Ukraine’s top prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, revealed she has brought the first war crimes charges against a captured Russian soldier. Sgt. Vadin Shyshimarin, 21, is charged with the killing of a 62-year-old civilian in the Northeastern village of Chupakhivka.
The killing of the 62-year-old as he rode his bike through the village is one of 10,700 alleged war crimes under investigation.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova announced the charges and released a statement giving limited details of the crime. The statement says that Sgt. Shyshimarin, part of a Russian tank unit, stole a car with four other soldiers after their convoy was attacked.
According to the statement, the 62-year-old civilian, who was not named, was riding his bike not far from his home when “one of the military servicemen ordered [Sgt. Shyshimarin] to kill a civilian so that he would not report them,” according to the statement.
Shyshimarin allegedly fired an automatic rifle from a car window, striking the civilian.
“The man died on the spot just a few dozen metres from his home,” read the statement.
The trial will mark the first prosecution of a Russian prisoner of war since the beginning of the Ukrainian conflict. Prosecutor General Venediktova did not reveal when the trial is expected to start.
The retreat of Russian forces from around the Ukrainian capital Kyiv has allowed prosecutors to investigate alleged war crimes.
The charge brought against Sgt. Shyshimarin is just one of the hundreds the Ukrainian government expects to bring against Russian soldiers. Venediktova’s office says it has identified 600 suspects of war crimes.
Venediktova added that the soldier could face up to life in prison.
Volodymyr Yavorskyy of the Ukrainian human rights group, Center for Civil Liberties, said his group would closely monitor Shyshimarin’s trial to make sure it is fair.
“It’s very difficult to observe all the rules, norms, and neutrality of the court proceedings in wartime,” said Yavorskyy.
The Ukrainian and United States governments have repeatedly accused Russian troops of committing war crimes since the invasion began on February 24.
Some of the nearly six million Ukrainians who have fled the country have shared stories of torture, sexual violence, and indiscriminate killing.
The UK and the Netherlands have sent war crimes detectives to Ukraine to assist local and International Criminal Court teams investigating possible mass graves — including in the Kyiv suburb of Bucha, where at least 20 bodies were discovered on April 2.
The United Nations Human Rights Council held a special session on Thursday. They voted to expand an investigation into alleged human rights abuses by Russian troops in Ukraine.