Vadim Shishimarin Trial: Russian Soldier Sentenced to Life in Ukraine’s First War Crimes Trial

Soldier Vadim Shishimarin pleaded guilty to shooting a 62-year-old civilian on the fourth day of the conflict at the end of February.

Before sentencing on Monday, the court said Shishimarin “committed a criminal offense” under international humanitarian law.

“[Shishimarin] I saw a civilian face of Alexander Shelipov on the sidewalk, the court said. “Shishimarin, knowing that Shelipov is a civilian, unarmed and does not pose a threat to him, fired several shots at Shelipov from an AK assault rifle.”

“The cause of Shelipov’s death was a shot to the head, which resulted in crushing of the skull,” the court added. The verdict can be appealed within 30 days.

Prosecutor Andrey Sunyuk raised the possibility of new war criminal trials against Russian servicemen and expressed hope that Shishimarin’s conviction would send a signal.

“I think that all other law enforcement agencies will follow the path that we have gone through,” he said.

“This will be a good example for other occupiers who may not yet be on our territory, but plan to come,” Sunyuk added. “Or for those who are here now and plan to stay and fight. Or maybe they will think it’s time to leave here for their own territory.”

Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Kremlin was “concerned” about Shishimarin and would look for ways to help him.

“Of course, we are concerned about the fate of our citizen,” Peskov told reporters during a regular conference call.

“We do not have many opportunities to protect his interests on the ground, since foreign institutions do not actually conduct any activity. [in Kyiv]. But this does not mean that we will not consider the possibility of making attempts through other channels, ”Peskov added, without specifying which channels he was talking about.

Earlier, Peskov said that Russia considers the accusations “unacceptable”, “outrageous” and “staged”.

Speaking on Friday, Shishimarin admitted he was responsible for the murder, but “regrets and sincerely repents.”

“I was nervous the moment it happened. I didn’t want to kill. But it happened, and I do not deny it,” he said.

Shishimarin’s lawyer Viktor Ovsyannikov argued that although his client was guilty of murder, it was not murder.

War crimes expert: Russian occupiers are crossing the line

“The Shishimarin was in a state of stress caused by the combat situation and pressure from his commander. An analysis of these circumstances allows us to conclude that Shishimarin did not have direct intent to kill, ”said Ovsyannikov.

Ovsyannikov tried to portray his client and other Russian servicemen as unwitting pawns in the Kremlin’s Machiavellian scheme.

The soldiers, according to Ovsyannikov, did not realize that their actions “would lead to mass deaths not only of military personnel, but also of civilians.”

Shishimarin, who appeared in court behind glass in a gray-blue top with a shaved head, spoke only a few times during the process.

He said he was “completely guilty” when he pleaded guilty on Wednesday and had to meet with his victim’s widow on Thursday.

The Shishimarin told her, “I understand that you won’t be able to forgive me, but I’m sorry.”

A woman asked a Russian soldier why he came to Ukraine, asking a rhetorical question: “Did you come to protect us? From whom? Did you protect me from my husband, whom you killed?”

“We were ordered to come with a column, I didn’t know what would happen next,” Shishimarin said.

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