Russian soldiers patrol a street on April 11 in Volnovakha in the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR). The photo was taken during a trip organized by the Russian military. (Alexander Nemenov / AFP)

  • Vadim Shishimarin is accused of killing a 62-year-old man in northeastern Ukraine on February 28.
  • Shishimarin, 21, has been charged with war crimes and premeditated murder.
  • He faces a possible life sentence.

A Russian serviceman has pleaded guilty to killing a Ukrainian civilian in the early stages of the Moscow invasion during the first war crimes trial since the start of the war.

The hearing in Kyiv’s packed courtroom is the first in a series of lawsuits launched by Ukraine against Russian servicemen accused of atrocities by Kyiv and its Western allies.

They are also a public inspection of Ukraine’s judiciary at a time when international institutions are simultaneously investigating abuses allegedly perpetrated by Russian forces.

Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin is accused of killing a 62-year-old man in northeastern Ukraine on February 28, just four days after the Russian invasion.

A 21-year-old resident of the Siberian region of Irkutsk in eastern Russia has been sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder and premeditated murder.

Asked in court whether he was guilty of murdering a civilian elderly man, the sergeant replied “yes”.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Kremlin said it had “no information on the case.”

“Moscow’s ability to provide assistance due to the absence of our diplomatic mission there is also very limited,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

Dressed in a blue-gray hoodie, the young-looking soldier with a shaved head stared at the ground while the prosecutor read out the charges to him in Ukrainian.

DEVELOPMENT | Russian serviceman pleads guilty to killing civilian in first war crimes trial during Ukrainian invasion

The military’s lawyer Viktar Ovsyannikov said he would build his case after hearing “witness testimony” and described the process as unprecedented.

“This is the first criminal case of this type in Ukraine. Judges have not passed such verdicts before, ”he said after the hearing.

“When we talk about murder, there are several articles in our law that punish this kind of action.”

– ‘I’m sending a clear signal –

He added that he had not contacted anyone in Russia in this case, except for Shishimarin’s mother.

“No Russian officials have consulted with me. I have given her all the necessary explanations,” he said.

Earlier, Ukrainian authorities said that the Russian military is cooperating with investigators.

Prosecutor Andrei Sinyuk told reporters that two witnesses would be brought to testify in court, including one of the Russian servicemen who was with Shishimarin at the time of the incident.

A soldier’s weapon will also be investigated as part of the investigation, he said.

Prosecutors say Shishimarin was in command of a tank division when his convoy was attacked.

He and four other servicemen stole a car and collided with a 62-year-old man on a bicycle while driving near the village of Chupahauka in the Sumy region.

The prosecutor’s office said:

One of the servicemen ordered the accused to kill a civilian so that he would not report them.

Shishimarin then fired a Kalashnikov from a car window, and “the man died instantly, a few dozen meters from his home,” they added.

Ukrainian authorities announced the arrest of the soldier earlier in May, along with a video in which Shishimarin said he was fighting to “financially support his mother.”

Chief Prosecutor of Ukraine Irina Venediktov said on Twitter that “more than 11,000 ongoing war crimes cases and already 40 suspects.”

“With this first trial, we are sending a clear signal that every criminal, every person who ordered or assisted in committing crimes in Ukraine, will not escape responsibility,” she said.

The head of the Ukrainian Helsinki Group for Human Rights Alexander Paulichenko said that in the case of Shishimarin “motivation is not only legal but also political.”

According to him, the question is whether Ukraine will have a “real trial or just a game for the public.”

The trial will continue on Thursday, when the court of central Ukraine is waiting for two more Russian servicemen for rocket fire on civilian infrastructure in the northeast of Kharkiv region.

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