PARIS (AP) — Colleagues of Arman Soldin, the Agence France-Presse journalist slain in Ukraine, gathered solemnly at the press agency’s Paris headquarters on Wednesday, a day after his death, to remember the 32-year old.
A widely broadcast photo of Soldin, pictured in protective gear and smiling broadly with a cat on his shoulder, has plucked at the heartstrings of the French nation.
“Arman was so enthusiastic, so energetic, so alive that it seems unreal to be here and talk about it this morning,” said Juliette Hollier-Larousse, the agency’s deputy news director.
Soldin, who was working as the Ukraine video coordinator, was killed in a Grad rocket attack near the eastern Ukrainian city of Bakhmut. He was with a team of AFP journalists traveling with Ukrainian soldiers when the group came under fire. The rest of the team escaped uninjured.
Tributes have come from far and wide for the Sarajevo-born journalist, who lived for many years in France. Denis Becirovic, a member of the Bosnian presidency, called him “a journalist dedicated to his profession” who “since the beginning of Russian aggression on Ukraine bravely reported to the public about events from this country.”
Becirovic also called Arman’s death “a painful reminder to dangers posed to journalists and media workers in areas caught up in war.”
In Paris, French Foreign Minister Catherine Colonna paid a brief but emotional tribute to Soldin while speaking to reporters Wednesday.
“I remember him…” she said, pausing before continuing. “I don’t want to say things that are too personal, but he notably covered my last visit to Kyiv. I want to pay homage not only to his courage, but to the work that you do, which is indispensable for us to know the reality of the facts, for us to know the truth of what is happening in Ukraine and elsewhere.”
Max Blain, spokesman for U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, paid tribute to Soldin’s work in Ukraine.
“Journalism continues to shine a light in the darkness of this war and Arman’s work was vital to that. Any death in this needless invasion is tragic and our thoughts remain with all those who have lost loved ones during this conflict,” he said.
In May 2022, French journalist Frederic Leclerc-Imhoff, who was working in Ukraine for BFM-TV, was killed near Sievierodonetsk in the east.