The attacker, who was initially thought to be Russian, turned out to be a former Ukrainian soldier
Police have arrested the man responsible for assaulting two Ukrainian women in France. Although the man was initially believed to be Russian, a press release from the prosecutor in Nice revealed on Wednesday that the attacker is in fact a former Ukrainian soldier.
The two victims, Ukrainian refugees Alina and her mother Elena, initially reported that their attacker was a Russian-speaking man who apparently attacked them for listening to Ukrainian music on their phones as they walked along the beach. “When we heard how he spoke, we understood” that he was Russian, Alina told local news channels. The two women suffered several injuries in the attack, as doctors say Elena has a broken nose, while Alina may have suffered a concussion.
When first reported, the incident sparked outrage in Kiev as the media and several officials were quick to report that the attacker was a Russian. In response to the posts, many social media commentators wrote that the incident was an example of how dangerous Russian people were.
Spokesperson for the country’s foreign ministry, Oleg Nikolenko, insisted: “Aggressors must be punished” and called for an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack, while the Ukrainian embassy in France denounced the attack as a… “horrific incident.”
On Tuesday, French police arrested a man who confessed to assaulting the two women. It turned out to be a 33-year-old man who had arrived in France seven months ago after previously serving in the Ukrainian army. Police said the man admitted to assaulting the women, but downplayed the seriousness of his assault, insisting that he only “passed” them, as reported by the news channel 20 Minutes. The Ukrainian also stated that he believed the women he attacked were Russian citizens because of their “Russian accent”.
According to the Nice prosecutor, the attacker now faces up to three years in prison and a €45,000 ($45,000) fine for racial-based violence. The hearing is expected to take place in November.
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