Screengrab from a video shot by the mother of Ukraine teenager Oksana Makar, who was allegedly gang-raped and set alight. (YouTube/Screengrab)
Oksana Makar, an 18-year-old Ukrainian woman allegedly gang-raped, half-strangled and then set on fire in an attack that sparked street protests and drew the attention of President Viktor Yanukovich, has died.
The release of two of Makar’s three suspected attackers, whose parents had political connections, sparked street protests in several cities and re-ignited public debate on corruption in the ex-Soviet republic, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.
The attack stripped 55 percent of her skin and medics were forced to amputate one of her arms and both her feet to try and keep her alive.
NBC quoted Emil Fistal, head of the specialist burns unit where Makar was taken for treatment, as saying: “Lung bleeding began and then her heart activity stopped. We tried three times to revive her with defibrillation.”
The two men were re-arrested and police disciplined after Yanukovich personally intervened, sending an investigating team to the town of Mykolayiv in southern Ukraine
More from GlobalPost: Yulia Tymoshenko refuses to wear uniform in Ukraine prison
Makar’s mother, Tetyana Surovitska, posted a harrowing video of her on YouTube talking from her hospital bed about how she was raped, strangled and burned in a ditch.
In the video (below), Makar calls for her attackers to be castrated and imprisoned, according to local English language newspaper Kyiv Post. It named the suspects as Yevhen Krasnoschek, 23; Maksym Prisyazhnyuk, 24; and Artem Pogosyan, 22.
Surovitska was accused of exploiting Makar, and also spending money donated for her Oksana’s care on herself, as well as charging reporters for interviews, London’s Daily Mail reported.
Ukrainian media have also shown footage of one of the three suspects describing to police how Makar was attacked in an apartment in the city, then wrapped in a blanket and left in a pit, according to the BBC.
It cited the Kiev Post described the attack as “one of Ukraine’s most heinous crimes in recent years.”
Protests took place in Mykolayiv, Odessa, Lviv and Kharkiv.
Ukraine’s Communist Party, which is part of the ruling coalition in parliament, reiterated its call for a return of the death penalty.
According to NBC, Interior Minister Vitaly Zakharchenko confirmed earlier this month that the parents of at least one of the three suspects were former government officials in the Mykolayiv region.