The Netherlands' Embassy in the U.S. presented Ukrainian activist and journalist Maksym Butkevych, who is now in Russian captivity, with the 2023 Anne Frank Special Recognition Award "for his work to uphold human rights and combat xenophobia and racism."
Butkevych enlisted in the Ukrainian military following Russia's full-scale invasion and was captured in Luhansk Oblast in June 2022. Russian-led proxies in the Donbas sentenced him to 13 years in prison in March on trumped-up charges of "brutal treatment of the civilian population."
According to international law, the so-called "prison sentence" by Russian-led militants has no legal grounds.
Butkevych's father, Oleksandr, accepted the award on his behalf during a ceremony at Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., explaining Maksym's motivation to join the Ukrainian army, the embassy wrote.
"War is a trauma, a tragedy, a misfortune, it makes people cruel. I hope it does not make us so cruel that we'll put human rights on the second or third agenda," Maksym said before his capture, as cited by the embassy.
"We are waging a war precisely for this, to retain the opportunity to embody the values we stand for, which differentiate us from the aggressor."
Before the full-scale invasion, Butkevych co-founded Hromadske radio, the ZMINA Human Rights Center, and the No Borders Project, the latter of which aids asylum-seekers.