- 21-year-old Russian soldier Vadim Shysimarin is accused of killing of an unarmed civilian near Kyiv.
- Prosecutors say he was ordered to shoot the man through an open car window in February.
- The trial, set to start Friday, is the first war crimes trial in Ukraine since Russia’s invasion.
A 21-year-old Russian soldier is the first to stand trial for war crimes committed during the invasion of Ukraine, according to Ukrainian officials.
Tank commander Vadim Shysimarin is accused of the murder of a 62-year-old unarmed civilian in Chupakhivka, a village in northeast Ukraine’s Sumy region, Prosecutor General Irina Venedyktova announced.
Venedyktova said that on February 28, Shysimarin shot at the man —who was on a bicycle and talking on the phone — from an open car window.
Shysimarin and four other Russian soldiers had been fleeing Ukrainian forces and fired at and stole a car to escape, Venedyktova wrote. As the car drove away, Shysimarin was ordered “to kill [the] civilian so that he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders,” she alleged.
Shysimarin is in Ukrainian custody and is due to make his first court appearance Friday, The Guardian reported.
“Investigators have gathered enough evidence of his involvement in violating the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder,” Venedyktova wrote. It would mean 10 to 15 years imprisonment, or potentially a life sentence, she said.
Shysimarin appeared in a short video posted on May 4 by Ukraine’s security service, in which he described the shooting, the Associated Press reported.
“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.”
Venedyktova did not identify the alleged victim or the soldier who gave Shyshimarin the order.
Volodymyr Yavorskyy from Kyiv’s Center for Civil Liberties, a prominent human rights group, said the trial would be monitored and Shysimarin’s rights protected, according to the AP.
Venedyktova has earlier alleged thousands of war crimes since the outbreak of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war with Ukraine. As of Friday, her office said it is investigating 10,700 potential crimes relating to 600 suspects, according to Sky News.
She has called Putin “the main war criminal of the 21st century.”
Soon after Russia invaded, the International Criminal Court announced it would begin an investigation into war crimes, at the urging of 39 countries.
In April, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, commented that in the war “international humanitarian law has not merely been ignored but seemingly tossed aside.”
A single UN mission in April in Bucha, a city just outside of Kyiv, documented the unlawful killing of 50 civilians, including by summary execution, Bachelet’s statement said.