PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The State Department has updated its warning, urging U.S. citizens to avoid all travel to Crimea and eastern regions of Ukraine.

The danger in that part of the world is something an award-winning film crew from Pittsburgh knows all too well after they were attacked in a Ukrainian town last weekend.

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“Red flag, communist flag, communist flag,” a translator described a flag flying over the town square.

Last Saturday, a local documentary crew of six – based in Downtown Pittsburgh – was capturing the mood of a pro-Russia rally as it wound down in the Ukrainian town of Mariupol.

The woman, referring to the crew, speaks with the translator:

Woman: “Make sure they tell the truth.”

Translator: “They’ll tell the truth. They’re not interested in our politics.”

Woman: “What country are they from?”

Translator: “They’re American guys.”

Within minutes those “American guys” from Pittsburgh were told to get out, running for their lives.

That is how people can die when nationalistic feelings reach a fever pitch.

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In Ukraine, for four days, the documentary crew was there to tell the story of a man named Gennadiy, who cares for children at an orphanage.

But the crew quickly became targets – as a crowd became a mob – and insults escalated into kicking, punching and tear gas.

Seeking safety in their van, windows started shattering. Their cameras kept rolling.

Some of the video of the attack was recorded by a Ukrainian bystander and posted on YouTube.

A young Ukrainian trying to protect the crew was beaten.

Pulling away, their driver crashed into a truck, but finally was able to get clear.

Gunfire took out the van’s tires, but eventually made it to a police station, all safe. After 15 hours there and at the airport, they boarded the first flight home.

The crew made it back to Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

The shaken members of the crew says it’s too soon for them to have enough perspective to talk about what happened to them; but they wanted to make one thing very clear – that it was a moment in time – and not a real reflection of the Ukrainian people.

Locals With Ties To Ukraine React To Ongoing Conflict (3/3/14)
More Reports by Mary Robb Jackson

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