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Kyiv refuses to release first Russian soldier convicted of war crimes in POW exchange

by Kateryna Denisova July 3, 2024 7:36 PM 2 min read
Vadim Shishimarin of the Russian army appears at a sentencing hearing on May 23, 2022 in Kyiv, Ukraine. (Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)
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Ukraine has no plans currently to exchange Vadim Shishimarin — the first Russian soldier convicted of war crimes after the start of the full-scale invasion — in a prisoner swap with Moscow, the Prosecutor General's Office said.

A court in Kyiv sentenced in May 2022 Shishimarin, a 21-year-old sergeant, to life in prison in the first verdict related to war crimes committed by Russia during its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

According to the prosecution, in late February 2022, Shishimarin killed a 62-year-old civilian in Ukraine’s northern Sumy Oblast during Moscow’s retreat. Shishimarin's prison sentence was later reduced to 15 years.

Kyiv denied a request by Russia to include the soldier in a prisoner swap as it is currently not planning to exchange him, War Crimes Department Head in the General Prosecutor's Office Yurii Belousov told Ukrinform. He also said that Kyiv has not ruled out swapping him in the future.

According to Belousov, 17 Russian servicemen have been sentenced by Ukrainian courts for war crimes. A possible exchange of each of them is being considered separately, he added.

"If our people were not there (in Russia's captivity), the issue would be different, but if we consider that our people are there, then this must be taken into account," Belousov said.

"I do not rule out the possibility that such swaps could potentially take place. But, according to the general rules, we do not exchange those who have committed serious crimes, because this is the principled position of the Prosecutor General's Office."

Kyiv aims to conduct an all-for-all prisoner exchange, which was one of the subjects at Ukraine's peace summit in Switzerland in mid-June.

One hundred Ukrainians, 90 soldiers and 10 civilians, were released during the last prisoner swap, which concluded on June 28. A total of 3,310 Ukrainians have been freed from Russian captivity.

Ombudsman: More than 14,000 Ukrainian civilians in Russian captivity
More than 14,000 Ukrainian civilians are being held in Russian captivity, Ukraine’s Chief Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said on June 29.

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