The first war crimes trial since the Moscow invasion of Ukraine, against a Russian soldier accused of killing an unarmed civilian, is under way in Kiev on Wednesday.
The trial, expected to be followed by several others, will examine Ukraine’s judicial system at a time when international organizations are also conducting their own investigations into allegations of abuse by Russian forces.
Vadim Shishimarin will appear in Kiev’s Solomyansky District Court from 2:00 pm (1100 GMT) on February 21, 28 for the death of a 62-year-old man in northeastern Ukraine.
A Siberian Irkutsk soldier has been sentenced to life in prison for war crimes and premeditated murder.
His lawyer, Viktor Ovsyannikov, told AFP that he understood what was being said.
Ukrainian authorities say he is cooperating with investigators and acknowledging the veracity of what happened just four days after the Russian invasion began.
Prosecutors say Shishimarin was commanding a tank division unit when his convoy was attacked.
He and four other soldiers stole a car, and as they were approaching the village of Supakhivka in the Sumi region, they came across a 62-year-old man on a bicycle.
“A soldier ordered the accused to kill the civilian so that he would not condemn them,” the prosecutor’s office said.
Shishimarin then fired from a car window with a Kalashnikov assault rifle and “the man died instantly a few dozen meters from his home”, they added in a statement.
In early May, Ukrainian authorities announced his arrest without elaborating, releasing a video where Shishimarin said he had come to fight in Ukraine “to support his mother financially”.
He explained his actions: “I was ordered to shoot, I shot him once. He fell and we continued our journey.”
According to his lawyer, the case is proving to be challenging.
“This is the first case with such an allegation in Ukraine. There is no relevant legal practice or judgment in such a case. We will sort it out,” he said.
Ovsyannikov said he did not see any violation of authority.
Ukraine’s chief prosecutor Irina Venediktova highlighted the importance of the case for her country in multiple tweets.
“We have more than 11,000 ongoing war crimes cases and already have 40 suspects,” he said.
“Through this first trial, we are sending a clear signal that every criminal, every person who directed or assisted crime in Ukraine will not escape responsibility.”
The trial of two Russian military members will begin on Thursday for firing rockets at civilian infrastructure in the northeastern Kharkiv region.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)