Radio Free Europe

RFE/RL journalists report the news in 22 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established, including Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Russia.

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Russian Soldier Accused Of War Crimes Pleads Guilty In Kyiv.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, sits inside a defendants' cage during a court hearing in Kyiv on May 13.

Vadim Shishimarin, 21, sits inside a defendants' cage during a court hearing in Kyiv on May 13.

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 for the crime.

The killing occurred just days after Russia launched its unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. The 21-year-old Shishimarin, a member of a tank unit that was captured by Ukrainian forces, admitted that he shot the civilian in a video posted by Ukraine's Security Service.

"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."

Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova last month identified 10 soldiers of Russia's 64th Mechanized Infantry Brigade, saying they were suspected of "cruelty toward civilians and other war crimes," that investigators were 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.

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