What do teens in occupied Donetsk want in life?


More, Peace to Ukraine, Ukraine, War in Donbas

Translated by: Christine Chraibi
Young people are the most active part of a country’s population and it’s not surprising that they turn to their respective governments for support. Basically, teens demand high-quality education, full interaction and connectedness, pleasant and accessible holidays, access to leisure activities and entertainment, as well as good job prospects and something to look forward to. Can the “DNR” government in occupied Donetsk meet these challenges? We asked some Donetsk students to talk about these issues…


Second-year student at Donetsk National University

“Leisure time or holidays? What’re you talking about?…  Who’re you kidding? You know, I hardly have time to study… and never mind have fun with friends or make holiday plans! I used to have a lot of friends, but most of them left this place, some to Ukraine, others to Russia. We get together if and when they come back to visit. We go out a bit, but not very much… So, in general, I hang out with my classmates, but we don’t go out a lot… So, I sit and rot away at home. My education? … Well, I just grabbed anything that came along; there was no other choice. I can’t really say that I hate what I’m doing, but the future doesn’t look very bright. I don’t know what’ll happen next … We’ll just have to wait and see.”


First-year student at the Institute of Sport and Physical Culture

“I’m a sportsman… When there was no war, we participated in all kinds of tournaments and championships. There was a future for us; we could look forward and plan. We could try out for the national team, or try to make the world championships. And now what?! OK, sure… I’ve won the “DNR” championship for the twentieth time in a row, so to say!! But, what’s the point? I’m not at all motivated… I can’t go to Ukraine. My federation’s banned me from all the competitions, and I can forget about competing in Russia. It’s much too tough! Some guys may enjoy living like this, but I certainly don’t! There’s nowhere to go. It’s like we’re stuck in a box… just hanging around and waiting.”


Second-year student at the Donbas Law Academy

“That’s a hard question to answer… we live in a time of war! It’s probably difficult for them to satisfy our demands, but they seem to be trying. But, there’s something I really don’t like, and that’s the curfew. I want to go out, sit in a café with my friends in the evening, and walk around Donetsk at night… I really miss that. It’s the same story with clubs and discos… Hardly anyone goes there anymore. We’re all too scared to go out. There’s no one in the streets after seven o’clock, and public transport hardly moves around the city after eight, even though curfew starts at eleven. We study, but we don’t know why and we wonder where we’ll end up. Our republic’s just too small to absorb all these lawyers… So, where will we work? Plus, our scholarships are catastrophically low, and we get by only thanks to our parents. But, I still believe that things will get better. I have to believe this!”


First-year student at Donetsk National University

“So, you’ve mentioned high-quality education, fun and holidays, and future prospects? Well, the only thing left here is getting together with friends and having some fun – cafes, bowling, clubs, rollers, karaoke – that’s still available. So, you know what they say?… “Just go out and enjoy yourselves, guys, and don’t think about anything else!” They’ve probably satisfied this one request…”


Student at Donetsk Medical University

“All I can say is that they talk a lot, but do nothing! Currently, they’re destroying the ambitions of all the young people here. It’s worse and worse every day, and we don’t know whether our future will be good or bad. So, if you can, you just pack up and leave…! That’s what everyone does!”

Translated by: Christine Chraibi

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