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Ukrainian court sentences Russian POWs to years in jail for shelling Kharkiv region

A court in Ukraine's Poltava region has sentenced Russian POWs Alexander Bobykin and Alexander Ivanov to 11.5 years in prison each under the article on violation of laws and customs of war. They pleaded guilty, the prosecution asked for a 12-year sentence, Ukrainska Pravda reports citing the verdict.

According to the investigation, in the second half of February, the Russian servicemen arrived in the Belgorod region bordering with Ukraine, where they learned from their commanders about the impending war. Bobykin was thedriver and loader of a Grad multiple-launch rocket system, and Ivanov was the gunner. On February 23, Russian units lined up six Grads at a distance of 4-6 kilometers from the Ukrainian border. Bobykin and Ivanov knew that under such conditions, the weapons would work indiscriminately and civilian objects were likely to be hit, according to the investigators.

On the morning of February 24, the Russians were ordered to open fire from Russian territory in the direction of the Kharkiv region; no adjustments were offered to the military to correct the fire. Later that day, Bobykin and Ivanov crossed the border with Ukraine in the Kharkiv region and fired volleys toward Kharkiv. The shelling resulted in damage to an electrical substation, overhead power lines, residential buildings, and a lyceum located in the region's two villages. On February 24, their convoy was destroyed by the Ukrainian military; both defendants hid for three days and subsequently surrendered.

Earlier, the Kiev regional prosecutor's office sent for trial the first criminal case involving wartime rape. The case was initiated against Mikhail Romanov, a Russian soldier of the 239th regiment of the 90th Guards Tank Division in Vitebsk and Novgorod. According to the investigation, in March he broke into one of the private homes in the occupied Brovarydistrict and shot the owner. He then, in a state of alcoholic intoxication, together with another Russian serviceman, raped the wife of the murdered man several times. The woman was threatened with gunfire and violence against her child who was nearby at the time.

The first person accused of war crimes in Ukraine was Vadim Shishimarin, a 21-year-old squad leader of the 4th Tank Kantemirov Division. According to the investigation, he shot and killed a resident of the village of Chupakhovka in the Sumy region on February 28. On May 21 a court in Kiev sentenced him to life imprisonment. Aleksandr Bobykin and Aleksandr Ivanov became the second and third defendants.

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