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HomeWorld NewsRussian soldier asks widow for forgiveness at war crimes trial

Russian soldier asks widow for forgiveness at war crimes trial

Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass barrier during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 13. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

Russian Sgt. Vadim Shishimarin, 21, is seen behind a glass barrier during a court hearing in Kyiv, Ukraine, on May 13. (Efrem Lukatsky/AP)

In a world where diplomacy is demolished, Russia ends up on top. However, the talks of a War Crimes Trial turned into action when a Russian soldier was forced to face the wife of 62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov, who he killed while Russia ravaged the rest of Ukraine and its people.

The Russian soldier is a 21-year-old Russian Sergeant named Vadim Shishimarin. He shot his unarmed victim through an open car window on February 28, four days following Russia’s initial invasion. This Russian trooper was working with four other Russians to do as much damage to Ukraine as possible. The soldier has pleaded guilty to murder. 

Ukrainian prosecutors claimed that the soldier and four other Russian servicemen fired shots intending to steal the privately-owned car to escape after Ukrainian forces targeted their convoy. A fellow soldier allegedly ordered Shishimarin to kill the civilian to prevent him from reporting on Russia’s presence. After firing several shots, the man died a few yards away from his house.

Forced to face his victim’s wife, Kateryna Shelipova stood up in court and asked the 21-year-old what he felt when he killed her husband, Oleksandr. She soon followed up her question with another, “did you repent your crime?” The soldier replied that he admitted his guilt and asked for her forgiveness. “But I understand you won’t be able to forgive me,” he added.

Kateryna Shelipova kept at her fierce questioning, saying, ‘Tell me please, why did you (The Russians) come here? To protect us?’ she asked, citing Vladimir Putin’s justification for the invasion of Ukraine. ‘Protect us from whom? Did you protect me from my husband, whom you killed?” The soldier had no response to those questions. Which can either indicate shock or indicate how well Russia has been keeping its true mission under wraps.

Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and violence against people during the invasion, suspecting that over 10,000 war crimes have been found. Shishimarin was prosecuted under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war. It is unclear how many of the suspects have been detained in Ukraine or would be tried in absentia.

Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova previously said her office was preparing cases against 41 Russian soldiers for offenses including killing civilians, rape, bombing civilian infrastructure, and looting. Moscow has consistently denied partaking in War Crimes and continuously accuses Kyiv of fabricating the stories to discredit its military.

Many followers of this War Crimes case believe that Russia abandoned its former Russian tank commander due to the lack of Russian involvement. While the trial was ongoing, Shishimarin’s Ukrainian-appointed lawyer asked the court to call two more witnesses, the other soldiers who were in the car when Shishimarin killed his victim, Oleksandr Shelipov, through the open back window. At that time, Shishimarin learned that one of his key witnesses was part of a secret prisoner swap. For unknown reasons, Shishimarin’s other witness, Ivan Maltysev, was not included in the exchange but stayed in Ukraine to give evidence against his fellow soldier. However, Russia could have done this in an effort to change the narrative being told by Shishimarin. Ivan justified their actions by telling the court how Russian forces had been forced to retreat on foot with their wounded after their convoy of tanks came under attack.

The impact that War Crimes trials have on its defendants is what makes people continue to have faith in the world and the overall goodness of the world. Men drunk on power can carry a gun and intimidate anyone while having the ability to do anything. These trials force a soldier to stop and become a human again by acknowledging the terrors spread throughout Ukraine, feeling the pain of families, and emphasizing the country’s absence that doesn’t seem to be half as loyal to its people as its people are dedicated to it.

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