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Ukrainian journalist in Russian captivity – Ukrainian NGOs call on international community for help

Maksym Butkevych, journalist, human rights activist and co-founder of Hromadske Radio, the independent radio station in Ukraine, has been taken prisoner by the Russians. The Alliance of Ukrainian Organizations is now appealing to the international community to obtain Butkevych’s release and to spread information about his situation.

Between June 21 and June 24, 2022, he was captured by the Russian army along with 13 other soldiers from his military unit in the Luhansk region. He had previously voluntarily joined the Ukrainian army in March.

Butkevych’s parents have had no contact with him recently and learned of his fate from the Russian media at the end of June. His exact whereabouts are unknown.

Human rights activists, friends and colleagues of Butkevych in Ukraine and other countries are now appealing to the international and European community: “Please help determine the exact whereabouts of the prisoners of war and gain access to Maksym and other Ukrainian prisoners.”

The Alliance of Ukrainian Organizations (AOU), an association of Ukrainian civil society organizations in Berlin, joined this appeal. Oleksandra Bienert, a Berlin-based Ukrainian activist, describes her collaboration with the human rights activist as follows: “Maksym Butkevych was and is one of our most important partners in human rights engagements in Ukraine. A prominent example was our engagement with the Nigerian student Olaolu Femi, who was the victim of a racist attack in the eastern Ukrainian city of Luhansk.”

Butkevych is co-founder and coordinator of the “No Borders” project, which helps asylum seekers and migrants in Ukraine, as well as refugees from the eastern Ukrainian regions occupied by Russia since 2014. Butkevych is also a prominent figure in Kyiv: he taught as a guest lecturer at the Kyiv-Mohyla Academy National University and was a member of the Ukrainian board of Amnesty International. Oksana Meleshchenko

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