On Thursday, France posthumously awarded the Legion of Honor to AFP video journalist Arman Soldin, who was killed while working in Ukraine.
Soldin, AFP’s video coordinator in Ukraine, was killed in a rocket attack in eastern Ukraine on May 9, more than a year after the Russian invasion began. He is 32 years old.
His death sparked outpourings of sympathy and mourning around the world.
French President Emmanuel Macron praised Soldin’s “bravery” in a letter to AFP in May.
“Through his strength of character, his journey, and his drive, Aman Soldin embodies the passion of an editorial staff—a passion to convey truth, tell stories, and gather testimony. It is a passion for a cause: to provide responsibility for information,” he said.
According to a presidential decree issued on Thursday, Soldin was made a Knight of the Legion of Honor effective June 28, 2023.
“We are deeply moved by Oman’s award,” said Phil Chetwynd, AFP’s global news director. “It pays tribute to his outstanding journalism and helps preserve his memory.”
Soldin, a French national born in Sarajevo, said he enjoys telling stories of people displaced by fighting that stem from his family’s experience fleeing the conflict.
He fled fighting in Bosnia with his family as an infant and was flown to France on a humanitarian flight on 25 February.
Soldin, who speaks French, English and Italian, studied in London, Lyon and Sarajevo before landing an internship at AFP’s Rome bureau in 2015.
In the same year, he was employed by AFP in London and since 2019 has been a British sports reporter for the French premium TV channel Canal+.
He volunteered to be part of the first AFP team sent to Ukraine after Italy covered the early months of Europe’s Covid-19 outbreak.
praised for his empathy
Praised for his compassion, courage and professionalism, Sordin’s last few stories have portrayed both the intensity of the fighting in Ukraine and the death threats faced by people outside the headlines.
In bomb-torn Siversk, he followed Oleksandr. A former welder, Oleksandr became one of the unsung heroes of the war by riding his moped to deliver bread to isolated elderly people near the front lines.
In Donbass, he visited a field hospital that provided first aid to wounded Ukrainian soldiers at night.
Soldin joined a contingent of AFP reporters who joined Ukrainian soldiers in an ambush near the besieged city of Bakhmut, which was at the center of the fighting and was being targeted daily by Russian forces.
On 9 May, as they were walking back to their car near the village of Chasiv Yar, they were hit by Grad rockets. The rest of the AFP team was unharmed.
AFP correspondent Emmanuel Peuchot said Soldin died “with a camera in his hand”.
French prosecutors announced they had opened a war crimes investigation into the circumstances of his death.
According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least 17 journalists and media workers have been killed in Ukraine since Russia invaded it on February 24, 2022.