Ukrainian journalist Maks Levin and his friend Oleksiy Chernyshov were executed in cold blood by Russian troops near Kyiv in the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a report by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), published on June 22.
“Evidence collected by RSF suggests that Ukrainian photo-journalist Maks Levin and his friend, traveling with him, were executed by Russian troops – likely after interrogation and torture – on the day they disappeared, on March 13, 2022,” the report says.
To investigate their deaths, RSF examined the area, where the bodies of Levin and Chernyshov were found on April 1. The investigative team located 14 bullet holes in Levin’s charred car.
The report suggests Levin was killed by two point-blank shots, while Chernyshov was burnt alive.
RSF also said that nearby area had indicators that Russian soldiers were present there: discarded food packaging and plastic utensils, which could still have traces of the DNA of the murderers on them.
The investigation concluded that Levin and his friend were looking for their drone in the forest, which at that time was crawling with Russian forces.
Levin and Chernyshov were killed either by service members of Russia’s 106th Airborne Division, or by Russian special forces, according to the report. Colonel Vladimir Seliverstov is in command of the division.
RSF provided the Ukrainian authorities with the evidence collected during the investigation.
Levin’s body was discovered near Huta Mezhyhirska, Kyiv Oblast, on April 1.
Levin and Chernyshov disappeared on March 13, as they were working to document the movement of Russian troops in the region.
Levin was born in 1981 near Kyiv. After graduating from Kyiv Polytechnic Institute, he started working to realize his teenage dream of becoming a photographer.
Levin’s career saw him work as a photo-journalist and camera operator for numerous Ukrainian and international news outlets, including Reuters, AP, BBC, TRT World, LB.ua, and Hromadske. His photos were published in The Wall Street Journal, Time, Breaking News Poland, EU Agenda, The Moscow Times, Vatican News, and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty.
Most of his professional work focused on the Russia-Ukraine war, which began in 2014.
“Every Ukrainian photographer dreams of making a photo that stops the war,” Levin said in one interview, talking of his professional goals.
Besides his reporting work, Levin spearheaded dozens of projects for humanitarian organizations, such as the UN, UNICEF, WHO, and OSCE.