Updated to add Frolkin's sentencing.
A Russian court has sentenced a soldier who admitted to committing war crimes in Ukraine to a 5.5-year suspended sentence, the Sibir.Realii news website reported Thursday.
The Khabarovsk Garrison Court Martial in Russia's Far East found Daniil Frolkin, 21, guilty of spreading so-called “fake news” about the Russian military’s activities in Ukraine.
Prosecutors had requested a six-year prison sentence.
Frolkin is one of four Russian servicemen suspected of robberies, looting and murder of civilians in the Ukrainian village of Andriivka who iStories identified last year by using photos the soldiers took on a phone stolen from a resident.
When contacted by iStories, Frolkin confessed to the murder of a male resident of Andriivka who was identified as 47-year-old Ruslan Yaremchuk.
“I…Frolkin Daniil Andreevich, confess to all the crimes that I committed in Andriivka. [I confess] to shooting civilians, robbing civilians, confiscating their phones and [confess] that our command does not give a f*** about our fighters, about the entirety of the infantry that fights on the front line,” Frolkin told iStories reporters in a video call in August.
“I killed one. But I wanted to save as many people [as I could],” Frolkin said, adding that he decided to confess in order to save other fellow soldiers who are being sent to the “slaughter” in Ukraine.
“[I will be jailed] not for what I did in Ukraine, but for all the information I will give you. I just want to confess to everything and explain what is happening in our country. I think that it would be better if the war never started,” Frolkin told iStories in the video interview.
In Ukraine, Frolkin is wanted on criminal charges of violating the laws and customs of war, and faces up to a life sentence in prison if arrested there.
Located about 60 kilometers west of Kyiv, Andriivka was occupied by Russian forces in the first days of the invasion in February.
At least 40 of Andriivka's roughly 1,000 residents were killed during the Russian occupation that lasted until April, according to the BBC.
Russia’s Defense Ministry had claimed that “the civilian population is not in danger” as its troops invaded Ukraine.
Shortly after the start of the war, Russia passed laws that punish sharing information that contradicts the Kremlin’s narrative of its “special military operation” in Ukraine with up to 15 years in prison.