Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has released a report with information and evidence indicating that Ukrainian photo journalist Maks Levin and his friend and bodyguard Oleksiy Chernyshov were executed in cold blood by Russian forces, probably after being interrogated and tortured, on the day they went missing, 13 March 2022. Levin’s body and car were found on 1 April in a forest located on what was the front line north of Kyiv.
The detailed report is entitled How Ukrainian journalist Maks Levin was executed by Russian forces.
"On 10 March, Levin lost his drone in the forest near Moshchun while trying to get footage from Russia’s military invasion in the area. When he returned to these woods three days later, the Russians were already occupying part of the forest. The terrain was hostile but Levin was determined to recover his drone at all costs because he was convinced that the last images it had taken were very important. He did not succeed," RSF recalled.
Accompanied by members of the security forces, RSF managed to locate the crime scene. Levin's charred Ford Maverick was still there. RSF found several bullets at the scene, along with the identity papers of Chernyshov, the soldier who was with Levin, and identified 14 bullet impacts in his car. Several items with possible DNA traces attesting to the presence of Russian soldiers very close to the spot where Levin and Chernyshov were killed were also identified by RSF and some of them were taken. In a final search phase initiated by RSF, metal detectors located a bullet that had probably struck Levin.
RSF was received by Ukraine’s deputy prosecutor-general, the head of the department for investigating crimes against the media, and the head of the Kyiv regional prosecutor’s office. As a result of these meetings, RSF’s Arnaud Froger was formally interviewed as a witness in the Ukrainian investigation into Levin’s murder. This interview, by members of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU), took place in Kyiv on 1 June. During this interview, RSF handed over nine pieces of evidence collected in the field and a USB flash drive containing several dozen photos of the crime scene taken by Patrick Chauvel.
"Those responsible for murdering Levin and Chernyshov may have been members of the Russian Guard’s 106th airborne division or a special forces unit," the report reads.
Aged 40, Levin was an experienced freelancer who often collaborated with LB.ua and with the news agency Reuters.