incidents themselves, that is, that she made up parts of what she described. For example:

    Speaking to a Ukrainian news outlet, Denisova said that the information about rapes that she spread served her goal to obtain more military aid, confirming that “indeed, maybe I exaggerated” some of the rape claims.

    Ousted Ukrainian Official Breaks Silence, Admits She ‘Exaggerated’ About Mass Rapes by Russian Forces

This contrast was also addressed in a comment by user bytebuster on a related question:

Whether or not Mrs. Denisova exaggerated the "very harsh vocabulary" when describing Russian gang/children rapes, or why would certain news outlets title this like "Denisova exaggerated Russian rape claims", making its readers think that there were no Russian gang rapes at all, — is another question (...)

Thus, as no-one seems to have posted this other question, I'm going to do it:

Did Lyudmila Denisova admit to exaggerating the stated facts of the rape incidents, rather than just to picking overly drastic words to describe the incidents while staying true to the facts?

The original interview linked to by one of the aforementioned articles (preferrably read and understood by someone who can read it without running it through an auto-translator) might be a first trace, though maybe follow-up information was also provided for clarification in other sources by Ms. Denisova or someone officially speaking on her behalf.

  • 2
    Meh. The Epoch Times doesn't have the best journalistic rep. Other than reading Denisova's own statements, which seem to be included in the Q, I'm not sure what else can an answer contain. Jul 31, 2022 at 16:32
  • 1
    Some of the MPs who voted to remove her did say she repeated stories that were backed by little verifiable evidence newsweek.com/… TBH some of the other criticism levelled at her (by the same MPs) seems weird from a typical separation of powers perspective. I'm not sure how a parliamentary ombudsman can oversee humanitarian corridors in any country. dw.com/en/… Jul 31, 2022 at 16:42
  • @Fizz: Note that I didn't specifically pick the "Epoch Times" for its reputation, but just two more or less random samples of statements that represent the two interpretations. I did so because in this case, many examples of such articles can be easily found, so the purpose of the citations was more about illustrating what I mean than proving that the statements exist. Jul 31, 2022 at 17:13
  • @Fizz: "Other than reading Denisova's own statements, which seem to be included in the Q, I'm not sure what else can an answer contain." - please have a look at the final paragraph in my question, which answers precisely this question. As I explain there, neither can I verify the nuances in the original (Ukrainian) text, nor am I certain that the statements were not clarified later on on top of what was said in the interview. Jul 31, 2022 at 17:14
  • Yeah, but who seriously expects the Epoch Times to have done that kind of footwork, rather than editorialize? You're ultimately asking an unanswerable question, "evidence of absence" of such statements from her. I hope you did note that the ET coverage refers to the same "indeed, maybe I exaggerated" quote and not some other. Jul 31, 2022 at 20:40


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .