Maksym Butkevych is missing

The founder of the ZMINA Human Rights Centre, Ukrainian journalist and military man of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Maksym Butkevych, has disappeared in Russian captivity.

In the summer of 2022, Maksym Butkevych, who had joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine, was captured by Russia in eastern Ukraine. He was later found in the pre-trial detention centre in Luhansk. In March 2023, the so-called court of the “Luhansk People’s Republic” sentenced Maksym Butkevych to 13 years in prison for “killing civilians”.

Various human rights organisations, including Amnesty International, consider this case to be fabricated and an attempt by the Russian occupation authorities to take revenge on Maksym Butkevych for his human rights activities in the past.

In August 2023, he was last seen at an appeal court hearing in Moscow. Maksym himself attended the hearing via video chat from the Luhansk pre-trial detention centre. Maksym’s mother, Yevhenia Butkevych, described what she had seen: “He has lost several dozen kilos. He is missing a front tooth. When asked if he was being tortured, he replied “not anymore”.

The Moscow court left the sentence against Maksym Butkevych unchanged. The human rights defender then disappeared. Since the end of August 2023, Maksym’s family and lawyers do not know where he is being held, and the letters and parcels sent to him by his family and friends in the pre-trial detention centre in Luhansk are returned.

Maksym Butkevych has been involved in human rights activities for about 15 years. He is the founder of several human rights organisations. In October 2023, he received the Anne Frank Special Award from the Embassy of the Netherlands and the United States. The award is given to people who have made a significant contribution to the defence of human rights and the fight against racism, anti-Semitism and hate speech.


Source: BBC Ukraine