Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin is seen in court in Kyiv while standing trial for war crimes on May 18.
The first Russian soldier to stand trial on accusations of committing a war crime in Ukraine has pleaded guilty at a hearing in a Kyiv court.
When asked in court on May 18 if he was guilty of killing a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian who was riding a bicycle in the village of Chupakhivka in the northeastern region of Sumy, Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, dressed in a blue and gray hoodie at the hearing, replied: "Yes."
Shishimarin, who comes from the Siberian region of Irkutsk, faces life in prison if convicted. Ukrainian state prosecutors say Shishimarin, 21, was ordered to kill the civilian to prevent him reporting on the Russians' presence. He fired several shots through an open car window, hitting the civilian in the head, according to the prosecution. Viktor Ovsyannikov, the soldier's lawyer, said he would build his case after hearing witness testimony and described the trial as without precedent. He added that he had not consulted with anyone in Russia about the case except Shishimarin's mother, and he "provided her with all the necessary explanations." Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia has no information about the trial, adding that Russia's ability to provide assistance is limited due to the absence of its diplomatic mission. The killing occurred just days after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Shishimarin, a member of a tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces, admitted that he shot the civilian in a video posted earlier this month by the Security Service of Ukraine. “I was ordered to shoot,” Shishimarin said in the video as he described the February 28 killing. “I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going.” Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova last month identified 10 soldiers of the 64th Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the Russian armed forces, saying that they are suspected of "cruelty toward civilians and other war crimes," adding that Ukrainian investigators are continuing to gather evidence and those named were just the first. She also said at the time that investigations were under way to find out if the 10 Russians took part in the killing of civilians in Bucha. The retreat of Russian forces from Bucha and other towns near Kyiv revealed harrowing evidence of brutal killings, torture, mass graves, and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians in the fighting. On May 12, the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) overwhelmingly approved a resolution to set up an investigation into allegations of abuses by Russian troops in areas of Ukraine they temporarily controlled. The UNHRC's resolution cited apparent cases of torture, shootings, and sexual violence, along with other atrocities documented by a UN team on the ground.