Widow of first Ukraine war crimes trial victim 'betrayed' by Russians who brought 'too much grief'

ITV News Correspondent Dan Rivers and Foreign Editor Jonathan Wald report on the first war crime trial being carried out in Ukraine

The widow of an unarmed Ukrainian civilian whose death is at the centre of the first Ukraine war crimes trial says she cannot forgive Russian forces as they have inflicted "too much grief" on civilians.

Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old Russian sergeant, is accused of killing Oleksandr Shelypov, who is alleged to have been shot in the head through an open car window in the north-eastern village of Chupakhivka.

Mr Shelypov's wife Kateryna Shelypova told ITV News that her husband, who served with the KGB during the Soviet era, was killed just outside their home, close to where Russian troops were allegedly trying to enter a neighbour's property.

Oleksandr Shelypov seen lying down at a reunion of KGB agents taken 10 years ago. Credit: ITV News

Now, with the glare of the world's press shone on the court in Kyiv where Shishimarin is being tried, Mrs Shelypova tells of feeling betrayed over the way her beloved husband, 62, died in the first days of the invasion.

"They have brought too much grief to us, " she told ITV News, referring to Russian soldiers, whose actions, she says, are unforgivable.

"Too many children have died. There has been too much brutality."

Describing the alleged incident, she explained: "He took out his phone and they thought he was going to report them for driving a civilian car, they stole a small civilian car, and they were driving it".

"What can I say? Him being a child, he is young I feel sorry for him. We didn’t ask them (the Russians) to come here."

Oleksandr Shelypov and wife Kateryna on their wedding day. Credit: ITV News

She went on to show our correspondent Dan Rivers photos of her late husband when he served with the KGB, Russia's former secret intelligence service, which Vladimir Putin worked for in the 1980s.

Mr Shelypov's wife said he was proud to serve Moscow's elite and amongst his duties guarded Leonid Brezhnev when the former Soviet leader visited his summerhouse or dacha in Crimea.

Russia denies its soldiers kill civilians and has so far made no comment on this trial, which is taking place not in the International Criminal Court, but in Ukraine, adding to its huge symbolic significance as the first during the invasion.

Shishimarin, who according to Russian media served with the Russian 4th tank division, faces up to life in prison under a section of the Ukrainian criminal code relating to the laws and customs of war.

"(The) wheels of justice (have) started turning and this process will yield results," Ukraine's Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova said on Friday.

Prosecutor Andrii Syniuk added that today's case was extremely important as everybody has to understand that those who commit criminal acts during an "illegal" war will still be held responsible for them.

While prosecutor Yaroslav Uschapyvsky told ITV News that Shishimarin may receive a lesser sentence because he says the soldier has admitted to killing Mr Shelypov and has cooperated with the investigation into Mr Shelypov's death.

This included returning with Ukrainian authorities to the scene of the crime to carry out a reconstruction of what happened.

Separately, investigators continue to collect evidence of other possible war crimes to bring before the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

Kyiv's government says it has identified around 11,000 possible war crimes over the invasion, which continues to rage into its 11th week.

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Numerous atrocities have already been alleged to have been committed by Russia, including the attack on Mariupol theatre where hundreds of civilians were thought to have been sheltering when a missile struck it.

Only last night, video emerged of Russian soldiers fatally shooting two Ukrainian civilians in the back.

Russian soldiers have also been accused of war crimes in Bucha - the town outside of the capital Kyiv - where civilians were said to have been tortured, raped and murdered.

Dan Rivers, who was in Bucha in April, had heard accounts of rape and mass executions, and was shown mass graves in the city after the Russians withdrew.

Some of the dead were buried by friends near their homes in marked graves, but many more were hastily interned in mass graves, with no headstones or even identification.

Officials warned earlier this week that the number of civilians killed in Ukraine since the start of the invasion in February was significantly higher than the 3,381 corroborated deaths.

“The actual figures are higher and we are working to corroborate every single incident,” Matilda Bogner, the head of the UN's human rights monitoring mission, said.