A military court in Rostov-on-Don sentenced Anton Cherednik, a captured Ukrainian naval infantry soldier, to 19 years in prison for allegedly killing a civilian, the court's press service announced on Nov. 8.
The court alleged that, while on patrol near Mariupol in March 2022, Cherednik stopped a pair of civilians. The soldier allegedly asked them to pronounce "palianytsia," the Ukrainian word for a specific type of bread, and sometimes used by Ukrainian soldiers as a language test to identify Russian soldiers or saboteurs.
When one of the men failed to pronounce the word correctly, Cherednik allegedly shot him to death, the court claimed.
The Russian court charged Cherednik with the mistreatment of civilians, murder on the grounds of racial or national hatred, "violent seizure of power," and "undergoing training for the purpose of carrying out terrorist activities."
During the interrogations, Cherednik reportedly admitted to shooting the civilian but said the incident occurred because the man acted suspiciously and flinched as if pulling out a weapon, the Ukrainian outlet Graty reported.
Cherednik said he did not force the civilian to say the Ukrainian word and that Russia is trying to fabricate evidence for the national hatred charges.
Cherednik's court-appointed lawyer said he would appeal the sentence.
The Kyiv Independent could not verify the veracity of the charges as Russia regularly uses trumped-up accusations and lengthy prison sentences to oppress both domestic opposition and Ukrainian citizens in occupied territories or those who otherwise end up in the hands of Russian authorities.
Cherednik, a soldier of the 36th Marine Brigade, was captured during the siege of Mariupol. He is currently being held in a detention center in southern Rostov Oblast and is denied contact with family or independent lawyers, the Moscow Times reported.
At least 42 captured Ukrainian soldiers face trial in Russia, according to Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
During a trial in August, a Russian-controlled court in occupied Donetsk Oblast sentenced two Mariupol defenders from the Azovstal Batallion to 24 years in prison. A Territorial Defense trooper was sentenced to 21 years for the alleged killing of a civilian.