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Russian soldier enters guilty plea in Ukrainian war crime trial

Russian soldier enters guilty plea in Ukrainian war crime trial
Russian serviceman Vadim Shishimarin attends a court hearing in the Solomyansky district court in Kyiv, Ukraine, on Wednesday where he entered a guilty plea in Ukraine's first war crimes trial. Photo by Oleg Petrasyuk/EPA-EFE

May 18 (UPI) -- A 21-year-old Russian soldier faces life in prison after he entered a guilty plea to killing an unarmed civilian during Russia's invasion of the country in the first war crimes trial since the war started.

In a Kyiv courtroom, Vadim Shishimarin entered the plea in the shooting death of a 62-year-old man a few days after the Russian invasion started. Shishimarin was accused of stealing a vehicle with four other soldiers as they traveled near Chupakhivka in Ukraine's Sumy region.

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On the trip, they encountered the 62-year-old on a bicycle. Shishimarin was ordered to kill the civilian and used a Kalashnikov assault rifle, Ukrainian prosecutors said. They opened the trial against the soldier on Friday.

"By this first trial, we are sending a clear signal that every perpetrator, every person who ordered or assisted in the commission of crimes in Ukraine shall not avoid responsibility," Ukraine's chief prosecutor Iryna Venediktova said, according to the BBC News.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the charges against Shishimarin "outrageous" and said Moscow has no information on the case's details.

"We still have no information about this case," Peskov said Wednesday, according to CNN. "The ability to provide assistance is also very limited due to the absence of our diplomatic mission [in Ukraine]. But once again I repeat, I do not have any information on this case."

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Peskov accused Ukraine of creating "staged" incidents in connection with their claims of war crimes by Russian soldiers.

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