Russian troops 'executed' photographer in Ukraine, press group says

Ukrainian photographer Maksim Levin holds a cat near the line of separation from Russian-backed separatists in Luhansk region, Ukraine on Jan 6, 2022. 
PHOTO: Reuters

PARIS – Ukrainian photographer Maksim Levin was "executed in cold blood" alongside his friend Oleksiy Chernyshov by Russian forces north of Kyiv on March 13, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) said in a 16-page report on Wednesday (June 22).

"The evidence against the Russian forces is overwhelming," the press freedom group said in an introduction to the report on its website.

Reuters could not independently verify the report's conclusions. Russia's defence ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Born in 1981, Levin was a documentary filmmaker and had occasionally contributed to Reuters coverage of the country since 2013. He went missing on March 13, the day RSF says he was executed.

John Pullman, Reuters global managing editor for visuals, said of Levin in April: "His death is a huge loss to the world of journalism. Our thoughts are with his family at this difficult time."

RSF said it examined evidence at the scene which included bullets and Levin's burnt-out car, as well as photos taken of Levin and Chernyshov's bodies when they were discovered on April 1.

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The report said the position of Chernyshov's body and other evidence indicated he may have been burned alive and Levin was likely killed by one or two gunshots from close range.

It said a photo of his corpse showed three visible bullet impacts.

RSF gathered evidence from May 24 to June 3.

Ukrainian prosecutors say Levin was killed by two shots from small arms by members of Russia's armed forces. Reuters was unable to independently verify this information.