Human rights defender and journalist in Russian captivity

Human rights defender and journalist in Russian captivity. #FreeMaksymButkevych. #145

At the end of June 2022 Ukrainian civic sector and media were rocked by a painful discovery that one of the most prominent human rights defenders, Maksym Butkevych, was taken prisoner by the invading Russian forces. The fate and whereabouts of Maksym remain unknown. Fears over his safety are spreading throughout the global human rights community with organizations such as Open Democracy, Transparency International and National Endowment for Democracy calling for his immediate release. This demand is driven by Ukrainian voices who know Maksym as one of the leading anti-racist and anti-fascist activists, but also as a professional journalist and a media expert who dedicated his efforts to combating hate speech and propaganda.

A co-founder of Hromadske Radio and human rights center ZMINA, a co-founder and coordinator at No Borders Projects that fought to defend refugees seeking asylum in Ukraine before February 24th among other things, Maksym has made a deep impact on Ukrainian human rights community. His family and friends now him as a pacifist, yet the decision to join the Armed Forces of Ukraine was a natural one – to protect his homeland from the aggressor whose invasion has quickly taken a genocidal turn.

Maksym and his unit were captured in Luhansk region, next to towns of Zolote and Hirske. His family and colleagues, including Ukraine Media Center, have initially maintained silence so as not to inflict any damage to a sensitive process of POWs’ exchange. However, Russian propaganda has started a massive campaign aimed at creating a high-profile case, depriving him of the POW status and portraying as a “Nazi” and “propagandist”. Knowing Maksym as a human rights defender who fought vigorously against discrimination in any way or form, Ukrainian civic society answers the call of his parents to counter propaganda with truth about Maksym and his work. By doing so, we hope to negate the lies meant to soil his name and to facilitate his return to Ukraine.

Ukraine In Flames #145 features Maksym’s family as well as some of the many colleagues he has worked with throughout the years of trying to make Ukraine – and the world – a better place.


  • Yevhenia Butkevych, mother of Maksym Butkevych
  • Andriy Kulykov, Ukrainian journalist, media expert, Head of the Commission on Journalistic Ethics
  • Tetyana Troshchynska, editor in chief of Hromadske Radio

UKRAINE IN FLAMES project is created by Ukraine Crisis Media Center and NGO “Euroatlantic Course”. We are aiming at searching a loud support for Ukraine in the war started by Russia on the 24th of February 2022.

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