Russian soldier admits killing civilian in first war crimes trial of Ukraine conflict

18 May 2022, 13:13 | Updated: 18 May 2022, 16:09

Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian.
Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin has pleaded guilty to killing an unarmed civilian. Picture: Alamy/Ukrainian Attorney General

By Sophie Barnett

A Russian soldier accused of killing an unarmed civilian has pleaded guilty in the first war crimes trial since the country's invasion of Ukraine.

Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is accused of gunning down an unarmed 62-year-old man on February 28, in the northeast Ukrainian village of Chupakhivka.

The Russian tank commander, who is being held in Kyiv, pleaded guilty on Wednesday and faces life in prison.

The man who was killed is Oleksandr Shelikov, who was 62 years old, reports say.

Journalists reporting from the court on Wednesday said the victim’s widow wiped away tears as the Russian soldier was led in to the defendant box wearing handcuffs.

Read more: Russia 'may execute captured Ukrainian PoWs', Armed Forces minister warns

Read more: Russia writes chilling messages on bombs set for Mariupol after Eurovision plea for help

The trial is the first case of its kind since Russia's invasion in February.

It took place with an interpreter translating the proceedings into Russian for the defendant.

"More weapons, more sanctions, until Ukrainians prevail," Truss says

Ukrainian state prosecutors 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.

Read more: Tube strike to cause travel chaos for Queen's Platinum Jubilee weekend

Read more: Inflation soars to 40-year high as Sunak 'plans income tax cuts and to slash energy bills'

A number of Russian soldiers will face war crime trials for targeting civilians in Ukraine.
A number of Russian soldiers will face war crime trials for targeting civilians in Ukraine. Picture: Alamy

Read more: Detective on £40k 'struggles to feed her child at end of month' amid cost of living crisis

Prosecutors say Shishimarin was ordered by another soldier to kill the civilian to prevent him reporting on the Russians' presence.

They say he fired several shots through the open window of the car with an assault rifle at the civilian's head.

The civilian died on the spot.

The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, posted a short video on May 4 of Shyshimarin speaking in front of a camera and briefly describing how he shot the man. The SBU described the video as "one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders".

"I was ordered to shoot," Shyshimarin said. "I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going."

Security Minister welcomes fact Russian war crime will be investigated

Prosecutors say more trials could be forthcoming, after identifying thousands of potential crimes committed by Russian forces.

Moscow has denied its troops have targeted civilians.

Ukrainian prosecutor general Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was readying war crimes cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offences that included bombing civilian infrastructure, killing civilians, rape and looting.

It was not immediately clear how many of the suspects were in Ukrainian hands and how many would be tried in absentia.

Investigators have been collecting evidence of possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Read more: Blood rain, hail and lightning to batter UK as huge plume of Saharan dust hits Britain

Read more: PM says Government is 'helping people in any way we can' as he's grilled on windfall tax

Ms Venediktova's office has said it was looking into more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.

With help from foreign experts, prosecutors are investigating allegations that Russian troops violated Ukrainian and international law by killing, torturing and abusing possibly thousands of Ukrainian civilians.

Russia is believed to be preparing war crime trials for Ukrainian soldiers.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Survivors of the attack are set to sue MI5

Hundreds of survivors of Manchester Arena bombing to sue MI5

The UK is set to experience some warm, dry weather

Two-week period when Brits to bask in warm, dry weather revealed, after cold period ahead

Lennix died after being hit by a car on Saturday

Parents of 'bubbly and kind' boy, 8, killed in crash while riding scooter on quiet Wiltshire road, pay tribute to son

The Israeli Iron Dome air defence system launches to intercept missiles fired from Iran

Israel hails ‘success’ in blocking Iran’s unprecedented attack

Damien Guerot stepped in in Sydney

Builder who wielded bollard to defend children from rampaging Sydney knifeman says attacker's 'eyes were empty'

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel approves plan of attack after foiling massive Iran onslaught, as world leaders call for 'stabilisation'

The G7 have condemned the Iran attack on Israel

G7 leaders condemn Iran's 'unprecedented' attack on Israel and say they 'stand ready to take further measures'

Russia Ukraine War

More civilians die in Ukraine amid warning US aid delays will hamper Kyiv forces

The minibus lying on its side

Seventeen rushed to hospital after bus carrying football fans overturns on motorway in multiple car smash

Bill Nighy

Bill Nighy and Paloma Faith join celebrities demanding Government act over Sudan

Dawn Singleton was among six victims of the stabbings

Victim of Sydney stabbings 'bought wedding dress days earlier' and was preparing to send out invitations

The IDF said over 300 weapons were fired by Iran.

Israel says Iran conflict 'not over' and vows to 'collect a price when timing is right', as US urges restraint

Poland Abortion

Polish opponents of abortion march against recent steps to liberalise strict law

A boy, 8, was killed in the incident.

Boy, 8, dies after crash on quiet Wiltshire cul-de-sac

Five of the six victims from the stabbing have been named.

Victims of Sydney stabbings named as heartbroken tributes flood in following attack by knifeman who killed six

Rishi Sunak confirmed a number of Iranian drones attacking Israel were shot down by RAF jets.

RAF jets shot down ‘a number’ of Iranian drones attacking Israel, Rishi Sunak says