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Ukraine tries its first Russian soldier for alleged war crimes

By Rachel Treisman
Ukraine Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova visits a mass grave in Bucha, on the outskirts of Kyiv, on April 13 (Fadel Senna / AFP via Getty Images)

The office of Ukraine's prosecutor general announced on Wednesday that it is opening its first war crimes trial, in the case of a Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova, writing on Facebook, identified the soldier as 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin — a member of the elite 4th Guards Tank Division — and said he is currently in custody. The events in question took place Feb. 28 in Chupakhivka, a village in the Sumy region about 180 miles east of Kyiv.

A pretrial investigation found that Shishimarin and four colleagues, fleeing an attack by Ukrainian defense forces, fired at and seized a private car, which they used to drive into the village. On the way, they saw a man talking on a phone while walking his bicycle along the sidewalk.

Venediktova said that one of the other soldiers ordered Shishimarin to kill the civilian "so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders." Investigators say Shishimarin fired his Kalashnikov several times through the car window, shooting the unarmed 62-year-old in the head.

"The man died on the spot just a few dozens of meters from his house," she added.

She said that prosecutors have collected "enough evidence of his involvement in violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder," for which Shishimarin faces either 10-15 years in prison or life in prison.

"Shishimarin is actually physically in Ukraine," Venediktova told Ukraine's public broadcaster, according to the The Washington Post. "We are starting a trial not in absentia, but rather directly with the person who killed a civilian, and this is a war crime."

More such trials could be on the horizon. Venediktova said last week that Russia has committed nearly 10,000 war crimes since invading Ukraine in late February.


This story first appeared in the Morning Edition live blog.

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Dive Deeper:
First Russian soldier to go on trial in Ukraine for war crimes
As Nato expansion ratchets up the pressure on Vladimir Putin, Vadim Shysimarin, 21, is charged with murdering a 62-year-old civilian
Ukraine: Russian soldier goes on trial in first war crimes case
Some 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects are being investigated by Kyiv
Ukraine to open war crimes trial of Russian soldier accused of killing civilian
Ukraine has indicted a Russian soldier – one of over 600 suspects identified for alleged atrocities – in what will…
Ukraine begins first war crimes trial of Russian soldier
A Ukrainian court held a preliminary hearing on Friday in the first war crimes trial arising from Russia's Feb. 24…
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Ukraine plans war crimes trial for captured Russian soldier
Ukraine’s top prosecutor has disclosed plans for the first war crimes trial of a captured Russian soldier, as fighting raged…
Ukraine announces first war crime trial of Russian soldier in custody as UK enters pact with Sweden, Finland
Ukraine’s prosecutor general yesterday said the country would try a 21-year-old Russian soldier who is in custody, adding that he…
Get all your news in one place