Russian soldier accused of killing civilian pleads guilty in Kyiv court
By Valerie Hopkins
A Russian soldier pleaded guilty in a Kyiv court Wednesday of having shot a civilian, in the first trial that Ukraine has conducted for an act that could be considered a war crime since Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
The soldier, Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, pleaded guilty to shooting a 62-year-old man on a bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka in the Sumy region, about 200 miles east of Kyiv, four days after Russia’s invasion began Feb. 24.
Asked by the presiding judge whether he accepted his guilt, Shyshimarin said: “Yes. Fully yes.”
The trial has drawn widespread media and public interest. On Wednesday, the courtroom and an overflow room were crowded with members of the local and international news media, and the trial is being broadcast on YouTube.
The prosecutor, Andriy Sinyuk, described the hearing as an “unprecedented procedure” in which “a serviceman of a different country is accused of murdering a civilian of Ukraine.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed the proceedings Wednesday, telling reporters that accusations leveled against Russian soldiers by Ukraine were “simply fake or staged.”
“We still have no information,” Peskov said. “And the ability to provide assistance due to the lack of our diplomatic mission there is also very limited.”
The hearing takes place as Ukraine seeks the transfer of its own soldiers who were evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol in recent days. The fighters, more than 50 of whom were “seriously injured,” are currently in Russian custody.
Ukraine hopes to trade the soldiers for Russian prisoners of war. Neither Moscow nor Kyiv has released details about a potential prisoner exchange. But any prisoner transfer could complicate the efforts of Ukrainian prosecutors to hold Russians suspected of war crimes accountable.