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RSF: Noted Ukrainian Photographer Was Executed by Russian Troops

FILE - Ukrainian photographer Maks Levin carries a cat near the line of separation from Russian-backed separatists in Donetsk region, Ukraine, Jan 25, 2022.

An investigation conducted by Reporters Without Borders (RSF) concludes that noted Ukrainian photographer and documentary maker Maks Levin, along with a soldier who was accompanying him for security, was executed by Russian troops near Kyiv in March as they searched for a piece of photographic equipment they had lost.

The Paris-based RSF said in a report that investigations it conducted from May 24 to June 3 as well as information and evidence obtained indicate that Levin and Oleksiy Chernyshov were executed by Russian soldiers in a forest around the village of Moshchun near Kyiv on March 13, "possibly after being interrogated and even tortured."

The investigation, conducted by Arnaud Froger, the head of RSF’s investigation desk, and Patrick Chauvel, a French war photo reporter who had worked with Levin in Ukraine, concluded that Levin and Chernyshov were captured by Russian soldiers while trying to locate a drone Levin used for his coverage of Russia's unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, launched on February 24.

RSF said the compiled evidence, including bullets, identity documents, items with DNA traces attesting to the presence of Russian soldiers at the scene, Levin's charred Ford Maverick car, and other items, allowed it to conclude that Levin and his bodyguard were executed.

“Analysis of the photos of the crime scene, the observations made on the spot, and the material evidence recovered clearly point to an execution that may have been preceded by interrogation or even acts of torture," Christophe Deloire, RSF secretary-general, said in a statement.

"In the context of a war heavily marked by propaganda and Kremlin censorship, Maks Levin and his friend paid with their lives for their fight for reliable information. We owe them the truth. And we will fight to identify and find those who executed them," Deloire added.

The 40-year-old Levin is one of eight journalists killed in the course of their work since the start of the war in Ukraine. His body was found in the forest on April 2.

A father of four, he had been working with many Ukrainian and international media outlets, including Reuters, the BBC, and Associated Press.