August 11, 2022

A Russian soldier went on trial in Ukraine Friday for the killing of an unarmed civilian, marking the first war crimes case since Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion.

Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, 21, a member of a Russian tank unit, is accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka during the first week of the war.

After the soldier’s capture, the Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, posted a short video on May 4 of Shyshimarin describing on camera how he shot the man. The SBU described the video as “one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders.”

“I was ordered to shoot,” said Shyshimarin, wearing a blue and gray hooded sweatshirt. “I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going.”

Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 13, 2022.
AP
Shyshimarin previously admitted that he shot the elderly civilian.
Shyshimarin previously admitted that he shot the elderly civilian.
AP

On Friday, journalists and cameras packed inside a small courtroom at the Solomyanskyy district court in Kyiv, where Shyshimarin appeared in a small glass cage wearing a blue and grey outfit.

Shyshimarin faces up to life in prison, if convicted of the charges against him under Ukrainian laws pertaining to war.

Ukraine’s Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova’s office has said it is looking into more than 10,000 potential war crimes, including killings and cases of torture, involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.

An overview of Azovstal steel plant is shown in Mariupol, a territory under the government of the Donetsk People's Republic in eastern Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
An overview of Azovstal steel plant is shown in Mariupol, a territory under the government of the Donetsk People’s Republic in eastern Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
AP
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, arrives for a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 13, 2022.
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, arrives for a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine on May 13, 2022.
AP
A truck transports a platform with a Ukrainian self-propelled artillery vehicle in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
A truck transports a platform with a Ukrainian self-propelled artillery vehicle in the Donetsk region of Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
AP

The judges and lawyers in Shyshimarin’s case discussed procedural matters briefly before the judges left the courtroom and then returned to say the proceedings would continue on another day.

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Defense attorney Victor Ovsyanikov acknowledged that the case against the soldier is strong but said the final decision over what evidence to allow will be made by the court in Kyiv.

As the first war-crimes case in Ukraine since the start of the war 11 weeks ago, Shyshimarin’s prosecution is being watched closely.

Municipal workers prepare a new tube to restore water supply in front of a building damaged by a Russian attack in Bahmut, Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
Municipal workers prepare a new tube to restore water supply in front of a building damaged by a Russian attack in Bahmut, Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
AP

Many of the alleged atrocities were uncovered last month after Moscow’s forces gave up on trying to capture Kyiv and withdrew from around the capital, leaving behind mass graves and bodies left in the streets in town such as Bucha

On Feb. 28, four days after Russia invaded Ukraine, Shyshimarin was among a group of Russian troops that had been defeated by Ukrainian forces, according to Venediktova’s account. 

As the Russians fled, they fired at a private car and seized the vehicle. They then drove to Chupahivka, a village in the Sumy region about 200 miles east of Kyiv.

Donetsk People Republic Emergency crews clear rubble near a damaged building in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
Donetsk People Republic Emergency crews clear rubble near a damaged building in Mariupol, Ukraine, on May 12, 2022.
AP

On the way, Venediktova said, the Russian soldiers saw a man walking on the sidewalk and talking on his phone.

Shyshimarin was ordered to kill the man so he wouldn’t be able to report them to Ukrainian military authorities.

 Shyshimarin fired his Kalashnikov rifle through the open window and hit the victim in the head.

“The man died on the spot just a few dozen meters from his house,” Venediktova wrote.

With Post Wires