A Russian soldier has been heard bragging about killing Ukrainian civilians to his wife at home in a phone call intercepted by Kyiv’s security services.
Russian forces have been accused of carrying out numerous war crimes since Putin ordered his troops into Ukraine on February 24, with the first Russian soldier going on trial in Kyiv today.
In the audio recording of the phone call, shared on Friday, a man identified as a Russian soldier can be heard speaking to his wife.
He is heard making shocking confessions, saying that he has killed several civilians.
He brags to his wife about shooting people in the head in a trench, despite them begging him to spare them. His disturbed wife asks how they can possibly go back to living together after he has told her of his actions.
The recording appears to begin in the middle of the couple’s conversation, during which the man is heard – initially reluctantly – telling his wife about civilians he has killed, before he becomes more confident in his confessions.
‘Nastya, I do now want to tell you that I’m shooting – I am shooting at civilians [in Ukraine, to] kill them, you know, break their knees,’ he tells her.
A Russian soldier has been heard bragging about killing Ukrainian civilians to his wife at home in a phone call intercepted by Kyiv’s intelligence services. Pictured: A Russian soldier stands next to local residents who queue for humanitarian aid delivered during Ukraine-Russia conflict, in the besieged southern port of Mariupol, Ukraine March 23, 2022
‘Why do you need this?’ he asks his wife. ‘What did you want to know from me? I will not tell you, Nastya, how it is in reality.’
Nastya replies: ‘I don’t know… I was hoping you weren’t fighting.’
‘Nastya, my sunshine, of course I’m fighting. What do you think?’ her husband responds. ‘I can take a man and, I mean, “bam” in the head with a Kalashnikov machine gun, hit through 100 people with a PKM (a model of machine gun).
‘[I can] tear one’s head off. What don’t you believe in this?’ he presses her. ‘Nastya, I’ve become your f***ing imbecile, I’ve become completely f***ed in the head.’
Sounding fearful, the soldier’s wife asks quietly: ‘How are we going to live together?’
Seemingly ignoring the question, he says: ‘I can kill a person. Like totally in the head. I’ll just kill him in the head. I’m not afraid.’
‘Are you proud of this?’ Nastya asks him.
‘I’m not proud of this,’ he says. ‘I just don’t give a f***. I will return home. I will return home alive and healthy. That’s it. My son, I will… Nastya, I will raise my son, as I should, as I will have to.’
There is a long pause in the recording, but the soldier continues, and in a harrowing confession admits to killing more civilians who he had thrown into trenches.
‘When there were civilians, I was throwing civilians in the trenches. I was shooting everyone in the head, killed them. They cried, begged me. I shot them anyway.’
As if remembering who he is talking to, he starts speaking faster: ‘Nastya, don’t plead to me, so that I’m your ‘good’ (guy). I am yours the way I am. I will return the way I am. Nastya… maybe I will return as your f***ing imbecile.’
Cemetery worker exhume the corpse of a civilian killed in Bucha from a mass grave, in the outskirts of Kyiv, Ukraine, Wednesday, April 13, 2022. The Russian soldier was heard in the phone call telling his wife that he shot Ukrainian civilians in trenches
Pictured: A grave digger prepares the ground for a funeral at a cemetery on April 20, 2022 in Irpin, Ukraine. War crime investigations are underway into Russian military actions in Irpin, along with the town of Bucha and others around Kyiv
‘But you said that you will return a good guy. Now you’re saying,’ she replies, before he interrupts her again.
‘I have never told you lies and I never will, Nastya. I put these [insulting term for Ukrainians] on their knees. They begged me, they said “Russia forever” (in English) and I forced all of them to say “Russia forever”.
‘I made them all stand on their knees like that, these [insulting term for Ukrainians]. I forced them, Nastya. So there is no need to tell me,’ he says. The recording ends.
It was unclear where in Ukraine the man was when he was speaking on the phone.
Sharing the shocking phone call recording, the Security Service of Ukraine wrote: ‘The Russian occupiers became so ferocious in the war in Ukraine that their own wives became afraid of them.
‘Racist women are anxiously awaiting their husbands’ return home because the atrocities they are committing on our land have changed the psyche of soldiers. This is evidenced by a telephone conversation intercepted by the SBU.’
Kyiv’s security services have often released audio recordings they have intercepted of Russian soldiers calling friends and family back home, often to demonstrate the growing unhappiness among Putin’s troops or admissions of horrific actions.
One recording, released last month, captured a Russian man asking his partner back at home for permission to rape Ukrainian women during the invasion.
Release of the audio recording came as another Russian soldier became the first to go on trial for war crimes in Kyiv after he allegedly executed an unarmed 62-year-old man by shooting him in the head.
The trial of 21-year-old Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin (pictured on Friday) marks the first time a member of the Russian military has been prosecuted for a war crime during the conflict
The trial of 21-year-old Sergeant Vadim Shyshimarin marks the first time a member of the Russian military has been prosecuted for a war crime during the 11-week conflict.
Shyshimarin, a captured member of a tank unit, allegedly shot the man through an open car window in the northeastern village of Chupakhivka in the first week of war.
Scores of journalists and cameras packed inside a small courtroom at the Solomyanskyy district court in Kyiv, where the suspect appeared in a small glass cage wearing a blue and grey outfit.
He faces up to life in prison under the penalties spelled out in the section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war.
Ukraine’s top prosecutor is investigating allegations that Russian troops violated Ukrainian and international law by killing, torturing and abusing possibly thousands of Ukrainian civilians.
The judges and lawyers in Shyshimarin’s case discussed procedural matters briefly before the judges left the courtroom and then returned to say the proceedings would continue on another day.
Defense attorney Victor Ovsyanikov acknowledged that the case against the soldier is strong but said the final decision over what evidence to allow will be made by the court in Kyiv. Ovsyanikov said Thursday that he and his client had not yet decided how he will plead.
It is expected that two other cases will be heard in court within the next few days.
Unlike with Shyshimarin, the trial of Russian soldier Mikhail Romanov – accused of rape and murder in the Brovarsky region near Kyiv – will be tried in absentia.
Russian soldier Vadim Shishimarin, 21, suspected of violations of the laws and norms of war, arrives for a court hearing, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine May 13, 2022
As the inaugural war-crimes case in Ukraine, Shyshimarin’s prosecution is being watched closely.
Prosecutor General Iryna Venediktova’s office has said it is looking into more than 10,700 potential war crimes involving more than 600 suspects, including Russian soldiers and government officials.
Many of the alleged atrocities came to light last month after Moscow’s forces ended their bid to capture Kyiv and withdrew from around the capital, exposing mass graves and streets and yards strewn with bodies in towns such as Bucha.
Volodymyr Yavorskyy, coordinator at the Center for Civil Liberties in Kyiv, one of Ukraine’s largest human rights groups, said activists will monitor the Russian soldier’s trial to ensure that his legal rights are protected. It can be difficult, he said, to maintain the neutrality of court proceedings during wartime.
The observance of the trial’s rules and norms ‘will determine how similar cases will be handled in the future,’ Yavorskyy said.
Vadim Karasev, an independent Kyiv-based political analyst, said it’s important for Ukrainian authorities ‘to demonstrate that the war crimes will be solved and those responsible will be brought to justice in line with international standards.’
Shishimarin faces up to life in prison under the penalties spelled out in the section of the Ukrainian criminal code that addresses the laws and customs of war
The town of Bucha in the outskirts of Kyiv revealed a scene of horrors after it was recaptured by Ukraine, with mutilated civilian corpses lining the streets.
Venediktova’s office has said it has received reports of more than 10,000 alleged war crimes, with 622 suspects identified.
The Russian invasion has sparked an exodus of nearly six million civilians, many of whom bear accounts of torture, sexual violence and indiscriminate destruction.
The UN Human Rights Council is due to hold a special session on Ukraine on Thursday.
Moscow has focused on eastern and southern Ukraine since it failed to take Kyiv in the first weeks of its campaign.
Ukraine’s forces were boosted by what Kyiv described as the recapture of four villages around the northeastern city of Kharkiv, close to the border with Russia.
In the Russian city of Belgorod, around 43 miles from Kharkiv, authorities said one person was killed and six injured by Ukrainian shelling.
Belgorod governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said it was ‘the most difficult situation’ facing the border region since Russia sent its troops into Ukraine 11 weeks ago.
Authorities in Russian regions bordering Ukraine have repeatedly accused Ukrainian forces of launching attacks. In April, Gladkov said Ukrainian helicopters carried out a strike on a fuel storage facility in Belgorod.