The journalists’ defense organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) published on Wednesday June 22 an investigation carried out in Ukraine which, according to it, proves that the Ukrainian photoreporter Maks Levin was killed, and possibly tortured, by Russian soldiers. in March.
This “report will give rise to our sixth complaint” before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague, RSF told AFP. This complaint will “exclusively on the case of Maks Levin”was “mentioned among several other cases in our fifth complaint on May 27”added the association.
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The body of Ukrainian journalist Maks Levin and his companion, soldier Oleksiy Chernyshov, were found on April 1 in a forest on the edge of Moschchun, a village about twenty kilometers from kyiv. The two men had disappeared on March 13.
The journalist was “coldly executed”
From May 24 to June 3, RSF sent a team of investigators to the scene, including war photographer Patrick Chauvel, who had worked with Maks Levin for a few days in Donbass province at the end of February.
“The investigations have brought to light elements indicating that the photoreporter and his companion were coldly executed, after having been probably interrogated and tortured by Russian forces on the day of their disappearance”write the investigators in their report.
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They rely in particular on the photos of the crime scene and the material elements found on the spot: bullets according to them commonly used by the Russian army and evidence of the Russian presence on the scene (“food wrappers, plastic cutlery, cigarette pack, instruction list for using rockets…”).
Two possible scenarios
The report makes two assumptions about the course of events. In the first scenario, Maks Levin and his attendant, whose body was discovered burned, may have been shot after being unknowingly spotted by Russian soldiers.
In the second scenario, the two men could have been intercepted in their car by Russian soldiers, interrogated or even tortured separately (perhaps burned alive for Oleksiy Chernyshov), then shot.
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RSF says it has been heard by the Ukrainian courts and has “handed over nine material evidence collected in the field as well as a USB key containing several dozen photos taken by Patrick Chauvel at the crime scene”.
Maks Levin is one of eight journalists killed since the start of the war in Ukraine. The latest is Frenchman Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff, killed by shrapnel fired by Russian forces on May 30.