Russian soldier sentenced to life in prison for Ukraine war crime | USA TODAY

In the first trial of a Russian soldier for war crimes in Ukraine, Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin was sentenced to life in prison for premeditated murder.

RELATED: Zelenskyy gives update on Donbas region, reveals more Russian attacks

Shishimarin, a captured Russian tank-unit sergeant, fatally shot Oleksandr Shelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, in the head in late February. Shishimarin had pleaded guilty, but his defense had argued he was carrying out a direct order that he initially disobeyed.

Last week Shishimarin had asked Shelipov's widow, Kateryna, for forgiveness. She said she wanted a life sentence to be handed down, but also that she would be willing to see Shishimarin returned to Russia in an exchange for Ukrainian fighters who surrendered to Russian forces at the Azovstal steel plant in Mariupol.

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    1. well at least the generals deserve the safety because they worked their way up for decades to be tactical figureheads. i would just keep the complaint aimed towards politicians.

    2. @Jski So you’re supposed to not do your job and face imprisonment or death? There’s no easy anwser and it’s impossible to say what you’d do because odds are you’ve never been in a situation like this. Also, remember almost every country’s soldeira have committed war crimes, it’s just the losers who occasionally pay the price.

    1. @JakeShuf, if this individual had refused, he and his entire family would have died years from now in Siberia, from far worse terrible conditions. Another soldier would have committed the action. Do we know another didn’t refuse? No! This is a lose-lose situation for all involved!

    2. @Jenn H agreed, and it’s NOT real justice. It’s just some kid that has to be the one to demonstrate that ‘someone’ is being held accountable. The ones giving the orders are the ones who deserve these sentences, not the kid they threatened to shoot if he didn’t shoot the civilian.

    3. @Mark Winston I don’t have a comfortable sofa, I own nothing comfortable that’s why I am miserable

  1. This is very sad.. all the politicians and their families are safe and enjoying their life while these poor soldiers get to suffer … Ukrainian or Russian doesn’t matter .. people are people

    1. @WolverineManiac it is relevant in order to show you examples how citizens of an authoritative regime may not have the freedom to just up and leave. Not all the world’s citizens have equal liberties in their countries

    2. @Badshrimp81 It has no relevance on Russian soldiers many of which surrendered without harming anyone and are now living new lives outside of Russia. Try again.

    3. @WolverineManiac you obviously are confused to what I am talking about, so the relevance of what I’m saying is lost on you, don’t worry I won’t continue trying to explain my point to you if you can’t comprehend. Though I’m sure others will be able to follow what I’m saying.

    4. @WolverineManiac only one arguing here is you and now you’re divulging to insults, it clearly shows you’re not interested in having a good faith discussion anymore. I have no interest continuing this discussion with you. You may move along.

  2. Not saying this kid doesn’t have any culpability – he does. But where is his superior officer that ordered him to pull the trigger? Why isn’t he being prosecuted?

    1. @d0ugh2k why would his lawyer try and present that as his defense with no evidence of it happening? I bet he was given an order, but our laws are different than theirs. In Russia they probably don’t care whether the order is legal or not, if you disobey you will be killed by firing squad in wartime. In the states, we can disobey an order that is a war crime without reprimand.

    2. well.. did they capture him lol. ultimately we are looking to put the big fish on trial duh

    1. @SomethingElse he isn’t a civilian Ukraine drafted all men in the country if you don’t recall.

    2. @Arkk rogue I recall them drafting all men of fighting age, but I don’t recall that including the elderly. I could have missed that, but it seems like a pretty wild assertion. Do you have a link to an article or video that backs that claim up?

    3. @SomethingElse this was back in February all men ages 18-60 if I come across the video I’ll send it.

  3. You’re screwed either way. Especially when military service is compulsory for young males in Russia and insubordination isn’t looked upon kindly unlike the US. Meanwhile the leaders at the top will walk Scott free.

    1. @Sonofspam64 I don’t think thats what he meant , he just doesn’t know how to organize sentences, he says things like (scott).

  4. OK — that’s one….but this should be happening to the command level soldiers….not the ground-pounders.

  5. It’s sad we sentence soldiers following orders for war crimes but never sentence the people in power who cause the wars in the first place

    1. We do if we can just like with WWII. Getting them into a court of law is the tricky part. If Russia loses and collapses you may well see some higher ups in court.

    2. @Bulletproofweasel If the old unarmed man he shot was a life threat to him that makes him way less guilty.

      What I meant is simple his superiors might be guilty, even more guilty than him, but he still has a great degree of guilt. At the bottom line he pull the trigger, and that is material, not philosophy.

      Maybe he did it by his own conviction then he is guilty, maybe he did it under orders then he and his superiors are guilty. Maybe he did it not by orders or personal conviction, but by honest accident then he is guilty in a leaser degree or he might just be a poor soldier that has nothing to do with the case just a scapegoat, in that case, he is innocent.

  6. This is what is sad. If the Russians do not want to fight, they will probably be put in prison or shot and if they do go and fight and get caught, they are sent to prison for life. A no win situation.

  7. If anyone believes they’re not quite susceptible to commit this act themselves, please read about the Milgram experiment. This soldier’s dilemma was orders of magnitude more serious. Individually we are him far more than it is comfortable to admit.

  8. It’s such a tragic and unfortunate situation. I do believe it’s also wrong to target the soldiers, in general, for prosecution while the people giving the orders are virtually untouchable… or, at the very least, are simply allowed to remain free & (in many instances) in power. In America, there are laws/statutes etc that are in place to protect you punishment if you were to commit a crime in distress when someone is going to kill you &/or your spouse, your kid(s), your parent(s) etc etc. In Russia, as well as many other countries, if you disobey a direct order you are basically signing your own death warrant. I don’t believe there are too many people out there that would act differently if in that position. If someone is holding a gun to your head (metaphorically) and you know that you either have to obey their command(s) or else you will be k*lled, chances are you will do what you must to survive. Now just imagine being trained (aka programmed) from a young age and forced in to that position. The MONSTERS in charge are the ones that NEED to be stopped… and then MUST be charged & brought to justice!

  9. Putin will never pay for this, just these poor, young soldiers who are sadly just following orders.

  10. When I was a kid growing up in 80s my dad’s friend from Vietnam told me a horrifying story that he was a machine gunner on a helicopter flew over villages wasting everyone and everything old people, young kids, and animals in the village. No one even ordered him to do it and he never faced war crimes even became a lawyer. He is dead now natural causes. World is so unfair.

  11. In war, it should be the person in charge of the soldier be held accountable for war crime orders. A soldier should be held accountable only for going rogue doing their own doing war crimes without the commander’s orders.

  12. I’m sure he got a fair trial. Could you imagine if US soldiers could be charged in an Iraqi court.

  13. Am in no way condoning the invasion but it is so sad to see though that this young man is being held responsible for doing what he was ordered to do just as his lawyer said. A shame that he is being used as a scapegoat for the actions of those too damn chicken to face the consequences themselves.

  14. I feel a life sentence isn’t right for this. He was ordered (so the premeditation wasn’t his), he initially disobeyed, and he recognizes the wrongfulness of his act. All those mitigating factors should have been considered and led to a less severe punishment. Because this definitely feels like someone who can eventually be rehabilitated and put back into society without posing a danger to the public. During the Nuremburg Trials, some Nazi defendants were given definite prison terms instead of a life sentence or death. Judges today should apply the same discretion with Russian war criminals.

  15. Very sad for the boy only 21. He is a soldier , everything is fair in love and war ☹️☹️☹️

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