- Sputnik International, 1920, 10.04.2022
Donbass. Genocide. 2014-2022
This special project was launched to shed light on what has happened in Donbass over the past eight years, with the aim to show not only episodes of crimes by the Kiev regime against the civilian population, but also to explore the roots of the disaster occurring in the region.

Genocide of Donbass’ Civilian Population: Evidence From the Lens of Photojournalist Valery Melnikov

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Sputnik’s photojournalists have travelled to Donbass extensively, snapping hundreds of pieces of photographic evidence of war crimes against the civilian population of the region, and taking thousands of shots of the terrible consequences of war. Valery Melnikov is one of them. This is how he saw the eight-year war in Donbass.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA woman near a destroyed house in the village of Sakhanka, situated in the southern Donetsk People’s Republic on the line of contact between DPR militia and Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian forces have levelled thousands of homes and apartment buildings in Donbass through artillery and air strikes over the past eight years. The people who inhabited them have been left with nothing.
A woman near a destroyed house in the village of Sakhanka, situated in the southern Donetsk People’s Republic on the line of contact between DPR militia and Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian forces have levelled thousands of homes and apartment buildings in Donbass through artillery and air strikes over the past eight years. The people who inhabited them have been left with nothing. - Sputnik International
1/19
A woman near a destroyed house in the village of Sakhanka, situated in the southern Donetsk People’s Republic on the line of contact between DPR militia and Ukrainian forces. Ukrainian forces have levelled thousands of homes and apartment buildings in Donbass through artillery and air strikes over the past eight years. The people who inhabited them have been left with nothing.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov62-year-old Donbass resident Alexander Vasilyev with his pet pooch. Vasilyev is one of the last residents remaining in the village of Novomaryevka, DPR, which also found itself on the line of contact. This photo is from Valery Melnikov’s Grey Zone series, which won the grand prize at Italy’s Intarget Photolux Award photo contest in 2019.
62-year-old Donbass resident Alexander Vasilyev with his pet pooch. Vasilyev is one of the last residents remaining in the village of Novomaryevka, DPR, which also found itself on the line of contact. This photo is from Valery Melnikov’s Grey Zone series, which won the grand prize at Italy’s Intarget Photolux Award photo contest in 2019. - Sputnik International
2/19
62-year-old Donbass resident Alexander Vasilyev with his pet pooch. Vasilyev is one of the last residents remaining in the village of Novomaryevka, DPR, which also found itself on the line of contact. This photo is from Valery Melnikov’s Grey Zone series, which won the grand prize at Italy’s Intarget Photolux Award photo contest in 2019.
© Sputnik / Valeriy MelnikovIn this photo, 70-year-old Alexandra Chubarova holds the hand of her paralysed husband, 77-year-old Pyotr Chubarov. Alexandra and Petr are residents Novomaryevka. This photo is also from Valery Melnikov’s Grey Zone series. People who for one reason or another were unable to evacuate have also had to live with the threat of constant shelling. The paralysed, the bedridden, people who have suffered strokes, and those who cannot provide for themselves and live without outside help.
In this photo, 70-year-old Alexandra Chubarova holds the hand of her paralysed husband, 77-year-old Pyotr Chubarov. Alexandra and Petr are residents Novomaryevka. This photo is also from Valery Melnikov’s Grey Zone series. People who for one reason or another were unable to evacuate have also had to live with the threat of constant shelling. The paralysed, the bedridden, people who have suffered strokes, and those who cannot provide for themselves and live without outside help. - Sputnik International
3/19
In this photo, 70-year-old Alexandra Chubarova holds the hand of her paralysed husband, 77-year-old Pyotr Chubarov. Alexandra and Petr are residents Novomaryevka. This photo is also from Valery Melnikov’s Grey Zone series. People who for one reason or another were unable to evacuate have also had to live with the threat of constant shelling. The paralysed, the bedridden, people who have suffered strokes, and those who cannot provide for themselves and live without outside help.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankPhoto shows a resident in his home in the Novoazovsk district of Donetsk. Desperation, despair, hopelessness, all of this came into the lives of the civilian population of Donbass along with shells when Kiev began its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the region in 2014.
Photo shows a resident in his home in the Novoazovsk district of Donetsk. Desperation, despair, hopelessness, all of this came into the lives of the civilian population of Donbass along with shells when Kiev began its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the region in 2014. - Sputnik International
4/19
Photo shows a resident in his home in the Novoazovsk district of Donetsk. Desperation, despair, hopelessness, all of this came into the lives of the civilian population of Donbass along with shells when Kiev began its so-called “anti-terrorist operation” in the region in 2014.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA woman in her home in the village of Sakhanka, DPR. Over half of the village’s pre-war population of about 1,000 left after the conflict began. Bedridden lonely elderly people could only hope for help from neighbours, but due to the shelling, such help has not always arrived in time.
A woman in her home in the village of Sakhanka, DPR. Over half of the village’s pre-war population of about 1,000 left after the conflict began. Bedridden lonely elderly people could only hope for help from neighbours, but due to the shelling, such help has not always arrived in time. - Sputnik International
5/19
A woman in her home in the village of Sakhanka, DPR. Over half of the village’s pre-war population of about 1,000 left after the conflict began. Bedridden lonely elderly people could only hope for help from neighbours, but due to the shelling, such help has not always arrived in time.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankIn this photo, a man is in a house in the village of Sakhanka. Sakhanka’s residents have faced constant Ukrainian shelling. On 7 May 2020, five civilians, including two teenagers – a girl with a heart condition and a teenage boy with broken legs and shrapnel wounds, were injured. The girl’s mother was also wounded.
In this photo, a man is in a house in the village of Sakhanka. Sakhanka’s residents have faced constant Ukrainian shelling. On 7 May 2020, five civilians, including two teenagers – a girl with a heart condition and a teenage boy with broken legs and shrapnel wounds, were injured. The girl’s mother was also wounded. - Sputnik International
6/19
In this photo, a man is in a house in the village of Sakhanka. Sakhanka’s residents have faced constant Ukrainian shelling. On 7 May 2020, five civilians, including two teenagers – a girl with a heart condition and a teenage boy with broken legs and shrapnel wounds, were injured. The girl’s mother was also wounded.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA resident in his flat in the Kievsky district of Donetsk.
A resident in his flat in the Kievsky district of Donetsk. - Sputnik International
7/19
A resident in his flat in the Kievsky district of Donetsk.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA woman and her son hide in the basement of a house in Gorlovka, 2016. The DPR city of Gorlovka has seen heavy fighting since July 2014 between local militias and the Ukrainian Army. The city has been on the line of fire throughout the war.
A woman and her son hide in the basement of a house in Gorlovka, 2016. The DPR city of Gorlovka has seen heavy fighting since July 2014 between local militias and the Ukrainian Army. The city has been on the line of fire throughout the war.  - Sputnik International
8/19
A woman and her son hide in the basement of a house in Gorlovka, 2016. The DPR city of Gorlovka has seen heavy fighting since July 2014 between local militias and the Ukrainian Army. The city has been on the line of fire throughout the war.
© Sputnik / Valeriy MelnikovA woman holds up an icon of the Mother of God while waiting for Ukrainian forces to stop the shelling of the village of Vesyeloe in the Donetsk People’s Republic, 2015. Praying in the darkness in basements and waiting for shelling to stop – this is often all that the elderly, women and children can do.
A woman holds up an icon of the Mother of God while waiting for Ukrainian forces to stop the shelling of the village of Vesyeloe in the Donetsk People’s Republic, 2015. Praying in the darkness in basements and waiting for shelling to stop – this is often all that the elderly, women and children can do. - Sputnik International
9/19
A woman holds up an icon of the Mother of God while waiting for Ukrainian forces to stop the shelling of the village of Vesyeloe in the Donetsk People’s Republic, 2015. Praying in the darkness in basements and waiting for shelling to stop – this is often all that the elderly, women and children can do.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA ballerina during a rehearsal of Swan Lake at the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, 2015. Donetsk’s Opera and Ballet Theatre did not stop its work even during the most difficult and darkest days of the conflict. It is in the nature of many locals to “live in spite of” – to remain unbroken and unbowed in the face of the most terrible blows.
A ballerina during a rehearsal of Swan Lake at the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, 2015. Donetsk’s Opera and Ballet Theatre did not stop its work even during the most difficult and darkest days of the conflict. It is in the nature of many locals to “live in spite of” – to remain unbroken and unbowed in the face of the most terrible blows. - Sputnik International
10/19
A ballerina during a rehearsal of Swan Lake at the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre, 2015. Donetsk’s Opera and Ballet Theatre did not stop its work even during the most difficult and darkest days of the conflict. It is in the nature of many locals to “live in spite of” – to remain unbroken and unbowed in the face of the most terrible blows.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA girl at a school desk in the village of Sakhanka. Some of Donbass’ children can still recall a peaceful life, but the majority no longer know what it’s like to live when someone isn’t shooting, when they don’t have to take cover from incoming bombs and bullets. Frontline villages have been emptied. Everyone who could leave has gone, and those who remain living on their land are forced to survive as best they can.
A girl at a school desk in the village of Sakhanka. Some of Donbass’ children can still recall a peaceful life, but the majority no longer know what it’s like to live when someone isn’t shooting, when they don’t have to take cover from incoming bombs and bullets. Frontline villages have been emptied. Everyone who could leave has gone, and those who remain living on their land are forced to survive as best they can. - Sputnik International
11/19
A girl at a school desk in the village of Sakhanka. Some of Donbass’ children can still recall a peaceful life, but the majority no longer know what it’s like to live when someone isn’t shooting, when they don’t have to take cover from incoming bombs and bullets. Frontline villages have been emptied. Everyone who could leave has gone, and those who remain living on their land are forced to survive as best they can.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA teenager sits in a shelter in the Shakhty settlement, DPR.
A teenager sits in a shelter in the Shakhty settlement, DPR.  - Sputnik International
12/19
A teenager sits in a shelter in the Shakhty settlement, DPR.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA girl in a school in the village of Sakhanka. Next to her are portraits of teachers and graduates. Signs marked “BOMB SHELTER”, accompanied by bright arrows, are plastered throughout the school. Children in Donbass schools have learned to distinguish the sound of incoming shells, and know well where the nearest bomb shelter is.
A girl in a school in the village of Sakhanka. Next to her are portraits of teachers and graduates. Signs marked “BOMB SHELTER”, accompanied by bright arrows, are plastered throughout the school. Children in Donbass schools have learned to distinguish the sound of incoming shells, and know well where the nearest bomb shelter is.  - Sputnik International
13/19
A girl in a school in the village of Sakhanka. Next to her are portraits of teachers and graduates. Signs marked “BOMB SHELTER”, accompanied by bright arrows, are plastered throughout the school. Children in Donbass schools have learned to distinguish the sound of incoming shells, and know well where the nearest bomb shelter is.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA woman shows a fragment of a mortar projectile in the village of Zaytsevo, Donetsk People’s Republic. Last month, the DPR’s Ministry of Emergency Situations declared that demining Donbass would take decades.
A woman shows a fragment of a mortar projectile in the village of Zaytsevo, Donetsk People’s Republic. Last month, the DPR’s Ministry of Emergency Situations declared that demining Donbass would take decades. - Sputnik International
14/19
A woman shows a fragment of a mortar projectile in the village of Zaytsevo, Donetsk People’s Republic. Last month, the DPR’s Ministry of Emergency Situations declared that demining Donbass would take decades.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankChildren play with spent munitions in Gorlovka. Children and war are concepts which shouldn’t mix, but this isn’t the case in Donbass. In eight years of war, a generation of boys has grown up here, for whom playing with the remnants of shells is a common hobby. Dozens of children have been injured, disabled, or killed in explosions of mortar and artillery shells which they found lying in the streets, in yards, and in fields.
Children play with spent munitions in Gorlovka. Children and war are concepts which shouldn’t mix, but this isn’t the case in Donbass. In eight years of war, a generation of boys has grown up here, for whom playing with the remnants of shells is a common hobby. Dozens of children have been injured, disabled, or killed in explosions of mortar and artillery shells which they found lying in the streets, in yards, and in fields. - Sputnik International
15/19
Children play with spent munitions in Gorlovka. Children and war are concepts which shouldn’t mix, but this isn’t the case in Donbass. In eight years of war, a generation of boys has grown up here, for whom playing with the remnants of shells is a common hobby. Dozens of children have been injured, disabled, or killed in explosions of mortar and artillery shells which they found lying in the streets, in yards, and in fields.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA woman wipes away tears near a convoy of vehicles from the 38th Russian humanitarian convoy to Donetsk in September 2015. For many residents of Donbass, humanitarian aid convoys consisting of food, medicines, and basic hygiene products became critical to survival.
A woman wipes away tears near a convoy of vehicles from the 38th Russian humanitarian convoy to Donetsk in September 2015. For many residents of Donbass, humanitarian aid convoys consisting of food, medicines, and basic hygiene products became critical to survival.  - Sputnik International
16/19
A woman wipes away tears near a convoy of vehicles from the 38th Russian humanitarian convoy to Donetsk in September 2015. For many residents of Donbass, humanitarian aid convoys consisting of food, medicines, and basic hygiene products became critical to survival.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bank51-year-old Yuri Yanush, who lost both arms before the war, peels potatoes. He lives in the village of Gurty outside the city of Donetsk. Single people with handicaps have no one to depend on, and have no hope of receiving normal medical care. Many cannot find employment. Regular shelling is the reality in which people who already live difficult lives even in times of peace are forced to exist.
51-year-old Yuri Yanush, who lost both arms before the war, peels potatoes. He lives in the village of Gurty outside the city of Donetsk. Single people with handicaps have no one to depend on, and have no hope of receiving normal medical care. Many cannot find employment. Regular shelling is the reality in which people who already live difficult lives even in times of peace are forced to exist. - Sputnik International
17/19
51-year-old Yuri Yanush, who lost both arms before the war, peels potatoes. He lives in the village of Gurty outside the city of Donetsk. Single people with handicaps have no one to depend on, and have no hope of receiving normal medical care. Many cannot find employment. Regular shelling is the reality in which people who already live difficult lives even in times of peace are forced to exist.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA lost shoe on the road to Donetsk’s Kievsky district. Donbass has literally been cut in two by the war. Once one of the most densely populated regions of Ukraine, many of its cities and towns have found themselves on opposite sides of the contact line since the spring of 2014. For example, the village of Zaitsevo is divided by streets. On Marshal Rybalko Street (which runs about 12 km), residential buildings 1-230 were under the control of the DPR, while houses 230-400 were controlled by Kiev.
A lost shoe on the road to Donetsk’s Kievsky district. Donbass has literally been cut in two by the war. Once one of the most densely populated regions of Ukraine, many of its cities and towns have found themselves on opposite sides of the contact line since the spring of 2014. For example, the village of Zaitsevo is divided by streets. On Marshal Rybalko Street (which runs about 12 km), residential buildings 1-230 were under the control of the DPR, while houses 230-400 were controlled by Kiev. - Sputnik International
18/19
A lost shoe on the road to Donetsk’s Kievsky district. Donbass has literally been cut in two by the war. Once one of the most densely populated regions of Ukraine, many of its cities and towns have found themselves on opposite sides of the contact line since the spring of 2014. For example, the village of Zaitsevo is divided by streets. On Marshal Rybalko Street (which runs about 12 km), residential buildings 1-230 were under the control of the DPR, while houses 230-400 were controlled by Kiev.
© Sputnik / Valeriy Melnikov / Go to the photo bankA woman walks past the graves of militia fighters who died in battles with the Ukrainian Army near the Saur-Mogila height. In 2014, the area saw heavy battles, just as it had during the Great Patriotic War. It’s difficult to count how many young men have been killed in the eight-year-long war in Donbass. According to the United Nations, over 13,000 people have died in the conflict, among them husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons who lost their lives defending independence and the right to live on their land, the rights of their families to learn and speak Russian, the right not to support the radical nationalist course of contemporary Ukraine.
A woman walks past the graves of militia fighters who died in battles with the Ukrainian Army near the Saur-Mogila height. In 2014, the area saw heavy battles, just as it had during the Great Patriotic War. It’s difficult to count how many young men have been killed in the eight-year-long war in Donbass. According to the United Nations, over 13,000 people have died in the conflict, among them husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons who lost their lives defending independence and the right to live on their land, the rights of their families to learn and speak Russian, the right not to support the radical nationalist course of contemporary Ukraine. - Sputnik International
19/19
A woman walks past the graves of militia fighters who died in battles with the Ukrainian Army near the Saur-Mogila height. In 2014, the area saw heavy battles, just as it had during the Great Patriotic War. It’s difficult to count how many young men have been killed in the eight-year-long war in Donbass. According to the United Nations, over 13,000 people have died in the conflict, among them husbands, brothers, fathers, and sons who lost their lives defending independence and the right to live on their land, the rights of their families to learn and speak Russian, the right not to support the radical nationalist course of contemporary Ukraine.
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