Russian soldier, 21, who claims he was ordered to shoot Ukrainian villager is jailed for life

A Russian soldier who admitted murdering an unarmed 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian has been sentenced to life in prison in the first war crimes trial of the conflict.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin shot the man through an open car window in the eastern village of Chupakhivka, about 85 miles from Kharkiv.

The tank commander, 21, pleaded guilty at a Kyiv district court to firing shots at the man on 28 February, four days after the Russian invasion.

Shishimarin, who was wearing a blue and grey hooded sweatshirt, watched proceedings silently from a reinforced glass box in the courtroom this morning.

He showed no emotion as the verdict was read out.


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Ukrainian state prosecutors said the soldier and four other Russian servicemen fired at and stole a car to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

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When they arrived in Chupakhivka, about 200 miles east of Kyiv, they saw a man cycling and talking on his phone.

They said Shishimarin was ordered by another serviceman to kill the civilian to prevent him from raising the alarm that Russians were in the village.

Shishimarin killed the man metres from his home, firing an assault rifle several times through the open window of the car at his head.

'I was ordered to shoot'

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First war crimes trial since the invasion of Ukraine

The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, posted a video earlier this month of Shishimarin describing how he shot the man.

"I was ordered to shoot. I shot one [round] at him. He falls. And we kept on going," he said.

The soldier's defence lawyer, Viktor Ovsiannikov, told the court that Shishimarin had initially refused to fire the shots, but was given the order twice and so carried out the shooting out of fear for his own safety.

Only one out of three or four rounds had hit the target, he said.

"He was sitting at the window of a car… the car was moving at high speed with a punctured tyre," Mr Ovsiannikov said.

"I personally think that it should not be this young man in the dock, but the senior leadership of the other country that I think is guilty of unleashing this war."

Shishimarin was prosecuted under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.

Vadim Shishimarin
Image: Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty during the war crimes trial last week

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The trial has had huge symbolic significance for Ukraine, which has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the war.

It also said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia has denied its troops targeted civilians and accused Kyiv of staging the atrocities in an attempt to smear its forces.

The Kremlin has not immediately commented on the verdict of the trial.

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