Volodymyr Yavorskyy, coordinator at the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, said activists will monitor the Russian soldier’s trial to ensure his legal rights are protected. It can be difficult, he said, to maintain the neutrality of court proceedings during wartime. “It is surprising that a suspect in war crimes has been found and the trial for him will take place. Charges of this kind are usually made in absentia,” he said. “This is a rare case when in a short time we managed to find a soldier who violated international rules of warfare.”

A 21-year-old Russian soldier went on trial Friday in Kyiv for the killing of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian, marking the first war crime prosecution of a member of the Russian military from 11 weeks of bloodshed in Ukraine.

The soldier, a captured member of a tank unit is accused of shooting a 62-year-old Ukrainian man in the head through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka during the first days of the war.

Scores of journalists and cameras packed inside a small courtroom at the Solomyanskyy district court in Ukraine’s capital, where the suspect, Sgt. Vadim Shyshimarin, sat in a glassed-off area wearing a blue and grey hoodie, sweatpants and a shaved head.

He faces up to life in prison under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war. Ukraine’s top prosecutor, with help from foreign experts, is investigating allegations that Russian troops violated Ukrainian and international law by killing, torturing and abusing possibly thousands of Ukrainian civilians.Read more

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