Maks Levin, the 40-year-old father of four who had been working with Ukrainian and international media, is one of eight journalists killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to RSF’s tally
Media rights group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in an investigation published Wednesday that Russian soldiers killed Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin in March, possibly after having tortured him.
This comes after RSF sent a team to Ukraine to investigate Levin’s death.
RSF has said it would file a complaint specifically related to Levin’s killing with the International Criminal Court in The Hague: its sixth such complaint related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Levin’s body was found with that of his friend, soldier Oleksiy Chernyshov, on 1 April in a forest on the edge of Moschchun, a village about 20 kilometres outside Kyiv.
They had been missing since 13 March Levin embedded with Ukrainian soldiers in an area that was experiencing heavy fighting.
Levin, the 40-year-old father of four had been working with Ukrainian and international media, is one of eight journalists killed since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, according to RSF’s tally.
Let’s take a closer look at Levin:
Levin’s profile on the website Lens Culture describes him as a staff photographer for one of the leading Ukrainian news platforms LB.ua as well as a stringer for Reuters.
As per the website, Levin had been working as a photojournalist since 2006.
Since 2012, he had been involved in developing LB.ua as a new media platform by shooting videos, writing texts and broadcasting online.
Levin had been photographing the war in eastern Ukraine since the very beginning including capturing of Donetsk Regional State Administration; presidential elections in the Donetsk region that were conducted in fact in the military conditions; first “Caucasian” soldiers in Donetsk, the capture of Sloviansk; Battalion “Aydar” and Battalion “Donbass” in Popasna, Lisichansk, Kurakhovo, Ilovaysk, Myrna Dolyna; Debal’tsevo and Mariupol after the bombing.
In 2014, Levin, together with the volunteer Battalion “Donbass”, was surrounded in Ilovaisk (Donetsk region) and managed to flee from the Ilovaisk with three more journalist, as per the website.
Hundreds of Ukrainian soldiers were killed in that battle.
Levin was also co-organiser of the exhibition “Maydan: Human Factor”, the participant of the exhibitions “Ukraine 24. War&Peace” in Los Angeles, “Conflict Zone: Ukraine” in Chicago, “Donbas War and Peace” at the European Parliament in Brussels, “Donbas: War and peace” in Prague, group photo exhibition documenting 2014 Battle of Ilovaisk at the National Taras Shevchenko Museum in Kyiv.
Levin also ran his own documentary projects about autistic children and single dads
‘Executed in cold blood’
Paris-based RSF sent investigators from late May to June, among them photographer Patrick Chauvel, who had worked with Levin in the Donbas region in February.
“The evidence gathered by RSF indicates that the Ukrainian photo-journalist Maks Levin and the friend who was with him were executed in cold blood by Russian forces, probably after being interrogated and tortured, on the day they went missing,” the report stated.
Investigators recovered bullets from the scene they say are commonly used by the Russian army.
Other items such as food packaging, cutlery, cigarette packets and instructions for the use of rockets, also suggested a Russian presence.
The report offers two possible scenarios.
First, that Levin and his friend, whose body was burned, were shot after being spotted by Russian soldiers.
Second, that they were intercepted in their car and interrogated or even tortured separately — perhaps burned alive in the case of Chernyshov — before being shot.
RSF has handed the material evidence and photos from the scene to Ukrainian authorities.
With inputs from agencies