Point of view
(Peter Schwarz, Head of Project, Chairmean of VladOpera e.V.)
The changes in daily life were difficult for the local population. The locals have not only suffered from the war. Many people became victims of ideological confrontation between the ideas of "independent united country" and "Russian world". Hosting thousands of refugees in a small city was also very hard.
The local population's reaction to the war was very divergent. As for our partners, one part of artists, musicians and administrative employees escaped to Russia. A second part stayed in Luhansk, supporting the new power — or just trying to come to some arrangement to be able to stay home. A third part fled to those parts of the country controlled by the Ukrainian authorities.
Thus, today many structures are doubled: there is, for example, one theater in Severodonetsk and the second one in the city of Luhansk; the same for the philharmonics. Artists that have been working together for many years find themselves in completely "opposite" worlds.
This mental gap can be seen in many fields, even within families and among close friends: some people define themselves as being part of the "Russian world", others feel clearly "Ukrainian," and many people just want the war to end and don't take a position on either side.
Above the tragedy of a still-ongoing war, and besides all practical or political questions, the main challenge in the region is: How can a common perspective for a peaceful co-existence in the region be found? How can all the hatred on all sides, grown as a consequence of this war, be overcome? How can people build mental bridges after such suffering? How to filter through all the propaganda from both West and East and try to find a common language? When the war ends, it will be very difficult to overcome mental barriers between people. It seems that it will take a lot of time to re-build any kind of confidence.