Russian soldier on trial for war crimes in Ukraine admits killing unarmed 62-year-old civilian

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A Russian soldier has pleaded guilty to murdering a 62-year-old civilian in northeastern Ukraine in the first war crimes trial of the conflict.

Vadim Shishimarin is accused of shooting an unarmed resident through an open car window as Russian soldiers drove into the village of Chupakhiva – four days into the invasion.

He admitted the 28 February killing as proceedings got under way on Wednesday at a Kyiv district court.

The 21-year-old Russian tank commander could face life in prison.

Russia has denied its troops have targeted civilians.

Ukrainian state prosecutors said the soldier and four other Russian servicemen fired at and stole a privately owned car to escape after their column was targeted by Ukrainian forces.

As they arrived in Chupakhivka, which is situated about 200 miles east of Kyiv, they saw a resident cycling and talking on his phone.

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They said Shishimarin was ordered by another serviceman to kill the civilian to prevent him from reporting on the Russians’ presence.

He fired several shots through the open window of the car with an assault rifle at the civilian’s head. He died a few metres from his home.

The Security Service of Ukraine, known as the SBU, posted a short video earlier this month of Shishimarin describing how he shot the man.

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

The SBU described the video as “one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders”.

Shishimarin, a captured member of a Russian tank unit, was prosecuted under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.

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.

Moscow has denied the allegations and accused Kyiv of staging them to smear its forces.

Ukrainian Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was preparing cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offences including killing civilians, rape, bombing civilian infrastructure and looting.

It is unclear how many of the suspects have been detained in Ukraine or would be tried in absentia.

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

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