Russia executed Ukrainian Reuters photojournalist Maksim Levin

A Ukrainian photojournalist killed during the first weeks of Russia’s war was likely tortured and then “executed in cold blood” by invading troops, according to an investigation.

Maksim Levin, a longtime contributor to the wire service Reuters, was found dead on April 1 alongside a friend, soldier Oleksiy Chernyshov, in a forest around 12 miles outside the capital, Kyiv.

But after a lengthy investigation in the area, the reporters’ group — known as RSF for its French title, Reporters sans Frontières — now believes the pair were both killed on March 13, the day they went missing.

The evidence suggests that the pair “were executed in cold blood by Russian forces, probably after being interrogated and tortured, on the day they went missing,” the group concluded.

Investigators recovered bullets from the scene that they say are commonly used by the Russian army.

RSF told the Agence France-Presse it would file a complaint specifically related to Levin’s killing with the International Criminal Court in The Hague — its sixth such complaint related to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Ukrainian photojournalist Maksim Levin was likely tortured and executed by Russian troops in April, according to an investigation.
AP Photo/Inna Varenytsia

Levin is one of at least eight journalists killed since Russia invaded on Feb. 24, according to RSF’s tally.

RSF sent investigators from late May to June, among them photographer Patrick Chauvel, who had worked with Levin in the Donbas region.

The team suggested two possible scenarios, including the possibility that Levin and his soldier friend — whose body was burned — were shot after being spotted by Russian soldiers.

Friends and colleagues at Levin's funeral in Kyiv, Ukraine on April 4, 2022.
Friends and colleagues attend Maksim Levin’s funeral in Kyiv, Ukraine, on April 4, 2022.
Photo by Anastasia Vlasova/Getty Images
The bodies of Levin and soldier Oleksiy Chernyshov were found in a forest near Kyvi on April 1.
The bodies of Levin and Oleksiy Chernyshov were found in a forest near Kyiv on April 1.
Photo by Alexey Furman/Getty Images

Alternatively, the pair may have been intercepted in their car and interrogated and tortured separately — with Chernyshov perhaps even burned alive.

RSF said it has handed the material evidence and photos to Ukrainian authorities.