A Russian soldier accused of war crimes in Ukraine pleaded guilty on Wednesday (May 18) to killing an elderly unarmed civilian.
Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian tank commander, entered his plea in a Kyiv district court hearing its first war crimes trial against a Russian soldier who took part in Moscow’s Feb. 24 invasion.
In a trial that has huge symbolic importance for Kyiv, Shishimarin is charged with murdering a 62-year-old civilian in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka on Feb. 28. If convicted, he faces up to life imprisonment.
Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.
Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes and accused Kyiv of staging them to smear its forces.
After guards led Shishimarin into the court in handcuffs, he was asked by the judge if he accepted the charge against him. He confirmed that he did.
Ukrainian state prosecutors have said Shishimarin and four other Russian servicemen fired at and stole a privately owned car to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.
The Russian soldiers drove into the village of Chupakhivka where they saw an unarmed resident riding a bicycle and talking on his phone, they said.
They said Shishimarin was ordered by another serviceman to kill the civilian to prevent him reporting on the Russians’ presence and fired several shots through the open window of the car with an assault rifle at the civilian’s head, killing him instantly.