Statelessness and governance in the absence of recognition
The case of the ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’
in Statelessness, governance, and the problem of citizenship
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The ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’ is a self-proclaimed state in the Donbas region of Ukraine. The struggle for an independent Republic of Donetsk has resulted in significant bloodshed, particularly from 2014. Survey data suggests that most of the residents of the region would like their region to become part of Russia and the Donetsk People’s Republic relies heavily on Russian support. This chapter shows how governance decisions intended to achieve internal legitimacy in fact leave residents without a functional citizenship of either Ukraine or Russia. This means that they are effectively stateless, since citizenship of the Donetsk People’s Republic is not recognised beyond Donbas. The chapter traces what this means for individuals living in the region, and how it affects both their decision-making and their understanding of citizenship and identity. The case of the DPR highlights the powerful link between governance, statelessness, and citizenship. For established states, the inability to govern within a particular territory may contribute to statelessness. For self-proclaimed states, governance in pursuit of internal legitimacy may involve manipulation of citizenship policies, which enhances the risk of statelessness.

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