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Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin accused of war crimes pleads guilty to killing unarmed Ukrainian civilian

Ukraine collects evidence for war crimes cases
Ukraine collects evidence for war crimes cases 02:13

The first Russian soldier to face trial for war crimes in Ukraine pleaded guilty on Wednesday to shooting and killing an unarmed 62-year-old civilian. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, who was part of a Russian tank unit captured by Ukrainian forces in early March, just days after the war began, faces a possible sentence of life in prison.

Shishimarin appeared Wednesday at a district court in Kyiv. At a preliminary hearing last week, prosecutors said Shishimarin had been driving in a private vehicle with other soldiers, which they had stolen in an attempt to escape after their column came under attack by Ukrainian forces a few days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 28.

Russia Ukraine War
Russian army Sergeant Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, May 18, 2022. Efrem Lukatsky/AP

They drove to the village of Chupakhivka, where they came upon the victim, a 62-year-old man riding a bicycle and talking on his phone.

Prosecutors said Shishimarin was ordered to shoot the civilian to stop him from telling Ukrainian defenders about the Russians' location. They said Shishimarin fired several shots out of his open car window at the victim's head, killing him instantly.

Ukrainian officials say the shooting was captured on video by the country's State Security Service, but that video has not been seen by CBS News.

Captured Russian soldier now faces courtroom for war crimes 03:31

"I was ordered to shoot," Shishimarin said in a confession video shown last week by prosecutors, which appeared to have been edited by Ukrainian authorities. "I shot one (round) at him. He falls. And we kept on going."

Ukraine's National Security Service called Shishimarin's video statement "one of the first confessions of the enemy invaders."

Ukraine, along with the U.S. and others in the international community, has accused Russia of committing atrocities against civilians during its war on Ukraine, and says it has identified over 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia has denied targeting civilians and accused Ukraine of staging atrocities.

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