AFP journalist killed in rocket attack in eastern Ukraine

Arman Soldin, Ukraine’s video coordinator for AFP, was 32. (file)

Chasiv Yar, Ukraine:

AFP journalists who witnessed the incident said Arman Soldin, AFP’s Ukraine video coordinator, was killed in a rocket attack near Chasiv Yar in eastern Ukraine on Tuesday.

The attack happened at around 4:30 pm (1330 GMT) on the outskirts of the city close to Bakhmut, the center of several months of fighting in eastern Ukraine.

The AFP team came under fire from Grad rockets while they were with a group of Ukrainian soldiers.

Soldin, 32, died when a rocket landed near where he was lying. The rest of the team was uninjured.

AFP president Fabrice Fries said, “The entire agency is devastated by Armaan’s death.”

“His death is a terrifying reminder of the risks and dangers faced daily by journalists covering the conflict in Ukraine.”

French President Emmanuel Macron paid tribute to Soldin on Twitter, commending his “bravery”.

“Bravely, from the first hours of the conflict, he was at the forefront to establish the facts,” wrote Macron.

In a statement on Twitter, Ukraine’s Defense Ministry expressed its “heartfelt condolences” to Soldin’s family and colleagues, saying he was killed in a Russian missile attack on Chasiv Yar, east of Donetsk.

He added, “He dedicated his life to informing the world about the truth. His legacy as well as his cause will live on.”

Born in Sarajevo, Soldin was a French national who began working at AFP’s Rome bureau in 2015 as an intern and was later hired in London.

He was part of the first AFP team sent to Ukraine after the start of Russia’s invasion on February 24, 2022, arriving the next day.

Soldin had been living in Ukraine since September, leading the team’s video coverage and regularly traveling east and south to the front line.

‘Dedicated to his craft’

According to the media advocacy group Reporters Without Borders (RSF) and the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), Soldin’s death means that at least 11 journalists or fixers and drivers of media teams covering the war in Ukraine have been killed.

In Washington, the White House also paid tribute to Soldin, with press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre saying the world was “indebted” to the journalists who lost their lives covering the conflict.

“Journalism is fundamental to a free society,” she said in a statement.

“Arman’s brilliant work makes us so proud of AFP’s journalism in Ukraine,” said Phil Chetwind, the agency’s global news director.

“Arman’s death is a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers of covering this war. Our thoughts tonight are with his family and friends, and with all of our people in Ukraine.”

He added that Christine Bouhagier, AFP’s Europe director, remembered Soldin as “a real on-the-ground reporter, always ready to work in even the most difficult places.” “He was completely devoted to his craft.”

Colleagues said Soldin especially knew how to describe the lives of ordinary people caught up in the Ukraine conflict, desperately trying to survive amid the chaos.

In Kiev, they find a tender moment between a conscripted father and his young son, who fled abroad, bonding over an online strategy game.

Earlier this month, he also rescued an injured hedgehog from a ditch and nursed him back to health. He named it Lucky.

The founder of the Ukrainian animal rights organization UAnimals, Oleksandr Todorchuk, spoke of Soldin’s “absolute kindness” in helping the hedgehog.

Todorchuk wrote on Facebook that Unanimals was setting up a grant for volunteers and shelters that rescue elephants “in memory of Soldin and his great heart.”

(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)