‘Shot him at short range’: Russian soldier during first war crime trial

Published on May 19, 2022 10:46 PM IST
  • During the hearing, 21-year-old Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin asked the widow of the Ukrainian civilian he killed to “forgive” him.
Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin stands in court during a hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna)
Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin stands in court during a hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, Thursday, May 19, 2022. (AP Photo/Roman Hrytsyna)
Written by Sharangee Dutta | Edited by Sohini Goswami, New Delhi

Ukrainian prosecutors on Thursday requested life sentence for 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin, the first Russian soldier to stand trial for war crimes in the east-European country, AFP reported. The prosecution asked the judge to sentence Shishimarin to “life imprisonment” for killing 62-year-old civilian Oleksandr Shelipov during the first days of Russia’s offensive in Ukraine.

During the court hearing, Shishimarin, who pleaded guilty to the war crimes on Wednesday, asked the victim's widow, Kateryna Shelipova, for “forgiveness”. “I know that you will not be able to forgive me, but nevertheless I ask you for forgiveness,” he said.

Narrating the events of the crime, Shishimarin, attached to a tank division, said that when he and many other Russian troops were retreating to rejoin their units in Russia, another soldier had put pressure on him to execute the killing.

The 21-year-old Russian soldier said he and his colleagues saw Oleksandr talking on the phone when they were driving, and insisted that the victim could have sent their location to Ukrainian forces. Shishimarin added that another soldier in the car, who was not his commander and whom he called an “unknown” soldier, “told me to shoot”.

He said that initially he had declined the shooting order and only complied when the “unknown” soldier pestered him for the same in a “forceful tone”.

“I shot him (Oleksandr) at short range,” Shishimarin told the court.

The killing occurred near the northeastern village of Chupakhivka on February 28, four days into Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Giving more details to the court, Shishimarin, dressed in a grey and blue hoodie, said the Russian troops then took a civilian captive as they retreated into the forest, alleging they did not cause him any harm. The Russians then “voluntarily” gave themselves up to the Ukrainian forces, the AFP report added.

Kateryna informed the court that she “heard the shot” that killed her husband while getting water from a well. She then saw a car and a young man inside the vehicle with a rifle. “I remember him well,” she added, referring to Shishimarin.

Kateryna also asked Shishimarin what her husband had done to him. “What did you come here for, to free us from what?”

Another captive Russian soldier who was in the car on the day with Shishimarin told the court that the unknown serviceman “shouted in a commanding tone” to the 21-year-old to shoot the Ukrainian civilian.

Both soldiers – Matysov and Shishimarin – said the “unknown” man was not a more senior officer, implying that Shishimarin was not obliged to follow the order to shoot.

The Kremlin, meanwhile, said on Wednesday that it was not informed of Shishimarin's case. His lawyer said he had not had any contact with Russian officials.

Kyiv prosecutors said they know of at least 10,000 incidents of such civilian shootings. However, Russia has repeatedly denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes since the beginning of its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

The war trial at a Ukrainian court opened last week.

(With inputs from agencies)

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