We are all waiting for Maksym: we will hug him and continue making this world better.

Human rights advocate, journalist, screening moderator and master of ceremonies for the Docudays UA film festival, co-founder of ZMINA Human Rights Center and Hromadske Radio Maksym Butkevych is being held captive by Russians. He was captured in combat in the area of the occupied settlements of Zolote and Hirske, Luhansk Region. Docudays UA calls on the Ukrainian and international culture communities to demand that Maksym is released and to share information about his situation.

In early March 2022, Maksym Butkevych put his work in helping refugees, his journalistic, educational and human rights work on hold and joined the Armed Forces of Ukraine.

Butkevych’s capture was reported by Russian propagandists back on June 24; a video recording of his interrogation was published.

At the moment, efforts to ensure his release are managed by the United Center for the Search and Release of Prisoners of War. According to Maksym’s mother, there is no connection with him.

Svitlana Smal, Executive Director of NGO Docudays: “Since 2008, when Maksym Butkevych first joined Docudays UA as a moderator of discussions of human rights documentaries, he has essentially become a member of our team and a kind of ‘mark of quality’ for the festival’s human rights education section. To be honest, I can’t even remember the exact year. It seems that as long as there have been human rights discussions at the Docudays UA festival, Maksym has been with us. You can’t even imagine the human rights festival without Maksym Butkevych anymore. His signature optimism and strong civic position inspired us during difficult times on many occasions. The most admirable thing about him is that he always views everything that’s happening around him from the human rights perspective, which really helps young team members to keep their eyes on the goals in difficult situations. I have always been impressed by Maksym’s unique knowledgeability and industriousness: he has worked for various Ukrainian media, he was a volunteer host and reported during the Revolution of Dignity. As a coordinator of the No Borders project, he has consulted Ukrainian documentary filmmakers, participated in our Civil Pitch project, and was involved in director Dmytro Tiazhlov’s film No status. Ukraine, which is still being screened all over Ukraine.

“Nobody was surprised to see Maks in the first lines of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. As if it could have been any different. We are all waiting for Maksym: we will hug him and continue making this world better. I hope that the human rights community’s work to rescue Maksym will help him return to us as soon as possible.”


Maksym Butkevych is a Ukrainian human rights defender and journalist who joined the Ukrainian Army in March 2022. Maksym is a coordinator and co-founder of the No Borders project whose goal is to help asylum seekers and Ukrainian displaced people.

He is a co-founder of the ZMINA Human Rights Center, Hromadske Radio, moderator and master of ceremonies for the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival.

He has dedicated about 10 years to human rights work and is one of the most prominent Ukrainian human rights advocates. He specializes in helping refugees and IDPs and opposing discrimination.

Maksym also used to work for BBC World Service and a number of national Ukrainian TV channels. He was a guest lecturer at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy for a few years, and a member of the board of the Ukrainian office of Amnesty International and of the Public Council for the Ministry of Internal Affairs.