Press group: Ukraine journalist, soldier 'coldly executed'

Press group: Ukraine journalist, soldier ‘coldly executed’

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — A Ukrainian photojournalist and a soldier accompanying him appear to have been “coldly executed” during the first weeks of the war in Ukraine. while searching Russian-occupied forests for the photographer’s missing camera drone, Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday.

The press freedom group said it sent investigators to the woods north of the capital Kyiv, where the bodies of Maks Levin and military officer Oleksiy Chernyshov were found on April 1. The group said their team counted 14 bullet holes in the couple’s burned helmet. car, which remained at the scene.

Citing the findings of its investigation into the deaths, the group said disused Russian positions were found nearby, one of them still booby-trapped. Remains of food rations, cigarette packs and other rubbish apparently left by Russian soldiers were also found.

Some of Levin and Chernyshov’s belongings, including the soldier’s identity documents and parts of his bulletproof vest and the photographer’s helmet, were also recovered, Reporters Without Borders said.

A Ukrainian metal detector team also located a bullet buried in the ground where Levin’s body had been, he said. The group said the finding suggests he was “probably killed with one, maybe two bullets fired at close range when he was already on the ground.”

A can of gasoline was also found near where Chernyshov’s burned body was found, it added.

Reporters Without Borders said its findings “show that the two men were certainly executed coldly.”

Levin and Chernyshov were last heard from on March 13. A GPS tracker on his vehicle gave his last position, in the woods north of Kyiv, the group said.

The group speculated that Levin may have been looking for his drone when he and Chernyshov were killed.

He said Levin lost his drone in the area on March 10 and was unable to retrieve it because it had come under Russian fire. Drones have become a common tool for photojournalists to obtain aerial photography and video.

Reporters Without Borders said Levin had on occasion shared information obtained from his drone, including on Russian positions, with Ukrainian forces.

“But the use of his drone was above all a journalistic effort, confirmed by his surroundings and shown by the images sold to the media since the beginning of the Russian invasion,” he said.

The group said it has turned over the evidence it collected and dozens of photos to Ukrainian investigators.

The group said it could not confirm whether autopsies had been carried out on the men’s bodies, a step it considered essential to the investigation of their deaths.

He also called on Ukraine’s defense and intelligence agencies to provide investigators with any information they have on Russian units that occupied the area during Moscow’s failed assault on Kyiv..

Separately, Russian officials said a drone attack sparked a fire at an oil processing plant in southwestern Russia on Wednesday.

The fire engulfed a piece of machinery at the Novoshakhtinsk plant in the Rostov-on-Don region. Authorities said dozens of firefighters quickly contained the fire and no one was injured.

The plant said in a statement that the fire was caused by an attack carried out by two drones, describing it as a “terrorist” act. He gave no details, but the state news agency Tass reported that two Ukrainian drones flew over the plant and one of them crashed into a heat exchanger, sparking the fire.

Regional Governor Vasily Golubev said that fragments of two drones were found on the territory of the plant.

Ukrainian authorities have not confirmed the attack.

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Follow AP’s coverage of the war at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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