A French video journalist of Bosnian background was killed yesterday at around 4:30pm by Russian rocket fire near Chasiv Yar, about 6 kilometres from Bakhmut, in Eastern Ukraine.
Arman Soldin, 32, of Agence France-Presse (AFP) died when his team came under Grad fire while with a detachment of Ukrainian soldiers. He was killed when a rocket struck close to where he was taking cover. The rest of the members of the AFP team were uninjured.
According to Reporters Without Borders, Soldin is the eleventh journalist, fixer or driver to have been killed by Russian forces while in the line of duty since the start of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Earlier this month, Soldin kept his video camera rolling as he and his team similarly came under rocket fire near the front line.
Being caught under a rain of Grad yesterday with a bunch of trench-diggers is probably one of the worst things that I've experienced since being in #Ukraine, with rockets exploding less than 50 metres away. Pure terror. Sound on #afp #ukraine #bakhmut #Donetsk pic.twitter.com/aiyBHgYXAm— Arman Soldin (@ArmanSoldin) May 1, 2023
Soldin’s last filed report from Ukraine was from a medical stabilization point serving injured Ukrainian armed forces personnel near Bakhmut.
60 sec in a 'stabilisation point' near #Bakhmut— Arman Soldin (@ArmanSoldin) May 8, 2023
Deep inside the wound, the🇺🇦 soldier's heart is beating. It is 9 pm and he has just been brought to a field hospital from the battle for Bakhmut.
The bullet went through the young man's left arm, crossed his chest..#AFP #Ukraine pic.twitter.com/N9wVDNLDxh
Soldin was in the first AFP team sent to Ukraine at the start of the invasion, arriving on February 25, 2022. With AFP since 2015, he had been living in Ukraine since Sept. 2022 and leading AFP’s video coverage with regular assignments from the front lines.
According to AFP, Arman Soldin was born in Sarajevo, Bosnia. He was one of the first Bosnians evacuated to France in early 1992 when 12 months old.
“Stories about refugees affect me,” he told AFP in a blog interview late last year, conducted by candlelight during a power cut in Kyiv.
“I come from Bosnia. I understand patriotism, but I don't know much about ultra-nationalism,” he said.
Soldin was fluent in French, English and Italian, but said that it was his Bosnian heritage that helped him on the ground in Ukraine.
“I stumble through with a bit of Bosnian. It's another Slavic language so we understand each other a bit.
“A lot of women are called Oksana, like my mother,” Soldin said at the time.
The AFP said that his colleagues believed Soldin particularly knew how to recount the lives of ordinary people caught up in the war in Ukraine.
In Kyiv, he found a tender moment between a conscripted father and his young son who had fled abroad, bonding over a strategy game online.
Last week, as captured on video, Soldin rescued an injured hedgehog from a trench and nursed it back to health. He named it Lucky.
Friends, I have no words😭— UAnimals.ENG 🇺🇦 (@UAnimalsENG) May 9, 2023
A wonderful journalist and a very kind person, @ArmanSoldin, has been killed today 💔Praying for his soul. Deepest condolences to his friends and family.
🇷🇺 has taken too many people’s and animals’ lives already… https://t.co/jMAotFu4xh
The founder of the Ukrainian animal rights organisation UAnimals, Oleksandr Todorchuk, spoke of Soldin’s “absolute kindness” when he came to the distressed animal’s aid.
UAnimals has set up a grant for volunteers and shelters that rescue hedgehogs “in memory of Soldin and his great heart,” Todorchuk wrote on Facebook.
French President Emmanuel Macron hailed the journalist’s “bravery” and the Ukrainian Ministry of Defense offered “heartfelt condolences.”
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 had lost their lives covering Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
“Journalism is fundamental to a free society,” she said in a statement.
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