Before there was a raging civil war that devastated the region’s infrastructure and polarized its population, the Donbass region in Eastern Ukraine was an economically depressed area, far removed from the authority of the central government in Kiev.
Historically, Donbass—known officially as the Donets Basin, which encompasses the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts—was the center of Soviet industrialism, a region that symbolized the power of Soviet might where towns and cities sprung up alongside coal mines and factories. Following the USSR’s collapse, however, much of the region lay in ruins.
That’s the theme behind the series, “Donbass Romanticism,” by Moldovan-born photojournalist Misha Friedman, who photographed the region in 2010 and 2011 while living in Kiev. Friedman set out to depict the ruined, crumbling infrastructure as a symbol of government neglect and the collapse of Soviet ideals.