The New York TimesThe New York Times

Russian Soldier Pleads Guilty in Kyiv to Violating ‘Laws and Customs of War’

By Valerie Hopkins

18 May 2022 · 3 min read

A Russian soldier pleaded guilty in a Kyiv court on Wednesday to having fatally shot a civilian, in the first trial 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 full-scale invasion began on Feb. 24. He faces 10 years to life in prison. Asked by the presiding judge whether he accepted his guilt, Sergeant Shyshimarin, 21, said, “Yes.” “Fully?” the judge asked. “Yes,” the sergeant replied. The sergeant had admitted to Ukrainian investigators that he had pulled trigger of the Kalashnikov rifle that killed the man, Oleksandar Shelipov, prosecutors said. He told investigators in a videotaped statement that he and four other servicemen had stolen a car at gunpoint and were fleeing from Ukrainian forces when they spotted Mr. Shelipov on a bicycle, talking on a phone. He said he was ordered to kill the man so he would not report them.

“I was ordered to shoot, I fired an automatic burst at him, he fell. We drove on,” Sergeant Shyshimarin told the Ukrainian Intelligence Services. The sergeant had been charged under a Ukrainian statute with violating “the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder,” Ukrainian prosecutors said. The trial had drawn widespread interest, and even though Sergeant Shyshimarin entered a guilty plea, prosecutors plan to present all the evidence against him on Thursday. On Wednesday, the courtroom and an overflow room were crowded with members of the local and international news media, and the proceedings were being broadcast on YouTube. Kateryna Shelipova, the widow of the man who was fatally shot, was also in court on Wednesday. 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.”

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