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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.
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.
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.
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.