Four questions about the trial of Vadim Chichymarin, the first Russian soldier tried in Kyiv for war crimes

And his young face appeared, Friday, in front of cameras around the world, during a preliminary hearing. Vadim Chichimarin, a 21-year-old Russian soldier with a shaved head and a gray-and-blue jogger, arrived in handcuffs at the small Solomiansky District Court in Ukraine. He is on trial from Wednesday, May 18, for a war crime. This is the first trial of its kind in Ukraine since Russian forces entered its territory. Franceinfo returns with four questions about the essential elements of this trial.

1Why is this trial taking place now?

Since the beginning of the conflict, on February 24, many NGOs and civilians as well as states have mobilized to collect evidence of Russian abuses, so that those responsible can be swiftly brought to justice. They are accused of multiple war crimes in the occupied territories of Ukraine, in particular on the outskirts of Kyiv, from which troops withdrew at the end of March.

While several investigations have already been opened by international courts, such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the United Nations Human Rights Council, Ukrainian national courts are also investigating. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky announced in early April that a “special mechanism” It will be created for Investigate all crimes of the occupiers in [le] country and prosecute them.. “Never in wartime have we done so many investigations at the same time.”analysis in France, Reed Brody, member of the International Commission of Jurists, and specialist in the defense of human rights.

as pointed out ParisThe crime that Vadim Chichimarin is accused of committing is the first among List of 11846 others identified by kyiv. According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office, it was committed on February 28, four days after the fighting began.

Evidence of Ukraine’s determination not to waste time at the judicial level: Two Russian soldiers should be prosecuted from Thursday for firing missiles at civilian infrastructure in the country’s second largest city, Kharkiv region, in the north.

2What does Vadim Chichimarin accuse?

Despite his young age, Vadim Chichymarin, originally from Irkutsk in Siberia, was a unit commander in a tank division based in the Moscow region. He is accused of shooting an unarmed 62-year-old civilian with a Kalashnikov from the window of a car he was traveling in on February 28. According to the Ukrainian Prosecutor’s Office, the soldier was traveling with four other soldiers after the attack on their convoy. They had stolen a car near the village of Chubakivka, in the Sumy region, in the north-east of the country.

The victim – who has not been identified – was riding a bicycle on the side of the road not far from his home and died on the spot. “He ordered one of the soldiers accused of killing the civilian so that he would not report them.”said the Prosecutor’s Office, Irina Venediktova.

The Ukrainian authorities had announced the arrest of Vadim Chichymarin at the beginning of May without giving details, while he posted a video clip in which he said he had come to fight in Ukraine. Support his mother financially. Regarding the charges against him, he explained: “I was ordered to shoot him once. He fell and we continued on our way.”

3What punishment does he bear?

The soldier may have acted, according to his words, on the orders of his superior, and faces life imprisonment for war crimes and premeditated murder. “understands the charges against him.”His lawyer, Viktor Ovsyankov, told AFP, without revealing his defensive strategy. According to the Ukrainian authorities, he is cooperating with investigators and acknowledging the facts.

For his part, the Prosecutor General, Yaroslav Ochchabivsky, told the Ukrainian media Ukrainska Pravda The Russian soldier admitted guilt and remorse.

Why is this experience worth testing in Ukraine?

This trial, which must soon be followed by several more, is a test of the Ukrainian judicial system. The file is difficult, admits Vadim Chichimarin’s lawyer. “We have never been charged with such a charge before in Ukraine, we have no precedents, no judgment”pointed out. “But we’ll get there.”added Viktor Ovsyankov, emphasizing that he had not noticed “No rights infringement” of those accused by the authorities.

How can we avoid making this trial a propaganda tool and maintain the integrity of justice? “Ukraine wants to oppose the law, the law on weapons (…) If Ukraine wants to use the weapon of law, it should really be used to perfection”And the analysis on the franceinfo website, the specialist Reed Brody.

“This trial should be conducted in a fair, exemplary and transparent manner. It is one of the most important, as it will give an idea of ​​how Ukrainian justice is working at the moment.”

Reed Brody, member of the International Commission of Jurists

on franceinfo

Red Body was surprised, however, that Kyiv chose it “The Little Soldier Case” To conduct this first trial. “Acknowledge the facts. But the facts are that he received orders. This is not an obvious case. What was his duty? continued.

The Attorney General also noted, In a series of posts on Twitterthe case is at stake for his country. “We have opened more than 11,000 war crimes investigations and arrested 40 suspects.”, remembered Irina Venediktova. While waiting for their arrival at court, “With this first trial, we are sending a clear signal: No executioner or person who ordered or assisted in the commission of crimes in Ukraine will escape justice.”

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