Levin, a Ukrainian photojournalist who worked for a number of major Western news outlets, including Reuters and the BBC, disappeared on March 13 while covering Russia’s attack on the Ukrainian capital Kyiv. His body was discovered on 1 April.
RSF said it sent two investigators to Ukraine between May 24 and June 3, and they concluded that Levin and the friend he was with were “executed in cold blood.”
“The evidence against Russian troops is irrefutable,” the NGO concludes.
The organization said it found several bullets and shell casings at the scene, identification papers for a friend and a soldier accompanying Levin, and identified 14 bullet wounds in the car they were traveling in. RSF said it also found several items with possible DNA. evidence indicating the presence of Russian soldiers near the crime scene and, most importantly, the discovery of a bullet right next to the place where Levin’s body was found.
“Analysis of photographs from the crime scene, observations made on the spot and physical evidence found clearly point to an execution that may have been preceded by interrogations or even torture,” said RSF general secretary Christophe Delore. “In a war heavily marked by propaganda and Kremlin censorship, Max Levin and his friend paid with their lives for the fight for reliable information.”
RSF said it had submitted its findings, as well as all evidence, to the Prosecutor General’s Office of Ukraine.
Russia has consistently denied attacks on civilians, including journalists, since it began invading Ukraine, 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. According to prosecutors, he worked for the Ukrainian news agency LB.ua and was “famous” in his field, working for Reuters, the BBC, TRT World and the Associated Press.