Ukraine Launches First War Crimes Trial for Russian Soldier

A 21-year-old Russian soldier accused of shooting a civilian on a bicycle and leaving him dead on the side of the road will be the first Russian service member to stand trial in Ukraine for war crimes since the invasion, Ukraine’s prosecutor general said on Wednesday.

The soldier is in Ukrainian custody and was identified by the prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, as Sgt. Vadim Shysimarin. According to Ms. Venediktova, this is what Ukraine’s intelligence agency, the S.B.U., found in its investigation:

On Feb. 28, four days into Russia’s invasion, Sergeant Shysimarin and four other servicemen stole a car at gunpoint while fleeing Ukrainian forces and drove into the village of Chupakhivka in the Sumy region, about 200 miles east of Kyiv. There they saw an unarmed 62-year-old resident biking on the roadside and talking on the phone.

Sergeant Shysimarin was ordered to kill the man so he would not report them. He fired a Kalashnikov rifle out of the car window at the man’s head and killed him on the spot, just a few dozen yards from his home.

Sergeant Shysimarin faces 10 to 15 years in prison. It was not immediately clear how he came to be in custody or when the landmark trial may begin.

Both Ukrainian and international investigators have undertaken vast efforts to document evidence of potential war crimes in areas where Russian forces have retreated. Hundreds of bodies have been recovered for forensic examination, and U.N. officials are rushing more resources to the Ukrainian authorities to help prosecute growing reports of rape by Russian soldiers.

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