Thursday, March 23, 2023
HomeWorldRussian soldier who confessed to killing Ukrainian civilian jailed over ‘fake news’

Russian soldier who confessed to killing Ukrainian civilian jailed over ‘fake news’

A Russian soldier who confessed to killing a civilian in Ukraine last year has been sentenced to five and a half years in prison by a military court in Russia’s far east on charges of spreading “fake news” about the army.

In an interview with the independent news outlet Istories last August, Daniil Frolkin, 21, said he shot and killed a male civilian in Andriivka, a village near Kyiv that was occupied by Russian forces shortly after the start of the invasion.

“I tell him: “Get down on your knees.” And I just put a bullet through his forehead. Killed one person,” Frolkin told Istories in a phone conversation published by the outlet.

iStories identified the dead man as 47-year-old Ruslan Yaremchuk.

“I, a military serviceman from military unit 51460, Guards Private First Class, Frolkin Daniel Andreevich, confess to all the crimes I committed in Andreevka, to shooting civilians, stealing from civilians, taking their phones,” Frolkin added.

At least 40 of Andriivka’s approximately 1,000 residents were killed during the Russian occupation that lasted until April, according to the BBC.

Frolkin was part of the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade, a notorious unit based in the Khabarovsk region that has been accused of committing war crimes in Bucha.

Vladimir Putin has previously awarded the 64th Motor Rifle Brigade the honorary title of “guards” and praised the unit for its “great heroism and courage”.

Frolkin is the first known soldier to be sentenced by Russia after admitting to killing civilians. The move is widely seen as a way to deter other servicemen from speaking out.

Moscow has repeatedly denied that its troops were engaged in human rights abuses in Ukraine, despite first-hand accounts by journalists and human rights groups.

Since the start of the war, the Kremlin has passed a series of draconian laws that punish spreading information that contradicts Moscow’s official narrative on the so-called special military operation with jail time of up to 15 years.

On Tuesday, the State Duma voted to approve an amendment that would punish those found guilty of discrediting “volunteer” groups fighting in Ukraine, a bill that was widely seen to target critics of the mercenary group Wagner.

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