Citizens and the state in the government-controlled territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions

Problems, challenges and visions of the future


The demarcation line (the line of contact) and the ‘grey zone’ between the government-controlled and uncontrolled territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions separates the parties to the conflict in the east of Ukraine. The areas controlled by the Ukrainian authorities and bordering the ‘grey zone’ are very politically sensitive, highly militarised, and fall under a special governance regime that is different from the rest of the country.

In the absence of a comprehensive political settlement and amid uncertain prospects, it is unclear how long this situation will remain. It is highly likely that over the next few years, Ukrainians in areas adjacent to the contact line will live under very particular and unusual governance structures, and in varying degrees of danger. These vulnerable areas are therefore the focus of this study.

The study aimed to identify the main concerns, views, and practical ideas of Ukrainian citizens living in key vulnerable cities in government-controlled territories near the line of contact, possible areas for improving the relationship between citizens and the government, and practical local measures needed to translate these ideas into reality.

The potential and readiness for a dialogue between civil society and local authorities, as well as within communities, was also assessed. The main efforts and problems faced by authorities in the formation and implementation of policies in the government-controlled territories of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have also been analysed.

The study was conducted by the Ukrainian Center for Independent Political Research (UCIPR) with the assistance of International Alert, and funding from the European Union.