New Delhi: A 21-year-old soldier has become the first Russian to be tried for war crimes in Ukraine.
The soldier, Vadim Shysimarin, appeared in a small courtroom packed with journalists in Kyiv on Friday, charged with killing a 62-year-old man in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka in Sumy. He could get from 10 years to life in prison.
Ukraine’s prosecution says Shysimarin fatally shot the unarmed man who was pushing a bicycle on the road on 28 February.
According to the prosecution, Shysimarin was with a group of Russian troops that had driven into the town in a stolen car. The car’s wheels were punctured as the vehicle had come under Ukrainian fire.
When they saw the man cycling by the road – apparently a few metres from his home – one of the soldiers ordered Shysimarin to kill him so that the man could not report them to the Ukrainian army.
“I was ordered to shoot,” Shysimarin said of the killing on 28 February. “I shot one [round] at him. He falls. And we kept on going.” The Russian shot him in the head with a Kalashnikov. The man died on the spot.
His video statement is “one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders”, according to authorities.
The prosecutor general’s office said Shysimarin’s Kantemirovskaya tank division was eventually captured.
Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venwediktova said in a Facebook post: “The suspect Shysimarin is currently in custody. Prosecutors and investigators of the SBU have collected enough evidence of his involvement in violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder. For these actions, he faces 10 to 15 years in prison or life in prison.”
More than 10,000 war crimes have been registered with the prosecutor general’s office so far.
The UN officially estimates that 3,381 Ukrainians have been killed in the conflict that started 24 February.
The UN Human Rights Monitoring Mission in Ukraine, however, has said the actual toll could be “thousands higher”.
Most deaths have occurred from the use of explosive weapons “with a wide impact area such as missiles and air strikes”.