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Russian sentenced to life in first war crimes trial in Ukraine | News

Kyiv, Ukraine – A Russian prisoner of war who pleaded guilty to killing a civilian has been sentenced by a Ukrainian court on Monday to life in prison – the maximum – amid signs that the Kremlin could, in turn, prosecute some surrendered fighters. in Mariupol metallurgical plant.

Meanwhile, in a rare public statement by the opposition against the war from the ranks of the Russian elite, a veteran of the Kremlin diplomat resigned and sent a scathing letter to foreign colleagues in which he said of the invasion: “I have never been so ashamed of my country as February 24.”

Also, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky called for “maximum” sanctions against Russia in a video address to world leaders and executives at the World Economic Forum in Davos (Switzerland). He also revealed one of the deadliest single strikes of the war – a rocket attack on a village near Kiev, which killed nearly 90 people.

And on the battlefield unfolded heavy fighting in the Donbass in the east, where Moscow forces intensified the bombing. Cities not controlled by Russia have come under constant fire, and one Ukrainian official said Russian forces targeted civilians trying to flee.

In the first of that there may be many trials of war crimes in Ukraine, a Russian sergeant. 21-year-old Vadim Shishimarin was convicted of killing a 62-year-old man who was shot in the head in a village in the northeast of Sumy region in the opening. days of war.

Shishimarin, a member of the tank unit, claimed to have obeyed orders and apologized in court to the man’s widow.

His lawyer, appointed by Ukraine, Viktor Ovsyanikov, claimed that his client was not ready for the “violent military confrontation” and the massive losses suffered by Russian troops during the invasion. He said he would appeal.

Ukrainian civil liberties defender Volodymyr Yavorsky said it was “an extremely harsh sentence for one murder during the war.” But Arif Abraham, a British human rights lawyer, said the trial was “with full and fair due process”, including access to a lawyer.

Before sentencing Shishimarin, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Moscow had failed to defend the soldier, but would consider trying to do so “through other channels.”

Mary Ellen O’Connell, an international law expert at the University of Notre Dame, said the trial of Shishimarin could be “extremely detrimental to Ukrainian soldiers in Russia’s hands”. She said Russia could decide to hold “demonstration trials” of Ukrainians to raise the morale of its soldiers and spread misinformation.

“Perhaps this would have happened if the Ukrainians had not started the trials,” O’Connell said. “But time has shown that the Ukrainians should have restrained themselves, and perhaps still should, so that the Russians could not say, ‘We are just doing to their soldiers what they did to ours.’

Russian authorities have threatened to prosecute captured Ukrainians, including fighters held at the destroyed Mariupol steel plant, the last stronghold of the resistance in the strategic southern port city. They surrendered and were taken prisoner last week, at which point Moscow said the capture of Mariupol was complete.

Russia’s main investigative body has said it intends to interrogate Mariupol defenders to “establish nationalists” and determine their involvement in crimes against civilians.

Russian authorities have seized on the far-right origins of one of the regiments there, calling the Azov regiment’s fighters “Nazis” and accusing their commander of “numerous atrocities” without evidence. Russia’s chief prosecutor has asked the country’s Supreme Court to recognize the Azov Regiment as a terrorist organization.

Family members of the fighters asked for their final return to Ukraine as part of an exchange of prisoners.

Elsewhere, Boris Bondarev, a veteran Russian diplomat at the UN office in Geneva, has resigned and sent a letter condemning “aggressive war unleashed” by Russian President Vladimir Putin. Cooper told the Associated Press: “It’s unbearable what my government is doing now.”

In his letter, Bondarev said that those who planned the war “want only one thing – to stay in power forever, live in pompous tasteless palaces, sail on yachts comparable in tonnage and cost to the entire Russian Navy, enjoying unlimited power and complete impunity.” ”

He also said that the Russian Foreign Ministry was engaged in “inciting war, lies and hatred.”

At a forum in Davos, Zelensky said sanctions against the Kremlin should go further. He called for an embargo on Russian oil, a complete cessation of trade and the withdrawal of foreign companies from the country.

“This is what sanctions should be: they should be maximum, so that Russia and every other potential aggressor who wants to wage a brutal war against its neighbor, know exactly the immediate consequences of their actions,” said Zelensky, who received a standing ovation. .

In other events, nearly 50 defense leaders from around the world met on Monday and agreed to send more modern weapons to Ukraine, including missiles to protect its coast, U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters in Washington.

On the battlefield, Russian troops have stepped up bombing of the Donbass, the eastern industrial center of coal mines and factories Russia seeks to seize.

The governor of the Donetsk region Pavlo Kirilenko said that three civilians were killed in Russian attacks on Monday, and heavy fighting continues in the Luhansk region. Donbass consists of Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

He said the Russians were destroying cities in an attempt to capture them. He said of the region’s pre-war population of 1.6 million, only about 320,000 remained, and Russian forces are targeting evacuations.

“They are killing us. They are killing locals during the evacuation, ”Kirilenko said.

On the eve of the three-month anniversary of the start of the war, Zelensky said four rockets were killed last week in the town of Desna, 34 miles north of Kiev. He said the dead were counted after the debris was cleared.

Now the Russians are concentrating their forces in the cities of Donbass and “trying to destroy all living things,” Zelensky said in his evening address to the people.

In the Luhansk region, according to UN spokesman Stefan Dujarric, local authorities said that the bridge leading to the administrative center of Severodonetsk was destroyed, leaving the partially surrounded city only one road.

Some who fled the Donetsk region shared their suffering.

“We haven’t seen the sun in three months. We are almost blind, because we were in the dark for three months, ”said Raisa Rybalka, who hid with her family first in the basement and then in a bomb shelter at the school before fleeing the village of Novomykhailauka. “The world should have seen it.”

Her son-in-law Dmitry Khalyapin said that heavy artillery was hit in the village. “Houses are being destroyed,” he said. “It’s horror.”

This was reported by Bekataros from Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Associated Press journalists Yuras Karmanov from Lviv, Andrea Rosa in Kharkiv, Danika Kirka in London and other AP staff around the world.

Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or distributed without permission.

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