Luhansk.Donetsk and Luhansk are two self-proclaimed, pro-Russian ‘People’s Republics’ in the Donbass region in easternmost Ukraine. A 2001 government census showed that 74.9 percent of the population in the Donetsk region and 68.8 percent of the Luhansk region have Russian as a mother tongue. In April 2014, a month after Russian forces had entered Crimea in southern Ukraine, pro-Russian separatists seized parts of Donetsk and Luhansk. The Ukrainian government launched a military operation in response, and over the course of the summer the conflict escalated into full-scale hostilities. In August 2014 (and again in February 2015) Russian forces gave active support in training and equipment to the rebels. A ceasefire was signed in September 2014, but was repeatedly violated before breaking down completely.The photographer first went to Luhansk in the early summer of 2014, and witnessed conditions change as hostilities intensified. He believes that the most important side to any conflict is the third one: that of the ordinary people caught up in the violence. Civilians in Luhansk and Donetsk had to survive often without running water or electricity, under repeated shelling, experiencing the destruction of their homes and the deaths of friends and relatives.
"I have been documenting the war in Donbass since it started and during six years made over ten trips to the war zone, where I witnessed the full extent of the humanitarian disaster.
The project consists of three big parts that reveal different sides of this war, but each being a facet of the same tragedy"
Book order http://valerymelnikov.com/book-dark-days-3/
Photographer: Valery Melnikov
Design: Konstantin Eremenko
Photoeditor: Andrei Polikanov
Text: Valery Melnikov
Text editor / translation into English: Olga Bubich
Editor / proofreader: Tatiana Timakova
English proofreader: Galina Shkumat
Colour correction: Vladimir Semenkov
Print management: Agata Chachko
© Valery Melnikov / Rossiya Segodnya, photographs, 2020
© Konstantin Eremenko, design, 2020