The first trial of a Russian soldier accused of war crimes for killing a Ukrainian civilian during Moscow’s unprovoked invasion has opened in Kyiv.
Dozens of journalists packed inside a small courtroom in the Ukrainian capital, where the suspect appeared in a small glass cage for the start of a trial that has drawn international attention amid accusations of repeated atrocities by Russian forces.
Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is accused of killing a 62-year-old civilian who was riding a bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka in the northeastern region of Sumy, a crime for which he could get life in prison.
The killing occurred just days after Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Shishimarin, a member of a tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces, admitted that he shot the civilian in a video posted by the Security Service of Ukraine.
“I was ordered to shoot,” said Shishimarin, of the February 28 killing. “I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going.”
Shishimarin’s video statement is “one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders,” according to the Ukrainian security service.
Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova last month identified 10 soldiers of the 64th Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the Russian armed forces, saying that they are suspected of “cruelty toward civilians and other war crimes,” adding that Ukrainian investigators are continuing to gather evidence and those named were just the first.
She also said at the time that investigations were under way to find out if the 10 Russians took part in the killing of civilians in Bucha.
The retreat of Russian forces from Bucha and other towns near Kyiv revealed harrowing evidence of brutal killings, torture, mass graves, and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians in the fighting.
On May 12, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) overwhelmingly approved a resolution to set up an investigation into allegations of abuses by Russian troops in areas of Ukraine they temporarily controlled.
The UNHRC’s resolution cited apparent cases of torture, shootings, and sexual violence, along with other atrocities documented by a UN team on the ground.