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Donbas Algorithms in Forming Regional Identity

Author uses the social psychology for explanation of Donbas military conflict

Nestor Makhno, the First Among Equals

Makhno, Nestor

Makhno, Nestor

Aleksey Stakhanov

Hero of Labour

Hero of Labour

Historical Algorithm According to A.Hirschman

Theory of O.HirschmanYearsHistorical Concepts

EXIT

1917-1921

Firstly, after defining the regional community, we examine the establishment of the Donbas as an ‘exit’ or an heterodox alternative to the mainstream political discourses. The association is made with Nestor Makhno (1989-1934) – the most colourful representative of that period, the legendary anarchist leader of the peasant Revolutionary Insurgent Army during the Civil War of 1918-1921.

LOYALTY

1921-1986

Secondly, we turn to the period of Stalin’s Great Terror in the Donbas aimed at transforming the politically ungovernable territory into a loyal Soviet industrial stronghold. Aleksey Stakhanov (1906-1977) – a Donbas collier and the founder of the Stakhanovite output norm-busting workers’ movement in 1935 – appears to be the most appropriate symbol of that epoch

VOICE

1989-1997

Thirdly, we examine the period of Gorbachev’s perestroika in its terminal period, which was brought about by a massive 500,000 coal miners’ strike in the summer of 1989. The late perestroika was symbolised by the image of an anonymous Donbas miner on strike, i.e. of the vocal leader of the first large-scale anti-Establishment protest in the country’s postWorld War II history.

TAKE-OVER

2014-till present

Finally, we consider the political development of the Donbas under the independent Ukraine, when a number of repeated attempts have been made by ‘outsiders’ to privatise and buy out the Donbas industries. It is maintained that since the second half of the 1990s, we have been witnessing a process by which the successful ‘voice’ strategy against the hostile privatisation bids gives its way to the final ‘friendly take-over’ (= re-take-over) of the Donbas from the central authorities by the local elites. It is contended that the latest return of the ownership over the region’s fortune into the local hands has been a fairly positive phenomenon, associated with the name of Viktor Yanukovych (born in 1950) – one of the Donbas political leaders, the region’s governor (1997-2002), and Ukraine’s current Prime-Minister (since November 2002).

Mykhail Gorbatchev, the First and the Last President of the Former USSR

President of the USSR

President of the USSR

Viktor Yanukovitch, the Former President of Ukraine, 2010-2014

The President of Ukraine in 2014

The President of Ukraine in 2014

Collective Memory in Donbas

  • One of the decisive factors in the beginning of Donbas conflict is the phenomenon of collective memory, as an attempt to assess. As known, in times of crisis people address to the past with double energy for defend unity and entirety, strengthen the moods of a community. The French sociologist Maurice Halbvax(1992) introduced the scientific term, the notion of “collective memory” in the 1920s. The scientist proposed the original theoretical conception about the dependence of individual memory on a collective one.
  • The author denies completely the possibility of its existence without social contexts. The individual memory is determined by from images’ selection to the forms and means of its interpretation. Each social group (even society or nation) forms the common representation about its own past, which reflects and makes the legitimacy of this or that group. Moreover, the individual memory forms and functions in its limits. The very important feature of the collective memory, according to Halbvax (1992) is the idea that it overpass the limits of individual biography and provides intergeneration’s translation, meaningful for the group, of knowledge about past. The continuity of the collective memory in the group depends on the effectiveness of its efforts for supporting this memory (commemorative practices). The content of it may be changed following the changing of ruling ideologies.
  • For example, present middle-aged residents remember times of the Soviet Union. Those times in Donbas enterprises of Union (USSR) importance were concentrated. They were complying with Moscow directly. The branches’ ministries were solving the majority of living problems, that’s why just the Moscow power was perceived as their own. The presence of russified population, the great part of which had Russian roots and had been permanently under the influence of Russian informative volume, had more confidence to Kremlin power than Kyiv one. Many residents, having experience of the service in the Soviet Army with its strongest propaganda about the messianic role of young soldiers in “struggle” for world peace, conserved souvenirs of their exclusivity.
  • Especially, soldiers were who had their service in groups of Soviet detachments abroad, such as Eastern Germany, Poland, etc. The feeling of ownership of the great power was remaining after the military service. In the structure of Soviet Army, there were a lot of military establishments preparing officers-instructors which were proving advantages of the Soviet State. It’s necessary to add every year celebration of the Victory Day on the 9th of May. Success in cosmos, free education and medicine, and other features of so-called socialism with higher miners’ salaries in comparison with other Soviet regions, were providing high rate of the socialist type of state in Donbas.

Unity of Historical and Psychological Factors

  • The unique history and circumstances of Donbas' development contributed to the separation of the region, give rise to a specific “Donbas ethnic identity”. The history is repeated. There were 1918 and 2014.
  • These two dates confirm the separatist desires of the Donbas region. From my point of view, the term separatist is not offensive and quite scientific. Don’t forget about separatist movements in British colonies. The USA began as separatists too. Between these years the protests in different forms were present regularly in Donbas.
  • Strikes against tsarist and Soviet powers were shaking this territory. The feeling of social freedom was always strong at its residents. Studying the history of this region we could draw peculiarities of Donbas' character, and explain many events from the behaviors of miners.


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