Slain AFP reporter's frontline act of kindness

·3-min read
AFP video journalist Arman Soldin (L) and colleagues Oleksiy Obolensky (2ndL), Anders Linderson (C) and Emmanuel Peuchot (R) take care of a baby hedgehog found in a crater
AFP video journalist Arman Soldin (L) and colleagues Oleksiy Obolensky (2ndL), Anders Linderson (C) and Emmanuel Peuchot (R) take care of a baby hedgehog found in a crater

One telling thing stands out among AFP journalist Arman Soldin's coverage of devastation in Ukraine. It was a humane act of tenderness amid the brutality of war -- the rescue of a wounded hedgehog.

Soldin was killed by rocket fire on Tuesday, just days after tweeting a touching visual record that begins with the tiny mammal being scooped from a muddy crater around the same war-battered area where he lost his life.

The Twitter thread traces the intricacies of nursing a creature that the team dubbed Lucky in a series of clips collectively viewed tens of thousands of times by Wednesday.

"He might be missing his right eye but the guy has a good nose!" Soldin tweeted on April 30, with a video of a healing Lucky sniffing around some foliage outside.

"Goodbye and good luck, Lucky!"

The images offer light relief on a Twitter feed crowded with images that documented Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the destruction and the suffering that has followed.

Lucky's story begins with one of Soldin's team members, in body armour and a helmet, stepping into a crater to gather the hedgehog while someone off-camera asks: "You're sure he's alive?" as shelling echoes in the distance.

"Chasiv Yar is proper hell these days. We found an ammunition box... recreated some sort of grass environment and took him to the back of our car," Soldin tweeted, noting they decided to take Lucky with them.

- 'There's a war going on' -

What followed was a learning process in how to nurse a hedgehog back to health.

The next images show the exhausted creature sleeping in an improvised shelter outside the team's base -– though not for long.

"We couldn't stand to leave him outside so obviously very soon we put him inside and started googling what baby hedgehogs need and eat -- a little stop by the garden was needed to find some insects and worms!" Soldin tweeted.

Giving water to the dehydrated animal required some ingenuity –- the team used parts from their various medical kits to make a feeding bottle.

"And it ... WORKED! I AM OFFICIALLY A DAD!," the 32-year-old wrote.

Images follow of Lucky sleeping -- and sleeping some more -- as Soldin reports that he had consulted experts for help on how to care for the hedgehog.

Lucky "is feeeeeling much better now! he's already left his little bed and is going round sniffing for food and trying to hide wherever he sees an opening!"

Subsequent videos show Lucky ambling around the house and garden, with the last image in the thread showing him outside and sniffing among some plants.

His work prompted a Ukrainian hedgehog shelter to announce that it was renaming itself to include Soldin's name.

The journalist, who covered the war from its outbreak and produced a stream of videos from its most dangerous spots, was clear though that the bigger picture had not changed despite this little victory.

"Amid this cute story don't forget there is a bloody war going on and millions of people are displaced -- help by donating to NGOs," he tweeted.