The pro-journalist and freedom of expression non-governmental organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) says it has evidence that Russian soldiers executed journalist Maks Levin in a forest near Kyiv on March 13.
Levin, a Ukrainian photojournalist who has worked with several major Western media outlets, including Reuters and the BBC, disappeared on March 13 while covering Russia’s assault on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. His body was discovered on April 1.
RSF said it sent two investigators to two Ukraines from May 24 to June 3 and concluded that Levin, and a friend he was with, “were executed in cold blood.”
“The evidence against the Russian forces is overwhelming,” the NGO said in a summary.
The organization said it found several bullets and cartridge casings at the scene, the identity documents of the friend and soldier who accompanied Levin, and identified 14 bullet holes in the car in which they were traveling. RSF said it also found several items with possible DNA. evidence, which testified to the presence of Russian soldiers in the vicinity of the crime scene and, more importantly, located a bullet right next to the place where Levin’s body was found.
“The analysis of the photos of the crime scene, the observations made at the scene and the material evidence recovered clearly point to an execution that may have been preceded by interrogations or even acts of torture,” said RSF Secretary General Christophe Delore, about the report. “In the context of a war heavily marked by Kremlin propaganda and censorship, Maks Levin and his friend paid with their lives for their struggle to obtain reliable information.”
RSF said it submitted its findings, as well as all evidence, to the Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s office.
On April 2, Ukraine’s prosecutor general’s office said the journalist’s body had been found in the Vyshgorod district, just north of Kyiv, adding that “soldiers of the Russian Armed Forces killed the unarmed Maksym Levin with two shots”.
Russia has consistently denied targeting civilians, including journalists, since its invasion of Ukraine began, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
CNN was unable to independently verify RSF’s findings.
Levin began working as a photojournalist in 2006, according to his biography on LensCulture, a photography resource website. He worked for the Ukrainian news outlet LB.ua and was “well known” in his field, having contributed to Reuters, the BBC, TRT World and the Associated Press, according to the attorney general’s office.