Russian Soldier Sentenced to Life in Prison for Ukraine War Crime

Vadim Shishimarin, sentenced to life in prison in Ukraine

A court in Kyiv has sentenced a 21-year-old Russian soldier to life imprisonment in the first war crimes trial to take place following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Vadim Shishimarin, had earlier pleaded guilty to the murder of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian, 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelypov.

Shishimarin “fired several shots through the open window of the car with a Kalashnikov rifle into the head of the victim,” prosecutors said, adding that the victim had died just meters from his home.

Judges at the Solomyanka district court in Kyiv decided that the soldier’s crimes warranted the highest punishment possible under Ukrainian law. Capital punishment was abolished in the country in 2000.

Shishimarin’s lawyers said they would appeal against the life sentence. The soldier’s mitigation had been that he was following orders, something judge Serhiy Agafonov dismissed, calling the order “criminal” and ruling out any reduction in sentence.

“Given that the crime committed is a crime against peace, security, humanity, and the international legal order, the court does not see the possibility of imposing a shorter sentence,” he said.

Shishimarin’s case was the first war crimes trial following the February 24th invasion, and last week a second case began involving two Russian soldiers accused of attacks on civilians in the Kharkiv region. Both soldiers have pleaded guilty.

Ukraine has accused Russia of numerous war crimes during the three months since Vladimir Putin sent troops into the country, and claims to have identified over 10,000 possible cases. Footage captured by civilians and media crews appear to back claims that Russian troops have carried out atrocities against civilians.

Russia has repeatedly denied involvement in attacks on civilians, saying such claims are “western propaganda”.