Valery Melnikov

Photographer
    
Gray Zone
Location: Moscow, Russia
Nationality: Russian
Biography: Born in Nevinnomyssk, Valery Melnikov studied journalism in Stavropol, Russia. His photographic career began when he started to work for The North Caucasus newspaper. For ten years he was a staff photographer for Kommersant publishing house. He... MORE
Public Story
Gray Zone
Copyright Valery Melnikov 2022
Updated Jan 2022
Topics Civil Rights, Conflict, Documentary, Donbass, Editorial, Journalism, Personal Projects, Photography, Photojournalism, Ukraine, War, War and its effects
First time I visited the Donbass region was at the beginning of summer of 2014, right at the beginning of the military conflict. Nobody knew at that time how long this conflict would last, and how difficult and painful the consequences of this conflict would be.
People of Donbass truly hoped the war would end quickly, and peace would come back to their long-suffering land. Five years went by. The active phase of the conflict is over, but there is no peace yet. With this war, hearts of people were filled with uncertainty, despair, and complete luck of hope. Along the contact line of the fighting sides, so called «Gray Zone» has been created. This is a conditional name for the territories without a specific status, with no official government or law enforcement. There are no operational hospitals or schools there, and there is no work. People’s lives are in constant danger because of the fighting. This protracted long lasting conflict and the foggy future turned the entire Donbass region into the territory of the Gray Zone. Zones without any clear boundaries in space and time. The Gray Zone is not only a territory, a piece of land, it is a sensation of a person completely immersed in the darkness of the unknown in the face of war. This is the vital state of existential loneliness of a person who has lost all the hope…
The ongoing project «Gray Zone» is a new stage of my work in Donbass region.

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