L. B. Vnukova  pp. 180-196

Abstract. The main political and socio-economic challenges against the background of non-rec-ognition are analyzed on the basis of the survey made by experts from the Donetsk People’s Re-public. The topical trends in public awareness that affect identity have been analyzed as well. To better understand socio-political processes, it is important to take into account the fact that the regional Donbass identity prevails over the national one. The public feeling is currently dominated by the fatigue from the situation of instability, the disillusionment resulting from the discrepancy between the ideas of the so-called “Russian Spring 2014” and present-day re-ality, and by social apathy. Besides, resentment against Russia is traced in public feeling for not having been incorporated into Russia’s territory, as was the case with the Crimea. The experts believe that under current ideological and informational confrontation the posi-tive potential of Russian identity is not used to the full, if at all. There is no unifying idea in the society; it is directly connected with the incomprehension of what exactly the political aspirations of the authorities are. Simultaneously, there exist three divergent vectors which disorient the people. Initially, it was ‘irredentism’ (restoration to Russia as a territory formerly belonging to it). Nowadays (autumn 2018), the prevailing vector is ‘Minsk Agreements’ in accordance with which the non-recognized republics remain part of the Ukraine; de facto — independent state-hood. The major challenges are, above all, security problems (i.e. inviolability of borders and population safety); next come isolation due to non-recognition and the resulting economic crisis; non-transparent mechanisms of governance and distribution of powers; legal vacuum, social tensions, etc. According to experts, the society is waiting for a new political initiative from the present-day authorities which will be aimed at improving the existing economic sit-uation of rank-and-file people and responding to the demand for social justice. The research carried out in the spring of 2018 is based on the experts’ polling, students’ questionnaire poll-ing and on participant observation. The novelty of the research consists in the use of informa-tion from the original source. The author has used firsthand opinions of the unacknowledged Donetsk People’s Republic’s residents. It facilitates understanding the situation from within. In the process of the research, the author was guided by the data of public opinion poll centers in the Ukraine, such as Razumkov Center, Donbas Think Tank, Kyiv international institute of Sociology, Sociological Group “RATING” (Rating Group Ukraine), etc.

Keywords: Donbass, security, regional identity, public sentiment, “Russian Spring” 2014, expert opinion poll