Anastasia Vlasova


Documenting Ukraine Grants

Breaking Out from the "Brotherly" Embrace

“We don’t have an apartment now. Our block was set on fire by a missile, so we’re now homeless people. We don’t have a school anymore because it was bombed, and so we don’t have a place of work,” said Viktor Shulik, a former headteacher from Popasna, Luhansk area. “We took up arms because, well, what else can we do?”
My project is about people from the Donetsk and Luhansk areas who fight for Ukraine, either as soldiers, volunteers or as part of the local self-defense forces.
The stigma of people from Donbas being pro-Russian is still present, and the existence of people like Viktor is underrepresented. While many people with pro-Russian views remain, a lot has changed, and it is a mistake to assume those with pro-Russian views are the majority.
I have been documenting the Russian war against Ukraine since its start in 2014. In my reporting, I always focus on people and go where they and the chance take me. Thus, I developed many acquaintances and good friends with a pro-Ukrainian position and those whose views changed over the years. Most of these people are actively involved in the war or its aftermath.
In this project, I want to highlight the participation of Donbas residents in the joint fight against Russia, which demonstrates that many people from these territories are its supporters.

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