REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS (RSF) has urged the Ukrainian and French authorities to conduct a thorough investigation into a French video reporter’s death in a hail of Russian rocket fire in eastern Ukraine yesterday (9 May), and paid tribute to the courage he displayed in the course of covering the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine.
Arman Soldin, who worked for the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency, was the third French journalist to be killed since Russia launched its invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022.
He was killed by Russian Grad rocket fire near the city of Bakhmut, the scene of heavy fighting since August. None of the four other AFP journalists with him at the time was injured. They were accompanying Ukrainian solders in Chasiv Yar, a town near Bakhmut, in an area that has been subjected to repeated bombardment.
Jeanne Cavelier, Head of RSF’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk said: “We pay tribute to the courage of Arman Soldin, who lost his life informing the world. At least ten journalists have been killed since the start of this war, a grim toll for their loved-ones and, more broadly for press freedom. In all cases where RSF has been able to establish the facts, the deadly fire has come from Russian forces. We call on the Ukrainian and French authorities to conduct a transparent and thorough investigation into the circumstances of this AFP reporter’s death, so that those responsible can be brought to justice.
Aged 32, Soldin was very committed to his reporting and had been covering the fighting and life at the front line ever since arriving in Ukraine shortly after the start of the war. Because of his Bosnian origin, the fate of the Ukrainians he interviewed resonated with his own personal history. He also displayed an exceptional curiosity and sensitivity, to the point of rescuing and caring for an injured hedgehog he recently found in Chasiv Yar.
Eight journalists were killed in the field in the first six months of the war, including two French video reporters, BFM TV’s Frédéric Leclerc-Imhoff and Pierre Zakrzewski, who worked for Fox News. After a recent increase in the intensity of the fighting, Soldin was the second journalist to be killed in the past two weeks, following Bohdan Bitik, a Ukrainian reporter and fixer killed by Russian sniper fire on 26 April.
Some 15,000 Ukrainian and foreign reporters were accredited to cover the war in Ukraine prior to the new procedure that took effect on 1 May, under which accreditation is now limited to six months.
* Source: Reporters Without Borders