Russia convicted a soldier who admitted killing a civilian in Ukraine — not for killing anyone but for spreading illegal 'fake news'

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Russia convicted a soldier who admitted killing a civilian in Ukraine — not for killing anyone but for spreading illegal 'fake news'
A Ukrainian serviceman walks on an abandoned Russian army tank in Andriivka, Ukraine, April 5, 2022.Vadim Ghirda/AP Photo
  • A Russian court sentenced a soldier after he confessed to killing a civilian in Ukraine.
  • It seems the case was nothing to do with whether he killed anybody — but that he talked about it.
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A Russian court convicted a soldier who admitted killing a civilian in Ukraine — not for any war crime, but for breaking its "fake news" law, according to local reports.

Daniil Frolkin was given a suspended sentence in a military court in Khabarovsk, in eastern Russia, according to the news site Siberia.Realities, an affiliate of Radio Free Europe.

Last August, Frolkin gave an interview to another news site, Important Stories, where he confessed to the killing of a Ukrainian civilian in the village of Andriivka, west of Kyiv.

Andriivka was under Russian control between late February-April 2022, according to Important Stories. At least 40 people in the village were killed there, the BBC reported.

In June, Ukraine's Office of the Prosecutor General announced Frolkin was suspected of killing a civilian there — something that Frolkin initially denied.

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But two hours after first talking to Important Stories, he returned with a confession, and denounced his commanders. He told the outlet he was ordered to "dispose of" a civilian, which he said he did.

"I, a serviceman of military unit No 51460, Guards Yefreytor Daniil Frolkin, confess to all the crimes I have committed in Andriivka, to shooting civilians, robbing civilians, seizing their phones and the fact that our command doesn't give a fuck about our fighters, the infantry fighting on the frontline," he said, in a statement he asked the reporter to record.

Describing the act, Frolkin told the outlet: "I tell him, 'Step forward.' He steps forward. I say, 'Get on your knees.'" He then described shooting the man in the head.

The outlet identified the alleged victim as likely being 47-year-old Ruslan Yaremchuk.

Frolkin had left the armed forces as of the article's publication, according to Siberia.Realities.

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In December last year, Russian authorities opened a case against him — not for killing anybody, but on "fake news" charges, seeking six years in prison, as Siberia.Realities reported.

His suspended sentence, handed down this week, puts him under five and a half years of probation and bars him from holding government jobs for two years, the outlet reported.

President Vladimir Putin has imposed strict controls on discussion of the war in Ukraine — which in Russia, must be described as a "special military operation."

It outlaws contradicting the Kremlin's official version of events in the war — in which Russia commits no atrocities and stringently avoids harming civilians.

As of March last year, the law threatened imprisonment of up to 15 years and fines of up to 5 million rubles ($45,000) for anyone who shares "false information" that "discredits" the armed forces.

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Putin gave Frolkin's unit an honorary title of "guards" in April last year for heroism and courage, Siberia.Realities reported.

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