Bournemouth University students confronted by gunman in Ukraine chaos

Bournemouth University students confronted by gunman in Ukraine chaos

Bournemouth University students confronted by gunman in Ukraine chaos

First published in News

A BOURNEMOUTH University student was confronted by a gunman after getting caught up in the chaos engulfing Ukraine.

Aspiring documentary maker Edward Lawrence, 19, travelled to Ukraine last week with fellow-student Anna Pujol-Mazzini, 18, seeking first-hand experience of a conflict zone.

The pair started off in Kiev where they spoke with pro-European protestors in Independent Square, but were later confronted on a bus while travelling through the pro-Russian east of the country.

Mr Lawrence, from Beaminster, said they were stopped at a militia-held checkpoint near Sloviansk when a man with a balaclava, pistol and machete tied to his leg got on.

“Sloviansk is a no-go area for westerners,” he said.

“We realised there was quite a large risk we would get stopped and detained. It was terrifying but I felt as if it had to be done.

“Maybe it was slightly stupid.”

The checkpoint guard was asking for passports and approached Mr Lawrence and his friend, but he feigned being asleep until he left and the bus continued on to Kramatorsk.

“I thought I was going to die at that point. Anna thought I was a gonner. It was easily the scariest experience of my life but the most exciting too,” he said.

The pair, who were warned not to travel to the Ukraine by the university, had made safety plans including regular check-in calls back home. Mr Lawrence said in Kiev there was a marked contrast between the ‘business as usual’ residents and the Euromaidan (pro-European) protestors and their camps.

“It's such a strong contrast, people doing their shopping and there's a tank there,” he said.

Although he would not encourage others to do what they did, he said the experience had only strengthened his resolve to document conflict as a profession.

“All it's done is make me want to do this even more,” he said.

Comments (9)

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9:01am Wed 7 May 14

Townee says...

What would have happened if they had been killed? Their families would be crying to our government to do this or that. They went to a place where they were told not to go so be it on their own heads. I'm sure they could have found another story to do that would not have put them in danger.
What would have happened if they had been killed? Their families would be crying to our government to do this or that. They went to a place where they were told not to go so be it on their own heads. I'm sure they could have found another story to do that would not have put them in danger. Townee
  • Score: 5

9:11am Wed 7 May 14

scrumpyjack says...

Drama? Drama Queen.

Exactly how many 'Europeans' have been killed in the conflict?
Drama? Drama Queen. Exactly how many 'Europeans' have been killed in the conflict? scrumpyjack
  • Score: -8

9:16am Wed 7 May 14

uberbloke says...

Students "...seeking first-hand experience of a conflict zone" have "..first-hand experience of a conflict zone"
Students "...seeking first-hand experience of a conflict zone" have "..first-hand experience of a conflict zone" uberbloke
  • Score: 13

10:02am Wed 7 May 14

canfordcherry says...

Could have gone horribly wrong, have there been any FO warnings not to go there? If not it is up to the individuals alone as to their actions.
Where next, a weekend break in Afghanistan?
Could have gone horribly wrong, have there been any FO warnings not to go there? If not it is up to the individuals alone as to their actions. Where next, a weekend break in Afghanistan? canfordcherry
  • Score: 3

10:17am Wed 7 May 14

pete woodley says...

Who paid for the trip,when the students reckon they are broke.
Who paid for the trip,when the students reckon they are broke. pete woodley
  • Score: 0

10:20am Wed 7 May 14

The Liberal says...

Mind you, it was probably less dangerous than Bournemouth town centre on a Saturday night.
Mind you, it was probably less dangerous than Bournemouth town centre on a Saturday night. The Liberal
  • Score: 5

11:23am Wed 7 May 14

H2o-hara says...

Maybe it was a slightly stupid thing to do . ....Erm , yes !
Maybe it was a slightly stupid thing to do . ....Erm , yes ! H2o-hara
  • Score: 6

12:10pm Wed 7 May 14

hadvar says...

This is fine, they can go where they want, and do what they want when they get there. However, if they go places against the F.C.O advice, as far as I'm concerned, if something goes wrong, they are on their own. Don't start bleating for help, cos you've made titanically stupid choices. If you make yourself look heroic in the local rag, good on ya. Hope you are equally heroic when you get into trouble.
This is fine, they can go where they want, and do what they want when they get there. However, if they go places against the F.C.O advice, as far as I'm concerned, if something goes wrong, they are on their own. Don't start bleating for help, cos you've made titanically stupid choices. If you make yourself look heroic in the local rag, good on ya. Hope you are equally heroic when you get into trouble. hadvar
  • Score: 4

2:58pm Wed 7 May 14

High Treason says...

“Maybe it was slightly stupid.”

Only maybe?
“Maybe it was slightly stupid.” Only maybe? High Treason
  • Score: 3

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