Russian soldier sentenced to life in prison in Ukraine’s first war crimes trial since invasion

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, was sentenced on Monday

David Harding
Monday 23 May 2022 14:37
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<p>Vadim Shishimarin listens to his translator during a court hearing in Kyiv</p>

Vadim Shishimarin listens to his translator during a court hearing in Kyiv

A Ukrainian court has sentenced a Russian soldier to life in prison for killing an unarmed civilian in the first war crimes trial following Moscow’s invasion.

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old tank commander, pleaded guilty to killing Oleksandr Shelipov, 62, in the village of Chupakhivka, after being ordered to shoot him.

Last week, Shishimarin, from Irkutsk in Siberia, told the court he did not want to kill but would accept his fate.

He told the court that an officer insisted that the Ukrainian man, who was speaking on his mobile, could pinpoint their location to the Ukrainian forces.

During the trial, Shishimarin asked the victim’s widow Kateryna Shelipova – who attended the trial – to forgive him.

He said: “I realise that you can’t forgive me, but I’m pleading with you for forgiveness.”

Ms Shelipova said her husband – a pensioner and grandfather of two – had gone out to see a Russian tank that had been blown up. She added that she was “arguing with him, saying it was not safe to go out”.

“He said, ‘I’ll be fine, it is only round the corner, I’ll see you later’. Those were the last words he said to me,” she added.

Later, she heard gunfire outside their home and, when the shooting stopped, she left the building to find her husband of 39 years dead.

She said about her husband: “He was all to me. He was my defender.”

Shishimarin’s defence lawyer Victor Ovsyanikov argued that his client had been unprepared for the “violent military confrontation” and mass casualties that Russian troops encountered when they first invaded Ukraine.

Ukrainian prosecutors are investigating thousands of potential war crimes, as the world has pushed for Russia to be held accountable for its invasion.

Russian forces bombed a theatre where civilians were sheltering and struck a maternity hospital. In the wake of Moscow’s withdrawal from towns around Kyiv weeks ago, mass graves were discovered and streets were strewn with bodies in towns such as Bucha.

The war’s effects have also been felt well beyond Ukraine, pushing energy and food prices higher. The United Nations said the conflict has helped push the number of people displaced worldwide to the highest level on record, with more 100 million people driven from their homes across the globe.

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