Soldier Kobchenko’s photo – called The Last Sight – caught the eye of the international jury at the Tokyo International Foto Awards . The photo, depicting the Ukrainian hero, won the Gold prize in the Editorial/Conflict category.
Photographer Roberto Travan travelled to the war zone in eastern Ukraine in February 2017, in particular to the Avdiyivka PromZone, where he met Ukrainian soldiers, photographed their daily life, and was duly impressed by their courage and dedication.
Ukrainian hero Serhiy Kobchenko is portrayed in a stark black-and-white photo that catches one important, but unusual detail – a large Orthodox cross peeping out of the pocket of his combat outfit. Kobchenko said that the cross was a talisman that accompanied him in all their combat missions.
45-year-old Serhiy Kobchenk was killed during heavy enemy shelling in the Avdiyivka PromZone on April 25, 2017. He was born on June 6, 1972 in Kaniv, Cherkasy Oblast where he attended School No.4. He then attended a vocational college in Leningrad and returned to work at Zakordonenergo in Kaniv.
On February 25, 2016, he enlisted in the Armed Forces of Ukraine, and was deployed to the 72nd Brigade. The younger men in his unit, mostly aged 20-25, looked up to him as a father. Serhiy was laid to rest in his native Kaniv. He left behind his grieving daughter, Valeriya.
By decree of the president of Ukraine, Serhiy Kobchenko was posthumously awarded the Order “For Courage” (III degree) “for selfless service and personal courage in defending the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine”.
Photographer Roberto Travan recently returned to Italy from the war zone and is preparing a series of photo reports about Ukrainian fighters who stand firm against Russia’s aggression.
Shortly after the Ukrainian media announced that Robert Travan had won the Gold prize for his photo of Serhiy Kobchenko at the Tokyo International Foto Awards, Russian TV channels and so-called “DNR-LNR” media wrote that the Italian photographer had disappeared in the Ukrainian-controlled territories of the Donbas. They added that Travan had arrived in Mariupol in December 2018, last spoke to his friends on December 23, and promptly disappeared without a trace. Several versions were given by the Russian media – he was killed by the Ukrainians, he was kidnapped by a gang of drunken Ukrainian soldiers, probably because “he knew too much”.
However, the Ministry of Defence of Ukraine announced that Robert Travan had contacted them personally, informed them that he was alive and well, and had arrived home in time to celebrate Christmas and New Year’s with his family.