Ukraine dispatch: Russian soldier accused of war crimes pleads guilty in Kyiv court
Provided to JURIST
Ukraine dispatch: Russian soldier accused of war crimes pleads guilty in Kyiv court

Law students and young lawyers in Ukraine are filing for JURIST on developments and issues arising as the country defends itself against Russian invasion. This report is from JURIST Ukraine Chief Correspondent Anna Tymoshenko, a law student at Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

The trial of the first Russian military serviceman accused of murdering a Ukrainian civilian resumed today in Kyiv. A 21 year old man is charged with violating the laws and customs of war, combined with premeditated murder (Article 438(2) of Ukraine’s Criminal Code), for which he faces 10 to 15 years in prison or life in prison.

According to “Graty”, a Ukrainian news service providing up-to-date information on the ongoing trial, the accused fully admitted his guilt today. Upcoming procedures will include questioning the victim (in this case the murdered man’s wife), the accused, two witnesses, and the introduction of material evidence, including the phone on which the victim spoke and five Russian military submachine guns. The trial was adjourned after the prosecutor and defense counsel delivered their opening statements because the courtroom was too crowded with journalists. For the same reason, the court only allowed representatives of mostly foreign publications into the courtroom for today’s hearing, and a broadcast was set up in the next hall for the rest of the journalists.

This trial is a critical step in establishing a precedent for the operation of the Ukrainian justice in the context of war. It will test Ukraine’s ability to hold war criminals accountable, and we will see whether the Ukrainian trial can be fair and just and whether the judges can be objective and level-headed.