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(en) France, UCL AL #338 - International, Ukraine: Press release from the French Committee of the European Solidarity Network with Ukraine (RESU) (ca, de, fr, it, pt, tr)[machine translation]

Date Mon, 29 May 2023 08:55:45 +0300

On Friday March 10, Russian media reported that three Ukrainian prisoners of war, including Maksym Butkevych, had been "convicted" of war crimes by the "supreme courts" of the "People's Republics Members of the Russian Federation" of Donetsk and of Luhansk and sentenced to 13 years for Maksym, 18 and a half years for Vladislav Chel and 8 and a half years for Viktor Prokhozei. These "condemnations" announce others. ---- Maksym Butkevych is a very famous prisoner, known in Ukraine but also internationally for years, as a defender of migrants - he had collaborated with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) -, as a defender of human rights, as anti-fascist. He coordinated the European campaign in defense of Crimean prisoners Oleg Sentsov and Alexandr Koltchenko, released in 2019 from Russian prisons. He is a long-time student and later civil society activist in Ukraine, advocating libertarian ideas for a world free from domination and oppression. He is also a recognized journalist: he founded Hromadske Radio, collaborated with BBC World Service and several Ukrainian channels. A convinced anti-militarist, he had nevertheless decided to join the Ukrainian army for the defense of the people and civilians in March 2022 and had taken part in the release of Boutcha.

Prisoner since June 2022, Russian propaganda presents him as a "Nazi" and a "fascist", slander aimed at preparing the "Moscow trial" in Luhansk which was held on March 10, 2023. He was convicted, accused of firing a rocket launcher targeting civilians in Severodonetsk on June 4, 2022. According to 12 Ukrainian and Belarusian human rights organizations, Hromadske Radio and the Zmina human rights center, his unit was never deployed to Severodonetsk.

This infamous accusation aims to portray a recognized human rights defender in Ukraine as in Russia as a "Nazi". As Amnesty International points out, the real violation of the "law of war" is the absence of any fair trial for prisoners of war. And the sentence of 13 years in the cellars of the Luhansk regime, if applied to Maksym and his fellow prisoners, is akin to a death sentence in disguise.

The French Committee of the European Network of Solidarity with Ukraine (RESU) had already launched a campaign, last autumn, during which many democratic, political, associative and trade union organisations, elected officials and personalities had took a stand to demand the release of Maksym Buktevich. It is necessary that all these structures and personalities make their voices heard again: it is urgent !

The pressure of democratic public opinion is essential to save Maksym and the other prisoners sentenced by puppet courts or who are in the hands of the Russian army. They can be saved. Their release must become the symbol of the cause of truth against the "triumphant lie that passes" (Jaurès), for truth and justice !

Freedom for Maksym Butkevych and for the other prisoners of the Russian army !

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