Eastern Donbas comprises the portions of Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions that have been occupied by Russian and Russian-backed separatist forces since 2014. It covered about a third of the two regions’ territory and was home to more than half of their prewar population of 6.5 million people, though the current population cannot be precisely determined. Local authority rested in the hands of the so-called People’s Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk (DNR and LNR, respectively), which were entirely dependent on Moscow for financial and military support. Both entities were recognized by Russia as independent states in 2022; Donetsk and Luhansk were annexed by Russia later in the year. Security services exercise tight control over local political activity, leaving no room for meaningful opposition. Local media are severely restricted and social media users have been arrested for critical posts. The rule of law and civil liberties are not respected.

Freedom in the World 2023

Freedom in the World — Eastern Donbas Country Report

Eastern Donbas is rated Not Free in Freedom in the World 2023, Freedom House's annual study of political rights and civil liberties worldwide.

* Indicates a territory as opposed to an independent country.