Skip to content
Edit post

Defense asks court to acquit Russian soldier accused of war crimes

by Anna Myroniuk May 20, 2022 3:33 PM 3 min read
Vadim Shishimarin, 21, the first Russian soldier, on trial for a war crime in Ukraine since Russia began its all-out war on Feb. 24. in Kyiv court on May 20, 2022. (Anna Myroniuk)
This audio is created with AI assistance

Days after Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian, his lawyer asked for the defendant to be acquitted.

“He does not deny that he fired a shot. (Yet) he did not know whether he killed this person,” lawyer Viktor Ovsyannikov told the judges during the third day of litigation.

“If he had realized that, what was the point for him to surrender himself?” Ovsyannikov added.

Shishimarin, a sergeant in the Russian army, is accused of killing 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov as his unit was retreating from Ukraine’s northern Sumy Oblast.

Shishimarin shot him in the head. On May 18, he pledged guilty and said he was ready for any punishment. Now, the soldier’s defense says he was ordered to shoot by his superior and didn’t intend to kill.

The prosecution doesn’t agree, seeking a life sentence for what, if proven guilty, constitutes a war crime.


On Feb. 28, Shishimarin and four of his comrades in arms were driving a stolen civilian car through the village of Chupakhivka in Sumy Oblast near Ukraine’s northern border with Russia.

Local villager, Shelipov, was on the street talking by phone. Shishimarin took his Kalashnikov assault rifle and shot him in the head from a car window.

Soon, after being ambushed by Ukrainian hunters, lacking the means to leave Ukraine, Shishimarin surrendered.

Read more: First Russian soldier standing trial for war crime in Ukraine asks for forgiveness, faces life imprisonment

According to Ovsyannikov, Shishimarin was ordered to shoot Shelipov by superiors and had to obey.

“He was pressured by two people who he perceived as his commanders in that circumstance,” Ovsyannikov said.

Ovsyannikov added that Shishimarin did not want to kill Shelipov.

“He did not have the intention to kill him. His shots were not aimed. He carried out the order pro forma, not with an intention to kill a person,” the lawyer went on.

“I sincerely regret what I did. At that moment, I was nervous, there were hostilities. I did not want to kill. But it happened...” Shishimarin said, once again asking for forgiveness.

The prosecutors, however, argued that Shishimarin did not have to obey orders coming from his fellow soldiers as they were from another unit, and he was not their subordinate.

“There is no clause in the military regulations of the Russian Federation saying that a soldier can kill a civilian,” prosecutor Yaroslav Ushyapivskiy said.

“Shishimarin realized that the order was to kill that man and still carried it out, firing his machine gun three or four times,” the prosecutor added.

“He deliberately killed a civilian,” Ushyapivskiy went on.

Serhiy Agafonov, a judge, sits at a trial of a Russian soldier accused of killing a civilian during Russia's retreat from Ukraine in Kyiv on May 20, 2022. (Anna Myroniuk)

The court is set to make a judgment on May 23.

Ovsyannikov, however, is already preparing to appeal, adding that if it will be necessary, he’ll bring Shishimarin’s case to a European court.

Support independent journalism in Ukraine. Join us in this fight.
Freedom can be costly. Both Ukraine and its journalists are paying a high price for their independence. Support independent journalism in its darkest hour. Support us for as little as $1, and it only takes a minute.
visa masterCard americanExpress

News Feed

7:21 PM

Budanov: Russia's goals for 2024 same as previous two years.

Ukraine's military intelligence chief Kyrylo Budanov said that Russia’s goal is still to destroy Ukrainian statehood and reach the administrative border of Luhansk and Donetsk oblasts to “keep what they already have," but that they "have been unable to do (so) by military means."
6:23 PM

Budanov: Transnistria not planning to appeal to join Russia.

Concerns arose after the Institute for the Study of War issued a warning on Feb. 22 that Transnistria was possibly planning to organize a referendum on its annexation to Russia at an announced Transnistrian Congress of Deputies planned for Feb. 28.
Ukraine Daily
News from Ukraine in your inbox
Ukraine news
Please, enter correct email address
10:52 AM

Trump wins South Carolina primary.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump won South Carolina's primary, where Republicans voted for their preferred presidential candidate, results showed on Feb. 25.
2:42 AM

US philanthropist pledges $300 million for Ukraine in 2024.

The Howard G. Buffett Foundation has already donated over $500 million in humanitarian assistance to Ukraine since the start of Russia's full-scale invasion. The combined funds exceed the humanitarian aid contributions of the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Canada.

Editors' Picks

Enter your email to subscribe
Please, enter correct email address
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
* indicates required


* indicates required
Successfuly subscribed
Thank you for signing up for this newsletter. We’ve sent you a confirmation email.