First war crimes trial since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine opens in Kyiv

·2 min read

Authorities in Ukraine are set to start the first ever war crimes trial against a Russian soldier who has been accused of gunning down an unarmed civilian.

The captured Russian soldier, Vadim Shishimarin, will be presented at Kyiv’s Solomyansky district court at 2pm (12pm BST) on Wednesday. Other similar trials are expected to follow in the coming days as war rages on in the European country for the third month.

Mr Shishimarin was leading the Kantemirovskaya tank division as the unit’s commander on 28 February, when he fired through a car window in Sumy Oblast’s Chupakhivka village.

He and four other Russian soldiers, had stolen a car and were in the vicinity when they saw a 62-year-old man riding a bicycle, prosecutors said.

Fearing that their location could be disclosed to the Ukrainian troops defending the territory, Mr Shishimarin was reportedly ordered to shoot the civilian down as their tank division had come under fire.

The 21-year-old Russian soldier then fired a shot from a Kalashnikov assault rifle, and the civilian “died instantly, a few dozen metres from his home”, the prosecutor’s office said in a statement, reported AFP.

Mr Shishimarin, originally from Siberia, has been charged on counts of war crimes and premediated murder. If convicted, the Russian soldier could face life imprisonment.

He was presented in court last week flanked by Ukrainian security officials. Donning a grey and blue tracksuit with a shaved head, Mr Shishimarin was seen behind a glass during the proceedings.

The soldier did not speak much, except for confirming his basic details, in court. He has not contested the charges against him.

Mr Shishimarin’s lawyer said the captured soldier “understands what he is being accused of”, but did not share any details of his defence.

Officials have said that the soldier is cooperating with investigators.

Arrested in early May, Mr Shishimarin had said that he had come to Ukraine at the beginning of the Russian invasion in February to “support his mother financially”.

Ukraine is doubling down on its efforts to start war crime trials on the domestic front as the country’s prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova said that they “have over 11,000 ongoing cases of war crimes and already 40 suspects”.

“By this first trial, we are sending a clear signal that every perpetrator, every person who ordered or assisted in the commission of crimes in Ukraine shall not avoid responsibility,” the top prosecutor said.

Ukraine will also test two more Russian soldiers on Thursday for firing rockets at civilian infrastructure in Kharkiv.

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