Day 380: Ukrainian prisoner of war Maksym Butkevych “sentenced” to 13 years in prison following sham trial in Russian-occupied territory

The situation in Bakhmut remains tense as the Russian forces continue the offensive, trying to encircle the city. Ukrainian prisoner of war, prominent human rights defender Maksym Butkevych was “sentenced” to 13 years in prison following a sham trial in Russian-occupied territory. He joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces in March 2022 and was taken prisoner in Luhansk region.

Situation in Bakhmut remains tense as Russian forces continue offensive

Intensity of Bakhmut fighting is high as the Russian forces continue the offensive operation, Ukraine’s Deputy Defense Minister Hanna Malyar said on Friday, March 10.

“The situation in Bakhmut continues to be escalated. The enemy continues the offensive, trying to break through our defense lines,” Malyar said on Telegram in what she said was a brief situation update. The Ukrainian Armed Forces are doing everything possible not to let the Russian forces advance, she added. 

Ukraine’s defense forces repelled 102 attacks on the Kupyansk, Lyman, Bakhmut, Avdiyivka, and Shakhtarsk axes, where the Russian forces concentrate their main efforts, the General Staff of the Ukrainian Armed Forces said. The Russian troops do not stop attempts to encircle Bakhmut.

Ukrainian prisoner of war Maksym Butkevych “sentenced” to 13 years in prison following sham trial in Russian-occupied territory

“Courts” in Russia-occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk regions “convicted” and “sentenced to prison terms” three Ukrainian war prisoners, including human rights defender Maksym Butkevych, the Investigative Committee of Russia said. He was “sentenced” to 13 years of imprisonment in a maximum security penal colony.


Butkevych, a co-founder of Hromadske Radio and prominent human rights activist joined the Ukrainian Armed Forces in March 2022, days after Russia began a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. In July 2022, he was identified on a video showing Ukrainian service members taken prisoner near Zolote and Hirske, in Luhansk region.

The Investigative Committee of Russia claimed that the Ukrainians were found guilty of “cruelty against civilians and using banned methods in an armed conflict.” Butkevych was also convicted of “two attempted murders and premeditated damage to property.” 

Two other “convicted” service members — Viktor Pokhozey and Vladyslav Shel were “sentenced” to 8.5 and 18.5 years in prison respectively.

The Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemned the sentences as illegal, null, and void. 

“The fake trial staged in the Russian Federation was intended to legalize yet another political murder of Ukrainian citizens. The announced sentences are illegal, null and void,” a statement released on Friday says.

The Foreign Ministry calls on the international community “to condemn the sham trial of Maksym Butkevych and two other citizens of Ukraine, to demand the Russian Federation release them and other Ukrainians illegally imprisoned in temporarily occupied territories and in Russia, and to take effective measures to counter Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”

Wagner PMC: mercenaries, russian soldiers or terrorists? Ukraine in Flames #365

The Wagner Private Military Company has been operating in Ukraine since 2014 when russia illegally annexed Crimea and part of Eastern Ukraine. Beyond Ukraine, the Wagner group has been active in several African and Middle Eastern countries where it has participated in regional conflicts, exploited resources and spread russia’s influence. Watch Ukraine in flames #365 to find out how such private military groups can be interpreted from the point of view of international law and does the attitude of the Ukrainian side to mercenaries differ from that of the Armed Forces of russia.


  • Oleksandr Pavlichenko, Executive Director of the Ukrainian Helsinki Human Rights Union
  • Andriy Yakovlev, Managing Attorney of Umbrella Law Firm, Expert of Media Initiative for Human Rights