Arman Soldin, a Bosnian French video journalist with the French news agency Agence France-Presse, was killed in a rocket attack on May 9, 2023, near the Ukrainian city of Chasiv Yar while working alongside four AFP journalists, according to multiple news reports and Twitter posts by AFP.
The AFP team came under fire by Grad rockets while with a group of Ukrainian soldiers and Soldin was killed at about 4:30 p.m. while lying on the ground trying to protect himself, according to media reports. On May 1, he had posted on Twitter that “being caught under a rain of Grad [rockets]” was “one of the worst things that I’ve experienced since being in Ukraine.” The four journalists with him were uninjured.
CPJ was not able to immediately confirm the source of the fire. Chasiv Yar is located near the frontline city of Bakhmut and was regularly shelled by Russian forces at the time, according to media reports.
In a statement, AFP CEO Fabrice Fries said Soldin’s death was “a terrible reminder of the risks and dangers faced by journalists every day covering the conflict in Ukraine.”
Soldin, 32, was one of the first AFP correspondents to enter Ukraine after the Russian invasion. He had worked with AFP since 2015 and became the agency’s Ukraine video coordinator in September 2022.
He has been living in Ukraine since then, “leading the team’s coverage and traveling regularly to the front lines in the east and south,” the statement said. Soldin worked exclusively with AFP in Ukraine as a staff journalist, an AFP representative told CPJ via email.
“Arman’s brilliant work encapsulated everything that has made us so proud of AFP’s journalism in Ukraine,” AFP Global News Director Phil Chetwynd said in a statement reviewed by CPJ. “He was courageous, creative, and tenacious. He was, above all, an excellent journalist who was totally committed to the story.”
A representative with French broadcaster Canal + told CPJ via messaging app that Soldin had worked as a freelance journalist for the outlet since 2019, covering sports news outside of Ukraine. His last report was from April 15.
“He went back to Ukraine right after, and was supposed to come back on May 26,” the representative said. “The football editorial team is in shock.”
“With great courage, from the very first hours of the conflict he was at the front to establish the facts. To inform us,” French President Emmanuel Macron wrote on Twitter.
On May 10, the French anti-terrorist prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into alleged war crimes related to Soldin’s killing, media reported.
On May 22, the Ukrainian general prosecutor’s office emailed a statement to CPJ stating that a pretrial investigation into Soldin’s killing had been opened under Part 2 of Article 438 of the Ukrainian criminal code, which pertains to the “violation of the laws and customs of war.”
The investigation was being conducted under the supervision of the Donetsk regional prosecutor’s office, and authorities were taking “all necessary and possible measures aimed at establishing all the circumstances of the crime and the persons involved,” the statement said.
CPJ emailed the Russian and Ukrainian ministries of defense for comment but did not receive any replies.