Russian soldier sentenced for life in Ukraine’s first Russian war crimes case

Shishimarin Russian war crimes

Kateryna Petrenko/Novynarnia 

Russian War Crimes

In Ukraine’s first sentence over Russian war crimes, 21-year-old Russian sergeant Vadim Shishimarin was sentenced to life for the murder of a 62-year-old Ukrainian civilian.

In a ruling passed on 23 May, a Kyiv court decided Shishimarin acted with direct intent when firing 3-4 times at the civilian, Hromadske reported. One of the bullets hit the man in the head.

The Court rejected arguments that Shishimarin allegedly accidentally hit the civilian and that he fired to protect his life, concluding that the victim, 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov, posed no threat to the invader.  

Shishimarin’s repentance was not considered sincere. Prosecutors demanded life imprisonment for the Russians, while his defense asked to acquit Shishimarin because he followed orders.

These arguments were rejected because neither of the men in the car giving orders, militarymen with the surnames Kalinin and Kolpakov, were Shishimarin’s direct commanders.  These militarymen are no longer in Ukraine: Ukraine’s prosecutors informed that on 13 April, they were exchanged to Russia in a prisoner swap. 

The sergeant himself admitted in court that he read the statute of the Russian army only superficially, did not see any international legal acts in his eyes, and did not know whether he really had to obey the orders. 

Shishimarin pleaded guilty. The wife of the killed civilian stated that she expected a life sentence, but would agree that Shishimarin would be exchanged for the Ukrainian defenders of Mariupol, whose evacuation from the Azovstal steelworks commenced on 17 May after Ukraine surrendered the coastal city.

21-year-old sergeant Vadim Shishimarin is the commander of the 4th Kantemirov Division of the Moscow Oblast. He is accused of killing a civilian in Ukraine’s Sumy Oblast, 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov.

According to the investigation, on 28 February 2022, Shishimarin killed Shelipov in the village of Chupakhivka, Sumy Oblast. The deceased was riding a bicycle along the roadside. Ukrainian forces destroyed the Russian military column of which Shishimarin was part before the incident. While escaping, the Russian soldier and four other occupiers fired at a private car and seized it. The Russian military drove into the village in the stolen car with punctured wheels.

According to the investigation, on the way, they saw a man returning home and talking on the phone. One of the militaries in the car ordered the sergeant to kill a civilian so that he would not report them to Ukraine’s Armed Forces. Shishimarin fired several shots through the open window of the car from a Kalashnikov assault rifle into the head of the 62-year-old victim. The man died on the spot just a few dozen meters from his home.

Shishimarin was later taken prisoner. He was identified using a facial recognition system provided by Ukraine’s Western partners. Ukraine’s Prosecutor General’s Office notes that this is the first Russian serviceman to stand trial in Ukraine for killing a civilian after the Russian invasion.

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