Ukraine: Russian soldier tried for war crime sentenced to life imprisonment

The first Russian soldier to be tried for a war crime since Russia invaded Ukraine, Vadim Chichimarine, was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison on Monday in kyiv for the murder of a civilian. His lawyer immediately announced that he would appeal. “The court has decided to find Chichimarin guilty and sentence him to life imprisonment,” said judge Serguiï Agafonov, noted an AFP journalist present in the courtroom.

Russian soldier ‘violated the laws and customs of war’, judge says

Sergeant Chichimarine, 21, admitted to shooting dead Oleksandre Chelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, in the northeast of the country during the first days of the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine. He is found guilty of war crimes and premeditated murder. The soldier with a youthful face and a shaved head, dressed in a gray and blue hooded sweatshirt, listened, alone in a glass box, to the verdict read in Ukrainian while an interpreter translated it into Russian.

“The murder was committed with direct intent,” the judge said. “Chichimarine violated the laws and customs of war,” he continued. The prosecution had requested Thursday the maximum sentence, life imprisonment. The soldier had pleaded guilty the day before to shooting dead a Ukrainian civilian. He said in court that he acted under pressure from another soldier as he tried to flee to Russia in a stolen car with four other soldiers.

The Kremlin “worried” for the young man

This soldier, originally from Irkutsk in Siberia, had “ask forgiveness” from the widow of Oleksandre Chelipov during a brief exchange with her in a court room in kyiv.

“This is the harshest sentence and any sane person would appeal,” said the young man’s lawyer, Viktor Ovsiannikov. “I will ask for the verdict to be overturned,” he said. Before the hearing, the Kremlin had declared itself “worried” for the fate of the Russian citizen, adding that it could not provide him with assistance on the spot due to the absence of diplomatic representation. “That doesn’t mean we won’t try through other channels. The fate of every Russian citizen is of paramount importance to us,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.

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