A Russian soldier who was part of a brigade accused of war crimes in Ukraine has claimed asylum in Spain after fleeing to Madrid.
Nikita Chibrin, 27, claims he was a member of the 64th Separate Guards Motor Rifle Brigade, a unit accused of committing war crimes in the Kyiv region in March.
Presenting himself as a conscientious objector, Chibrin said he deserted his position in Ukraine after four months on June 16 by hiding in a supply truck that was headed to Russia.
From there he managed to contact a human rights group within his country which helped him to get out of Russia and onto a plane to Madrid, where he landed on Tuesday.
At the airport he immediately asked for political asylum.
On Thursday, Chibrin was released from the airport immigration centre and said he will be placed in a temporary refugee centre while his application is being processed.
He claims that he will surely be persecuted for his opposition to the war if he is returned to Russia.
In an interview with The Guardian, he claimed that he did not fire a gun “once” while in Ukraine and had nothing to do with the war crimes that his brigade allegedly perpetrated against the civilian population.
“This is a criminal war that Russia started,” he told the British newspaper. “I want to do everything I can to make it stop.”
He claimed he was eager to testify in an international court about what he heard and saw during his time with the Russian army as it invaded Ukraine.