Ukraine cuts first Russian sentenced to 15 years in prison

The life sentence of a Russian soldier convicted in May of killing a civilian in Ukraine has been reduced to 15 years in prison on appeal, a Kiev court announced on Friday.

“The defense’s appeal has been partially satisfied. The court’s decision … has been modified,” the Kiev Court of Appeal said in a statement, specifying that the new sentence was “15 years in prison.”

Sergeant Vadim Chichimarine, 21, admitted to shooting dead Oleksandre Chelipov, a 62-year-old civilian, in the northeast of the country during the early days of the Russian army’s invasion of Ukraine that began on February 24.

Upon pleading guilty, he was convicted on May 23 of war crimes and premeditated murder.

Chichimarine testified in court that she acted under pressure from another soldier as she tried to flee to Russia in a stolen car with four other soldiers.

The soldier, originally from Irkutsk, Siberia, “asked for forgiveness” from Chelipov’s widow during a brief conversation with her at the Kiev court in May.

Russian forces are accused of war crimes and abuses by the Ukrainian authorities, in particular during the occupation of the outskirts of the capital, from which they withdrew at the end of March. They are also accused by Kiev of arbitrary arrests and torture in the territories they occupy in southern Ukraine.

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