Russian Soldiers Convicted For Shelling Civilians in Kharkiv Region

A woman weeps as she sits outside a building that was damaged by bombing in the eastern Ukraine town of Kharkiv on February 24, 2022, as Russian armed forces launched a military invasion of Ukraine. – The Russian president launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, killing dozens and forcing hundreds to flee for their lives in the pro-Western neighbour. Russian air strikes hit military facilities across the country and ground forces moved in from the north, south and east, triggering condemnation from Western leaders and warnings of massive sanctions. (Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP)

Two Russian soldiers were both sentenced to more than 11 years in jail on Tuesday, May 31, after a Ukrainian court found them guilty of firing artillery at civilian areas.

Alexander Bobykin and Alexander Ivanov, the servicemen convicted in a court in the central region of Poltava, were on trial for violating norms and customs of warfare.

The verdict comes one week after a court in the capital Kyiv handed a 21-year-old Russian solider a life sentence for killing a civilian in Sumy Region,  the country’s first judicial reckoning on Russia’s invasion.

“The Kotelevsky District Court in Poltava Region sentenced them to 11 years and six months in prison,” Ukrainian Prosecutor-General Iryna Venediktova said in a statement on social media. Her office distributed a blurred picture of two men with shaved heads wearing casual clothing and sitting in a transparent box for defendants in the courtroom.

Ukrainian news agency Interfax reported that both defendants had pleaded guilty to firing Grad missiles on two villages in the north-eastern part of Kharkiv Region,  namely Kozacha Lopan and Veterynarne, in the early days of the war.

It said their legal defence had requested a more lenient sentence.

All three verdicts against Russian servicemen in the last week, which followed short trials, are expected to be the first in a wave of trials. Ukraine says it has opened thousands of investigations into alleged war crimes since Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered troops into Ukraine on Feb. 24.

Venedyktova announced this week the country’s first rape case, allegedly committed by a Russian soldier who is currently at large.

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