“Is it true that Zelensky handed out weapons to everyone?” History of the first sentence for a war crime

On May 23, three months after the start of a full-scale war, a court in Kyiv handed down the first conviction for a war crime. 21-year-old Russian tanker Vadim Shishimarin is on the dock. He was sentenced to life imprisonment.

Hundreds of Ukrainian and foreign media followed this story. This case is symbolic because the first.

Since February 24, Russian war crimes have been investigated by almost the entire Ukrainian law enforcement system, from the police to the Anti-Corruption Bureau. But the story of the first sentence did not begin in high-ranking Kyiv offices. Its main characters are peasants in the Sumy region.

In this story – almost the entire Ukrainian war for independence. Where are the brave Ukrainians, whom the war, however, did not depopulate. And the confusion and futility of the Russian invasion.

Ukrayinska Pravda visited the villages where Shishimarin committed the crime and where he and his comrades were caught by local residents. We tell this story from the beginning.
Russians in the village

Illustrations by Nikita Shklyaruk

On February 22, 2022, the Russian military Vadim Shishimarin handed over his phone to the command. And warned his family that the week will be out of touch.

“If someone tells you that I went to Ukraine, don’t believe it,” he warned his mother.

Vadim grew up in the small town of Ust-Ilimsk in the Irkutsk region, 5,000 kilometers from Ukraine. After school I went to vocational school, and there and to short term service for a short time. He later signed a contract.

Vadim Shishimarin in Moscow
Photo from his VKontakte page

He chose military service because he could make money there. Probably better than the tire fitters, where he worked while studying. In addition, it was possible to stay in Moscow.

At the beginning of the war, 21-year-old Shishimarin was a division commander in a tank division.

Russia did not select soldiers very carefully. Vadim was accompanied, for example, by his peer Ivan Maltisov, who even exchanged his military service for an alternative service, never saw a weapon, held the position of a mechanic-driver and was a “clerk”, ie engaged in paperwork.

On the morning of February 26, a large convoy of Russian equipment was parked at the entrance to the village of Chupakhivka in the Sumy Region. From the village to the border with Russia – about 65 kilometers. You can reach Kyiv by car in 5-6 hours.

“Why did you guys come here?” – the owners of a small shop, which was visited and robbed, dared to talk to the occupiers.

“This is a 3-day special operation. We will go back for 3 days,” the Russians replied.

The window of a shop that was robbed by the Russians

Everything in a row was taken out of the robbed shop: water, sweets, socks and soap. The “senior”, who was approached by outraged owners, even promised to compensate them for the losses.

The invaders passed quickly through the village, did not stop and did not shoot. The locals only hid in the houses, unarmed and unaware that they could act against the armored columns.

Kateryna Shelipova also hid in the loess. She and her husband lived in a house near the edge of the village. Both are retired. They lived alone, their only son was in Kremenchug.

Curiosity did not give Alexander Shelipov peace. He sat on the ladder at home and counted the equipment – out of curiosity. The pensioner counted almost a few hundred tanks and other vehicles.

Alexander Shelipov
Photo provided by UE by his wife

This was almost the whole war that was seen in Chupakhivka and nearby villages. Several enemy bombs later fell on the outskirts, and on the way someone blew up one of the dead tanks, turning it into a local landmark.

The Russians went further, in the direction of Kiev. On February 26, Shishimarin’s regiment stopped somewhere in the woods. The occupiers set traps in their camp. They were hit by their own at night, and the Russians shot each other. The next day they set out to take the wounded to Russia.

Thus, the occupiers reappeared in Chupakhivka.


On February 28, a small convoy carrying Shishimarin passed through the village. And on the way she came under fire from the Armed Forces. The Russian equipment was smashed, so they hurried, broke into groups and began to retreat towards Chupakhivka.

Suddenly, a 21-year-old tanker heard gunshots. Shishimarin looked around and saw his comrades firing on a civilian car coming from a nearby village.

“Go check the car,” Vadim was ordered.

In a gray Volkswagen, the Russians punctured a wheel and smashed several windows. However, the car was still moving, and the driver managed to jump out and hide before the enemies approached.

Five servicemen got into the car. Shishimarin knew all but one. At low speed and accompanied by a loud bang, which was emitted by a punctured wheel, the car moved back to Chupakhivka.

The occupiers wanted to get to their own.

That same morning, 62-year-old Shelipov picked up his bicycle and went to look at a blown up tank outside the village.

“Why are you going there? Don’t go,” his wife refused.

“Everyone is leaving, and I will leave,” Oleksandr Fedorovich objected.

The rusty car is still there. The tower demolished by the explosion lay in the ditch for some time, and then disappeared. “I went for scrap metal,” the locals smile.

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