On 1 April, after a lengthy search, police found the body of the Ukrainian photojournalist and documentary filmmaker Maks Levin near the village of Huta Mezhyhirska in Kyiv Oblast. The Office of the Prosecutor General wrote in the statement that:
“According to preliminary information, unarmed Maks Levin was killed by servicemen of the Russian Armed Forces with two small arms shots”
Maks Levin began documenting the full-scale Russian invasion on 24 February. He traveled in his own car to record the fighting near Kyiv in his own car. According to a friend, he left the car near the village of Huta Mezhyhirska in Vyshhorod Raion of Kyiv Oblast, and headed for the village of Moshchun. On 22 March, Maks Levin’s friend and colleague Markiyan Lyseiko wrote on Facebook that his last contact with Levin was on 13 March.
Prominent photojournalist and filmmaker Maks Levin has disappeared on the front line near Kyiv.
He went in his car to photograph the fighting. It later became known it was quite intense. He could be wounded or taken prisoner by the Russian military,–LB https://t.co/UcSn6L7AfZ pic.twitter.com/sbgZIkgMu4
— Euromaidan Press (@EuromaidanPress) March 22, 2022
The journalist, who was born in Kyiv Oblast, was 40 years old. He dreamed of becoming a photographer from the age of 15. He was married and had four young sons.
During his career, Maks was employed by or freelanced with many publications and agencies: Reuters, BBC, TRT World, Associated Press, Hromadske, LB.ua, and UNIAN. His photos were published by the Wall Street Journal, TIME, Breaking News Poland, EU AGENDA, World News, The Moscow Time, Korrespondent.net, ELLE, TV-24, Radio Bulgaria, Ukraine Media Center, Vatican News, Radio Svoboda (RFE / RL).
Ukrainian servicemen at their positions. 26–27 February 2022. Photos by Maks Levin
From 2014, onward, Maks Levin worked as a journalist at various hotspots during the Revolution of Dignity and in the Donbas. In Ilovaisk, he managed to escape with a group of colleagues and Ukrainian volunteers, rescuing three people.
Most of his documentary projects are related to the war in Ukraine.
“Every Ukrainian photographer dreams of taking a photo that will stop the war,” Levin wrote.
Levin was a co-founder of the AFTERILOVAISK journalism project and the Parents’ Club social project. AFTERILOVAISK is a collection of multimedia stories about the living and deceased Ukrainians in Ilovaisk, founded in August 2014. The Parents’ Club is a social project about responsible parenting, launched by Maks Levin. It is an “association that inspires dads to be heroes for their children–to take an active part in their lives, which, according to the founders, should solve a large number of social problems.”
In 2015, President Petro Poroshenko awarded Maks Levin with the Order of Merit of the III degree.
A month before, on 1 March 2022, Maks Levin wrote on Facebook:
“These eight years of war, and before that the Maidan, have changed Ukraine and Ukrainians very much. These six days of war have changed us dramatically and there’s no way back. It’s almost impossible to understand this without experiencing what we’ve been through. You feel it with your skin. When the words of the Ukrainian anthem take your breath away.
Why, Russia? You’re already hated by every blade of grass on the banks of the Irpin river. Not to mention by the whole world. Try to understand it by listening to the lyrics of the song “We will never be brothers” by Anastasiya Dmytruk. Maybe you will understand… [Dead Russian soldiers] saw Kyiv on the horizon. But their families will no longer see them alive.”
On 2 April, Maks Levin’s friend and colleague Markiyan Lyseiko wrote on Facebook:
“We hugged when we left Ilovaisk, we went to support our boys [Ukrainian servicemen], filmed stories about them, we swam and rode in the river, lit a fire, watched the stars, went to the mountains, froze in a tent, bought the gear, got bored when it was quiet at the front, went for water to the spring in the countryside, and you planned to plant vegetables. And all this time you were looking for the perfect place [to buy a hut] in the mountains… And when the “great” war began, you called me and said, ‘Come on! There’s something we have to shoot. Let’s go together again.’ I did’t arrive in time. Something went wrong…I will find this perfect place in the mountains that you didn’t have time to find.”
Maks Levin shot documentaries for Hromadkse. One of his last works for Hromadske was the story of a homeless veteran from Luhansk Oblast. Although it has no English subtitles yet, the video itself testifies to Levin’s talent as a videographer.
According to LB.ua, where Maks Levin worked for a long time, he and Oleksiy Chernyshov, a soldier and former photographer, decided to work together to document the consequences of Russia’s full-scale invasion. The fate of Oleksiy Chernyshov is currently unknown.
According to Radio Svoboda, Maks Levin is the sixth journalist killed in the line of duty since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion on 24 February.
On 31 March, an exhibition about Russian war crimes against Ukrainian journalists opened in Lviv.