'I had to run for my life,' says Fanshawe College instructor, who was in Kyiv
A Fanshawe College professor, who was in Kyiv during the uprising, says he was attacked by police while filming.
Rich Hitchens was documenting the uprising that led to the departure of Ukraine’s former president.
Hitchens had his cellphone video camera on when he was attacked and landed on the ground.
The professor, who teaches in the School of Language and Liberal Studies, arrived in Kyiv with a plan to catch a train to visit family in Belarus.
He went to the city’s core and was caught in the uprising.
“In retrospect, perhaps this was foolish, but I wanted the best video footage that I could get, so, I moved right to the front … where the rock throwers were," he said.
As an educator and founder of Canadian Centre for Genocide Education, he decided to stay and see what was happening around him. He even stayed as tear gas was fired and then stun grenades.
He became part of history as police rushed the crowd.
“But at that moment, when the police broke through, I understood that I had to run for my life, that they would not distinguish between me, the 85-year-old woman or the person that had thrown the Molotov cocktail so I was a full participant at that point.”
Hitchens was clubbed on the shoulder and then on the hands.
"It split open my hand and the blood went on my jacket, and that's when I said to the police, ‘I'm a Canadian.’ And I have to say, fortunately he stopped.
Hitchens, who speaks Russian, would not be able to leave for Belarus until two days later, and returned to Ukraine for three days at the end of his trip.
He says he sides with those fighting for Ukraine to have closer ties to the west and he's hopeful the Russia invasion in Crimea will not hamper a return trip he has planned for this summer.
“I believe that ultimately they will succeed and I have to believe that because I saw real courage and real commitment and real heroes when I was there."