At tribute to AFP reporter in Kyiv, RSF announces eighth complaint since start of war

During an event that Agence France-Presse organised on 15 May in the Ukrainian capital to pay tribute to its video coordinator, Arman Soldin, killed by rocket fire on 9 May near Bakhmut, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) announced that it is about to file its eighth complaint about Russian war crimes against journalists in Ukraine with the Ukrainian prosecutor-general’s office. 

RSF’s eighth complaint since the start of the war, which will be handed in on 16 May, will include Arman Soldin’s death and that of Ukrainian journalist Bohdan Bitik on 26 April in Kherson.

Friends and colleagues of Soldin attended the moving tribute in Kyiv, which included the screening of a video that showed Soldin laughingly demonstrating his love of animals, his love of football and, of course, his passion for reporting.

“He lost his life to inform the world of what is happening in Ukraine,” AFP president Fabrice Fries said. “He was a real ray of sunshine for his colleagues, AFP news director Phil Chetwynd added. After a minute’s silence for Soldin, Ukrainian culture minister Oleksandr Tkachenko, who also attended the event at the headquarters of the Ukrainian news agency Ukrinform, praised the “great brotherhood of foreign journalists” in Ukraine.

During the event, RSF secretary-general Christophe Deloire said he shared the pride and sadness of the media community and AFP family. “There is no age for entering the journalists’ pantheon but clearly Arman was too young,” he said. Referring to all the journalists killed every year, both in countries at war and countries at peace, Deloire added: “There are too many reporters in this pantheon, and especially too many young reporters.”

RSF’s eighth complaint, which will be sent to the International Criminal Court prosecutor as well as handed in at the Ukrainian prosecutor-general’s office, contains specific testimony gathered by RSF to support the allegations of war crimes against journalists in Ukraine.

In addition to Soldin’s case, this complaint refers to the deliberate attack on 26 April in which Bohdan Bitik was killed and Corrado Zunino, an Italian reporter for the La Repubblica newspaper, was injured. It also refers to the arbitrary detention and enforced disappearance of three Ukrainian journalists, including Dmytro Khyliuk, and to bombardments of civilians in which several Ukrainian and foreign media crews were caught.

The complaint names 14 journalists who were the victims of attacks that could be regarded as war crimes. And it refers to attacks on media infrastructure including TV towers and the premises of Ukraine’s public television broadcaster.

As well as the eight complaints filed with the International Criminal Court and Ukrainian prosecutor-general’s office since the start of the war, RSF has also filed two criminal complaints in France. In all, RSF has documented 53 events that could be classified as war crimes, in which a total of 121 journalists have been victims, and the targeting of 14 TV towers and media infrastructure.

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