Gray Zone

Valery Melnikov

2017 - Ongoing

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. Four 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.

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  • Front-line village of Ozerianovka. Donetsk region , Ukraine

  • Zinaida Pavlova, 76 is the resident of the frontline village of Kominternovo of the Donetsk region , Ukraine

  • The damaged monument to Soviet politician Sergei Kirov.
    Gorlovka, Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • . A local resident looks at a hole from a shell in the wall in the village of Donetskyi, Lugansk region

  • Alexander Zemlyanko, 63 years old. Lives alone. The house was badly damaged during the shelling.
    Village of Kominternovo, Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • Men near the village of Zolotoe in the Luhansk region, Ukraine

  • Destroyed tank. Aftermath of an attack on the village of Kominternovo, Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • . Nina Romanovna, 73 years old. Lives alone. Veseloe village. Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • . A man repairs a power line destroyed by shelling in the village of Donetskyi, Lugansk region.

  • Post office destroyed by shelling. Luhansk region, Ukraine

  • Abandoned house,Village of Kominternovo. Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • Alexander Vasilyev, 62 years old and his dog.
    He is the one of the last inhabitants of the frontline village of Novomaryevka, Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • The Iversky Monastery destroyed by shelling on the outskirts of Donetsk, Ukraine

  • . A child in a house near the front line. Outskirts of Donetsk. Ukraine

  • A local resident collects coal from a mine dump in Donetsk, Ukraine

  • One of the last residents of the frontline village of Shakhty 6/7, Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • Eva Melnichuk, 77 years old. She buried her husband a year ago and she lives alone. She lived in Sakhanka for 30 years. Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • Alexandra Chubarova,(70) holds the hand of her paralyzed husband, Peter Chubarov, (77).
    They are one of the last inhabitants of the frontline village of Novomaryevka. Donetsk region, Ukraine

  • Abandoned water well. The Yasnoye settlement in the Donetsk Region, Ukraine

  • Vasily Fesko, 73 years old is completely blind, the one of last inhabitants of the frontline village of Sakhanka. Sakhanka is a village on the south of Donetsk region, which is located on the front line. Before the conflict in Donbass, more than a thousand people lived here and now the population has declined dramatically. Donnas region, Ukraine