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Russian soldier jailed for life for killing civilian in Ukraine, lawyer prepares appeal

by Anna MyroniukMay 23, 2022 4:00 pm
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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)

A Kyiv court sentenced Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, to life in prison for killing a civilian in Sumy Oblast during the Russian troops’ retreat on Feb. 28. 

Shishimarin pleaded guilty to fatally shooting his victim, adding that he didn’t want to kill him. While the defense asked for the soldier’s acquittal, the judges on May 23 ruled that he is guilty of a war crime and deserves the harshest available punishment. 

“Even though the defendant said he did not intend to kill, the court does not trust these claims and believes there was an intent,” said judge Serhiy Ahafonov.

Shishimarin is the first Russian soldier convicted of a war crime in Ukraine.

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

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 23, 2022. (Anna Myroniuk)

As of May 23, the Prosecutor General’s Office said it was investigating 12,909 alleged Russian war crimes.

Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on May 23 that 4,600 civilians, including 232 children, have been killed in Ukraine since Russia began its all-out-war on Feb. 24. According to the United Nations, at least 2,345 civilians have been killed in Ukraine. 

Shishimarin shot 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov in the head in the village of Chupakhivka. He said he was following a fellow soldier’s order. 

The order constitutes a war crime, as it violates the Geneva Conventions, which protect the civilian population during war, Ahafonov said. Moreover, the order came from a soldier who was not Shishimarin’s commanding officer and whom he did not know. 

“He was not obligated to carry out that order,” Ahafonov said.

An interpreter translates the judgment for Vadim Shishimarin from Ukrainian to the Russian language during the trial in Kyiv court on May 23, 2022. Shishimarin was changed with a war crime for killing a civilian in Ukraine a few days after Russia had begun its all-out war on Feb. 24. (Anna Myroniuk)

Shishimarin’s lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, who asked the court to acquit his defendant despite him pleading guilty, said he would appeal. 

“The actions of my defendant have been judged incorrectly,” Ovsyannikov said. The lawyer believes Shishimarin did not commit a war crime but didn't say what kind of crime he believes the soldier committed. 

Read more: Defense asks court to acquit Russian soldier accused of war crimes

The court said that it also chose the harshest punishment for Shishimarin because he breached the territorial integrity of Ukraine by participating in the Russian invasion and killed a noncombatant senior citizen.

Anna Myroniuk
Anna Myroniuk
Head of investigations

Anna Myroniuk is the head of investigations at the Kyiv Independent. Anna has run investigative projects on human rights, healthcare and illicit trade. She investigated presidents and oligarchs. She has written for New York Times, Washington Post, Coda Story and OCCRP. Anna holds a Masters in Investigative Journalism from the City University of London. She is a Chevening Scholar, a finalist of the 2020 Thomson Foundation Young Journalist Award, an honoree of the 2022 Forbes 30 Under 30 Europe Media & Marketing list, the runner-up in the investigative reporting category of the 2022 European Press Prize, and the finalist of the 2022 National Investigative Journalism Award of Ukraine.

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