A court in Kyiv will hear the first war crime trial since Vladimir Putin ordered the invasion of Ukraine when a Russian soldier accused of murdering a 62-year-old civilian appears in the dock on Friday.
The watershed moment comes as the number of crimes registered by Ukraine’s general prosecutor surpassed 11,000 and Unicef reported that at least 100 children had been killed in the war in April alone.
The defendant who will appear at Kyiv’s district court is Vadim Shysimarin, a 21-year-old commander of the Kantemirovskaya tank division, who is currently in Ukrainian custody.
It is alleged Shysimarin, a sergeant, had been fighting in the Sumy region in north-east Ukraine when he killed a civilian on 28 February in the village of Chupakhivka.
He is accused of shooting at a civilian car after his convoy of military vehicles had come under attack from Ukrainian forces. He then drove the car away with four other soldiers as he sought to flee Ukrainian fighters.
Shysimarin shot dead the unarmed man, who was on a bicycle and talking on his phone, after being ordered “to kill a civilian so he would not report them to Ukrainian defenders”, according to prosecutors.
The crime is said to have happened “dozens of metres” from the victim’s house and was committed using an AK-74 rifle.
The case was this week filed at a criminal court. “He is here [in Ukraine], we have him,” said Ukraine’s prosecutor general, Iryna Venediktova, from her heavily fortified headquarters in Kyiv on Tuesday.
A spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office said: “Prosecutors and investigators of the SBU [Ukrainian secret services] have collected enough evidence of his involvement in violation of the laws and customs of war combined with premeditated murder. For these actions, he faces 10 to 15 years in prison or life in prison.”
Two other cases are likely to be heard in court within days including an in absentia trial of Mikhail Romanov, a Russian soldier accused of rape and murder. He is accused of breaking into a house in March in a village in the Brovarsky region near Kyiv, murdering a man and then repeatedly raping his wife while “threatening her and her underage child with violence and weapons”.