War crime victim's widow grapples with loss

STORY: Photographs and memories are what Kateryna Shelipova has left to remember her husband of 36 years.

62-year-old Oleksandr Shelipov was shot dead on February 28 in Chupakhivka, located in Ukraine’s northeast, four days after Russian forces invaded.

The man convicted for his death - 21-year-old tank commander Vadim Shishimarin - was sentenced to life in prison on Monday (May 23), in the first war crimes trial arising from the invasion.

During his trial, he had asked for Kateryna to forgive him.

On the day her husband died, she said she had heard gunshots whilst she was in her yard. After looking out, she says she saw Shishimarin holding an automatic rifle.

"When I left the yard, I didn’t see him immediately. But when I went further out, I looked here and I saw him lying here. Shot straight in the head."

Kateryna still has the bicycle her husband was riding when he was killed.

Shishimarin had pleaded guilty to killing the unarmed Shelipov. Ukrainian state prosecutors said he had been ordered to shoot at him from a car.

Shelipov's killing was one of what Ukraine and Western nations say is a far wider picture: Ukraine has accused Russia of atrocities and brutality against civilians during the invasion and said it has identified more than 10,000 possible war crimes.

Russia has denied targeting civilians or involvement in war crimes in what it calls a “special operation.”

Shelipov’s killing has shaken the entire community in Chupakhivka.

Including his friend Mykola Radkov.

"I could tell you a lot of things, but I can’t. It hurts very much, very much. I still can’t believe that he’s not alive. I still think that he’s here, that he’ll come here and say: ‘Good day’ or ‘Hello.’ That he says this."

Despite Shishimarin’s imprisonment, Mykola is unable to come to terms with the loss of his friend.

“That’s how it is, guys. It hurts. It hurts and hurts. That’s it.”

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting