Russian military courts on Wednesday sentenced two Ukrainian soldiers to 19 and 20 years in prison for allegedly shooting civilians in separate incidents in Mariupol in 2022.

At the start of the conflict last year, Russian forces launched an intense assault on Mariupol, a port city home to more than 400,000 people before the conflict, destroying large swathes in weeks of air strikes, shelling and gun battles.

Russian investigators said Anton Cherednik, a member of Ukraine's naval infantry, killed one man in the southern Ukrainian city -- which was under siege by Russian forces at the time -- after stopping two civilians while on a patrol.

Russia's southern district military court in Rostov-on-Don found Cherednik guilty of "murder", trying to "violently seize power", the "use of prohibited means and methods of warfare" and committing a "terrorist act".


It sentenced him to 19 years -- the first three in prison, and the rest in a Russian penal colony.

Prosecutors said Cherednik shot one of the men after an exchange about a Ukrainian type of bread, "palyanitsa", an unfamiliar and difficult word for Russians to pronounce.

Under questioning, he acknowledged shooting the man, but said it was because he had flinched as if he was going to pull out a weapon, not because he had incorrectly pronounced a word, Russian media reported. 

At Wednesday's hearing, Cherednik sat in a glass dock at the front of a cage, with a shaved head and in dark clothes.

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OSCE condemned it as "a grave violation of participating states' commitments under international law" and called for the immediate release of Vadym Golda and two other jailed OSCE officials.

He pleaded guilty to murder, but rejected the other charges against him and intends to appeal the sentence, his lawyers told Russian media. 

Separately, a court in Russian-controlled Donetsk sentenced a serviceman named Sergei Dumchik to 20 years in a strict regime penal colony.

Prosecutors said Dumchik shot at a car carrying three civilians who managed to escape. 

Russia took thousands of Ukrainian soldiers captive after the fall of Mariupol, with some sent to Russia and others held in occupied eastern Ukraine. 


On Tuesday, Russian-installed authorities in eastern Ukraine sentenced four other captive Ukrainian soldiers to long sentences for alleged violence against civilians during last year's battle for Mariupol.

Ukraine has tried and sentenced a number of Russian soldiers on war crimes charges committed during the conflict.

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