Most people in the Oblast (and more generally in Donbas) speak Russian, not Ukrainian. Almost 50 per cent of the people who live in the city of Donetsk are classed as ethnically Russian.
Despite the economic buffeting Ukraine has suffered recently, a num- ber of Donbas coal mines and the Donetskstal steel mill are still hard at work. Yet where you might have ex- pected progress, there has been very little. Two decades aſter independ- ence coal mining remains a dirty and very dangerous job, and now pays far less than in Soviet times. Te wife of a retired Donetskstal worker is quoted in 2008:*
“Te temperature in the open-hearth furnaces is almost 2,000°C. But the only protection the workers have is a felt suit with thick gloves, special boots and a helmet with black goggles.”
Even beyond the mines and the mills themselves, it is not a healthy place to live. Te average life expectancy for men in Donetsk is between 53 and 55 years, five years below the national
*Natalia Huzeva, Selyanska pravda, Kyiv, Ukraine 12.12.2008
level, low as that itself is. Te leading cause of death is diseases of the cir- culatory system, with cancer the sec- ond. One local journalist says heavy industry’s malign footprint stretches much further even than that: “Te World Health Organisation says air pollution shortens the life of every European by an average of eight months. Here in Donetsk the figure is eight years.”
Pollution from fixed points like mines and steel plants is now being augmented by growing traffic ex- haust fumes as vehicle ownership and use steadily increase. Many Donetsk residents use public transport – when they can. One frustrated traveller said: “Te metro, alas, remains only in the planning stage, although the money already spent is a lot. Nobody can understand why…”
But Donetsk makes valiant attempts to remind you that there is more to it than industry alone. It used to be called the City of Roses, and has now set about replanting a million rose bushes in its parks. A city of grime, pollution and ill-health, yes – but Donetsk is human enough to remember that its citizens need to dream as well.
Krasnyi Lyman S Sloviansk Kramatorsk i v .
Druzhkivka Artemivsk Kostiantynivka
Dobropillia Dzerzhynsk Dymytrov Krasnoarmiisk Selydove Vel. Novosilka
Novohrodivka Avdiivka Yasynuvata
Donetsk Dokuchaievsk Volnovakha 1 000 000 800 000 400 000 200 000 Novoazovsk Mariupol Yalta Population in Donetsk Oblast
Map produced for ENVSEC by ZOÏ Environment Network, September 2010 Source: LandScan Global Population Database 2007, Oak Ridge, TN, Oak Ridge National Laboratory (→ www.ornl.gov/sci/landscan); World Gazetteer 2010 (→ www.world-gazetteer.com)
Population density (inhabitants per km²)
Population in urban centres 1 5 50
Snizhne Horlivka Debaltseve Siversk