четверг, 25 июня 2020 г.

The eighth interactive marathon “The image of the future Donbas”



A key feature of the DD dialogue marathons lies in creating discourse.


Sure enough, people are trying to think about the future of Donbas, but most often these attempts are completely unproductive. This is due to the simple fact that the present is not complete, i.e. war-bent residents cannot forecast not only the distant future but even sometimes tomorrow. And the fact that the population of the whole country is somehow embroiled in the Donbas conflict is confirmed by a serious reformatting of the electoral field in the 2019 presidential and parliamentary elections. Peace in the Donbas is the main goal for the majority of voters, but no one has any idea of what kind of peace this should be.


Every agenda for the dialogue on the DD platform is formed in such a way that it meets the real needs and interests of the participants and the discourse that was formed during the previous marathon. This agenda is not always limpid and enounced directly and explicitly by the dialogers. During the marathon, the expert group analyzes the developing discourse and offers its vision. During the preparation for the next marathon, to be exact - during the crowdsourcing process, this vision is concretized in topics and questions for discussion.

Thus, since 2015 DD has been building a dialogue between participants representing different stances on the conflict. Every time the online-dialogue topics are selected based on the current situation and considered in such form and depth as the dialogers and expert group see and imagine it.


Dialogers on DD are the participants of the dialogues, not the organizers of the process. The term was proposed by Steinar Bryn in 2015, during the first marathon.

Ranging from the first marathon in 2015 (when at the hotspot of tension the dialogers started talking about management of the Donbas conflict), to the ninth, which is currently in the works, the topics of each next offline meeting in Svyatogorsk is determined by the content of previous online dialogs held a year/half a year before:




  • Autumn 2017, Svyatogorsk. 4th DIALOGUE MARATHON “NARRATIVE AND CONFLICT” 

  • Summer 2018, Svyatogorsk. 5th DIALOGUE MARATHON “RETURN” 

  • Winter 2018, Svyatogorsk. 6th CONVERSATIONAL MARATHON "AFTER THE WAR



  • presumably spring-summer 2020, Svyatogorsk. 9th DIALOGUE MARATHON “PRICE OF THE PEACE”.

“Do Not Harm” principle

All dialogue marathons of the Donbas Dialogue project (DD) are held with the participation of citizens of Ukraine, permanently residing in the isolated uncontrolled by the Ukrainian government territories of Donetsk and Lugansk regions (IRDLR). The military conflict that has been going on in this territory since April 2014 divided the country's civil society into two unequal parts. The participation of citizens of Ukraine and representatives of other states in the hostilities, numerous victims and crimes, violations of the rules of war, usage of prohibited weapons - all these factors have led to the need for restrictions on the carrying of people and material values ​​across the separation line. Over time, the territorial border regime was established here. Residents of IRDLR found themselves in a territory not controlled by the government, on which rights and freedoms are not guaranteed by the Constitution of Ukraine. These circumstances and the ongoing hostilities formed a biased attitude among people and institutes, which led to putative and real threats to people crossing the line of separation. Such obstacles to dialogue are especially relevant in the hot stage of the conflict. Most of them are surmounted with the help of online dialogue and the “Do Not Harm” principle.

Online dialogue software. DD Talk Service

Since the spring of 2017, within online dialogue methodology, a group of volunteers has been developing a special online DDTalk service for anonymous and secure communication. The main attention of the IT volunteers of DD was focused on the service interface since it should correspond to the design of the dialogue process. The interface was time-tested and practically did not change overall marathons. Currently, this interface has become a kind of standard. An instruction for independent use of the service for organizing private online conversations has been prepared. But this is not enough to organize dialogue marathons. As before, teamwork is required for an offline and online connection.

Therefore, at the 8th dialogue marathon, the technical support team was engaged in the analysis of accumulated experience to develop principles for creating flexible standards for the interactive marathons technical support teams.


During the marathon, DD Talk service is hosted on the Microsoft Azure platform as part of a free annual trial subscription registered for one of the DD team members. For the service, a Standard B1s virtual machine (1 virtual CPU, 1 GB memory) with a static IP based on the Ubuntu 18.04 OS is used. Physically, the server is located in the Western Europe data center. STUN and TURN servers are running on the same machine.

For participants who cannot connect directly to each other through STUN, a bypass TURN server is used, which means that in this case, the traffic goes through the server. As part of the trial subscription, the volume of free outgoing traffic is 15 GB per month. An hour and a half dialogue of 3 or 4 participants with different image quality through the TURN server use from 4 to 7 GB.


In previous periods the efforts of DD Talk developers were aimed at increasing the functionality of the interface (front-end). The last six months of preparation for the 8th dialogue marathon have been taken to solve the problem of stability and security of the hardware and software architecture of the DDTalk service on the server-side (back-end).


Almost the entire internal architecture of the DDTalk service has been changed to enhance security. The code was rewritten through self-invoking functions that allow isolating variables and functions so that they do not fall into the global scope.

A preliminary study of the 8th marathon

The discussion, which ended the seventh dialogue marathon, opened the gate for the continuation of the dialogue on the future of Donbas and Ukraine. During the years of the war, a new reality arose in which the experience of life and independence became extremely painful and instructive. During this time both parts of the country - controlled and uncontrolled by the Kyiv government - have come their way and changed. How much are these changes a condition or an obstacle to a final arrangement of the conflict? What is the price of peace? These questions will arise as a result of the discussion at the eighth marathon and we will return to them at the end of this report, but their wording turned out to be possible after analyzing the possible future as seen by the dialogers and the expert group of DD.


If at the seventh marathon we dealt with the toxicity of the past, then the eighth dialogue marathon was devoted to the formation of a possible image of the future.

Answers to the questions that we searched for during the preliminary discussion on the platform

The discussion on the topic of the marathon began on June 1, 2019. For six months, the following issues were brought up for discussion:

  • “What of the pre-war Donbas will not be in its future?” 

  • “What of the past of Donbas should be saved for its future?” 

  • “What in the future Donbas is an excuse for what is happening with the Donbas now?” 

  • “What are the pillars for the reversal of the multiple futures towards ending the conflict in the Donbas?” 


At this stage of the discussion, accomplishments were:

  • separation of past and present; 

  • determination of what is desirable to save from the past for the future; 

  • determination of what of the past predetermines the future; 

  • determination of why it is so difficult to get rid of a toxic past; 

  • finding out what you can draw on to end the conflict. 

Also, the images of the future were worked out, and the pictures of them could be tested for reality.


The conclusion made by the participants in the discussion

In the process of military conflict, four images of Donbas were formed, and based on them we can map the future:

  • the image of the dying Donbas; 

  • the image of the desolated Donbas; 

  • the image of the resurgent Donbas; 

  • memorial image of Donbas. 

Final discussion in the FB


During the discussion between the members of the DD platform, it became clear what modern Ukrainian society life concurrents influence or even determine the future of Donbas:

  • post-traumatic growth;

  • the conflict that brings clarification, rapprochement of people;

  • the violence that causes revenge; 

  • the people who were "captured" and "could not do anything";

  • people all over the country havе looked back at these 5 years and realized that only they can build their country as they want, and only they can be responsible for what is happening;

  • development of independent and critical thinking, drawing conclusions skills, getting rid of paternalism; 

  • аwareness of the malignity of external imperial influence;

  • awakened civic awareness;

  • a change in relations within society, a change in the attitude of the “elite” to their people; 

  • understanding that no real events have any impact on the future of Donbas. Nothing in the future of Donbas will be a consequence of the present; 

  • the credible future of cities, and not the Donbas as a whole. Because Donbas is dead; 

  • active economic growth after the war; 

  • strengthening of the Donbas residents’ respect for themselves; 

  • the emergence of a dominant Ukraine-wide identity rather than regional; 

  • development of the ability to predict the consequences of their actions/inaction and understanding of the degree of their responsibility; 

  • past management system inviability awareness, the inability of this system to engage in the establishment of manufacture in the region and well-being of the residents’ lives; 

  • understanding that no one even imitated any development, but simply exploited old resources; 

  • understanding that no prosperity, further technological updating, development, solution of any problems of Donbas, etc.... are not worth these sacrifices; 

  • understanding that a terrible misfortune has occurred; 

  • understanding that everything will change - the subject of disputes (Donbas), we, and the society around us; 

  • nothing; 

  • the contortion of facts. 


Сrowdsourcers have formed the list of the main reasons that determine the future of the region. From this list, four leading trends were identified through discussion and voting:

  1. the trend of change;

  2. the trend of the region residents’ personal growth and overcoming trauma;

  3. the trend of analysis and evaluation of the causes and consequences of the conflict;

  4. the trend of relations in society.


We asked the expert group to rank these trends in terms of impact on the future. The most influential, i.e. shaping the future, respondents identified the trend of change. However, this simple vote did not receive confirmation in the process of aggregation: the trend of “relations in society” turned out to be most firmly connected with the image of the future. It means that the desire for change is inferior to the reality of the current situation in society. People want change, but they don’t particularly believe in it. Since three variables participated in the aggregation process (trend, the image of the future and the level of correspondence of each question to them), the connections between them turned out to be more significant than themselves, the number of their choices by respondents, and the relative frequency of these choices. This will become clear further when discussing the process and the results of aggregation.


Questions that were included in the questionary

As a result of several stages of group analysis of all the content accumulated over five months, eighteen questions which, according to crowdsourcers, require discussion in online dialogs were selected. A list of these questions was proposed to them for ranking in the questionary.


Questions for aggregation:

  • What determines the future of Donbas, how do people see it? 

  • Is the separation line maintained in the minds of people living in Ukraine, or is it just a line on the map? 

  • Who can initiate specific actions to achieve peace and resolve the conflict? 

  • Do people see enemies in each other and does it depend on the territory of residence? 

  • What will happen after the end of the conflict and should one be afraid of it? 

  • How specifically do people see conflict resolution? What different people will be okay with? 

  • What is the future scenario? 

  • What unites people in a country, except for a common territory? 

  • Is it necessary to form an identity or “it will pass by itself”? 

  • Well, honestly, does anyone think that Donbas has a future? 

  • What about those for whom the past is more important than the future? 

  • What is worth recalling after 40 years? What will they remember? 

  • Why should something change? 

  • How to feed the Donbas? 

  • What events should be laid as a foundation of the future? 

  • Why may civil society be needed in the future? 

  • Why in Ukraine do they forget about the natural rights of people living in the uncontrolled territory? 

  • How to protect the future from the toxic past? 


From this list of questions for the online dialogues marathon, only four that most accurately capture the timely formed discourse will be selected. The rest will remain unworked, although they are of no less importance and relevance. Unfortunately, we have only one platform, and a significant part of the potential that is being formed on DD remains unclaimed.


This time the group members were asked to rank the list of questions in three categories: choose a trend (one out of four) to which each question can be related, select the image of Donbas (one out of four) that most closely matches this question and determine the accuracy of the question on a five-point scale.

The instruction was as follows. It was necessary to consistently answer three questions:

  • “What trend does question No. ... relate to?”, 

  • “What image of Donbas corresponds to this question?”, 

  • “How accurately, in Your opinion, is question No. ... relevant to the image you have chosen?” 


Forty-four online questionaries were completed.

Traditionally, in the process of aggregation, we determine the issues that collected the largest number of elections in each nomination. But this time, since we were primarily interested in the emerging image of the future of the still belligerent Donbas, we wanted to see tendencies: which images of the future are more preferable, which trends influence the formation of these images, and accordingly, which issues most reflect these influences.


The result was a rather complicated picture

The image that received the largest number of elections turned out to be “The Image of the Resurgent Donbas”.

The leading trend, having the greatest influence on this image of the future, turned out to be the “Trend of Relations in Society”.

The question reflecting the influence of the trend on the basic image was the following: “Why may civil society be needed in the future?”

The closest (second and third in importance) questions reflecting the influence of this trend were the questions “What events should be laid as a foundation of the future?” and “Who can initiate specific actions to achieve peace and resolve the conflict?”


The trend of change was second in importance. This trend also had the greatest impact on the “The Image of the Resurgent Donbas”.

The question that most fully reflects the influence of this trend is: “What will happen after the end of the conflict and should one be afraid of it?”


The trend focused on personal growth and development turned out to be the third in importance and it is also focused on the “The Image of the Resurgent Donbas”, and the key question of this trend is “Is it necessary to form an identity or “it will pass by itself”?”


And only the trend of “Analysis and Evaluation of the Causes and Consequences of the conflict” turned out to be focused on another image, the “Memorial Image of Donbas”, with the question “What is worth remembering after 40 years? What will they remember?”

Aggregation of content created by crowdsourcers of DD during six months of work showed that the image of the resurgent Donbas is the main image of the future among four that were presented at the eighth marathon. But at the same time, the main question that received the largest number of crowdsourcing elections was the “What is worth remembering after 40 years? What will they remember?” This question with the highest number of the election was significant for the least manifested of the trend (Analysis and evaluation of the causes and consequences of the conflict). An explanation of this paradox can be found in the speech of one of the speakers of the marathon, Professor Oksana Mikheeva: “Events that occurred during the conflict must be legalized, recognized as facts by state and social institutions. Only after that people will “remember” these events, they will have questions for each other and they will be able to ask them. Therefore, it is so important for the settlement to conflict to understand not only what people are talking about, but also what they are silent about.” This consistent pattern, a kind of “forgetfulness” among the dialogers during our dialogues, manifested itself during the eighth marathon.


As a result of aggregation, the following questions for dialogs and topics for speakers were selected for the “Image of the Future of Donbas” marathon:


The image of a resurgent Donbas.

  • Question for online dialogue: “Why may civil society be needed in the future?” 

  • Speaker's message: “Transformations of civil society during and after the conflict” 


The image of the desolated Donbas.

  • Question for online dialogue: “Why in Ukraine they forget about the natural rights of people living in the uncontrolled territory?” 

  • Speaker's message: “A noninstitutionalized history of the conflict as a condition for reconciliation with the past” 


The image of the dying Donbas.

  • Question for online dialogue: “Does the separation line maintain in the minds of people living in Ukraine, or is it just a line on the map?” 

  • Speaker's message: “Defective” identity as the basis for social stigma” 


The memorial image of Donbas.

  • Question for online dialogue: “What is worth recalling in 40 years? What will they remember?” 

  • Speaker's message: “A narrative that ends the conflict and starts the future”


November 05 - 09, 2019

Sherwood Hotel, Svyatohirsk, Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine.

First day

Working meeting of the DD team, facilitators, experts

The topic of the day “The image of the desolated Donbas.”


Traditionally, the day of arrival is dedicated to the adaptation and immersion of participants in the open space of the DD marathon, the solution of technical issues, the share of news, etc. However, as in the previous (seventh) marathon, the possibilities and time that the speakers can allow affect the program. We value the speakers and use the flexibility of the open space of the marathon to allow them to fully cover the topic. In this regard, the marathon began on the day of arrival by working with the “Image of the desolated Donbas”.

The forthwith reviews (from Facebook): “Nikolai Borisov: Started off the bat. The day of the group arrival from the marathon to the marathon is less and less like the Italian siesta, as it was planned at the beginning of the project. After discussing the news that our marathon traditionally begins with, speaker Oksana Mikheeva set the bar for a professional approach to conflict analysis, and her words can make an epigraph of the eighth marathon: “while we are in context, we tend to look for its confirmations, and call them a reality”.


Speech on the "A noninstitutionalized history of the conflict as a condition for reconciliation with the past", Oksana Mikheeva (Professor of Sociology, Catholic University, Lviv):

“Does a noninstitutionalized history of conflict exist?

What language do we write the history of the conflict in?

Why do people inside the conflict describe it in completely different ways?

As witnesses in the center of the conflict, we see only a fragment of reality. Therefore, we do not understand what we saw, what was happening? Coming back home, we look for sources of information with which we are completing our image of reality. Herewith we use only the information that corresponds to our subjective idea of ​​the happening. That makes, in fact, an ordinary person who conflicts, not a witness to this conflict. In the process of forming his/her position, he/she turns it from proactive to reactive. The chronology, in which each of the participants seeks to give primacy to the other side, and present their actions as an answer, becomes important.”

What the experts heard:


V.: “Theses from the speaker’s speech:

  • “How to see the reality in the prejudice of one’s position? 

  • When event sensitivity decreases, it becomes possible to exit the context. 

  • Who produces the information, who writes the story, for what purpose, and what is silent about? 

  • Propaganda is a specially created narrative for a specific audience. 

  • “Apophasis” - appears due to inconsistency with the dominant discourse.” 


B.: “The person who is part of the conflict sees only a piece of it, only what is happening around him/her. Therefore, he/she is trying to complete the picture of the conflict using other sources of information (Internet, radio, television). He/she reads and listens to the text, the one that pleases him and gradually slips away into his parallel reality, arranging events as he/she feels it more suitable. This way his/her chronology of events gradually builds up. And then he/she is trying to protect this chronology. Thus, he justifies his/her actions from the position of “historical chronology” in which he found himself. One of the accompanying characteristics of this situation is self-isolation.

This different chronology of events is the most important problem in writing a story, and especially a general story of conflict. To solve it (problem), you need to go beyond it. Otherwise, the author is biased by the subjective position. Therefore, to describe the conflict, it is very important to have access to people who can tell a “different story”.


This is not the first time the issue of “other”, the need to go beyond the boundaries of the situation for the conflict history to be freed from subjective aberrations has been raised at the DD marathon. The speech was rich in content and the future will allow us to comprehend and address some of the raised topics as separate independent tasks. Such topics may include “Apophasis”; “Attribution discourse”; the structure of the identity “citizen of Ukraine”; “Reality perceived as history” (about evidence); the problem of “synchronization” of history”; “Stigmatization and demonization of regions” (Donbas, Galychina); “Cognitive mythological constructs as a way to overcome demonization” (“Don and Bass Salon”, jazz festivals, works of Evgeny Yasenov, etc.); new linguistic differences within the Donbas (controlled/uncontrolled territories); what we have to say to each other and that we will never say (“eternal” “apophasis”).

Online dialogue: “Why in Ukraine they forget about the natural rights of people living in the uncontrolled territory?”

Dialogers’ reviews :

T.: “I have chosen this topic, it grabs me. For some reason, it was difficult for me to stay in it, not to lose touch. Most likely due to technical difficulties.

Facilitation. I liked the velvet, unobtrusive facilitation. I not only did not hear but also did not feel the opinion of the facilitator, that's cool. She helped the process to move, did not try to influence the speed, I felt comfortable. There was a feeling that she had prepared some information, her vision of the topic, but she refused it when we looked at the topic from a different angle and worked with us in our process. I had a moment when I became involved in the process emotionally, the facilitator repeated my words restrainedly and did not miss anything important, it gave me the feeling that I am heard me, and, accordingly, my willingness to listen to others.


About the scope of the topic. In the beginning, there was a rush, now I can’t recall from whom it came from, to discuss what natural rights are.

This confused me, I did not want the conversation to leave the field of practical violation of rights into philosophy. The following violations of the rights of Ukrainian citizens residing in the uncontrolled territory were voiced: special lists of documents upon receipt of a passport; obtaining a birth and death certificate in a judicial proceeding, but not administrative; freedom of movement; deprivation of the right of disposal; pension liability.


It was also important for me to hear: the perception of citizens of Ukraine living in the uncontrolled territory is necessary, such a message from the authorities, the media, and public organizations are needed. And that the reduction of the rights of citizens of Ukraine on one side of the separation line was to some extent “legitimized” in the media and even voiced by the public, including the human rights sector.”


P.: “What got kept in mind: the positions of other dialogers, their desire to be heard by people from Donetsk. What did I like? The opportunity to communicate, the willingness of people to contact. What would I like? To continue to talk and listen to these and others. What didn’t I like? The topic, which in my opinion was formulated provocatively (I admit that to attract people from Donetsk to the dialogue). Is there a desire to continue? Yes with pleasure.


It was important for me to hear the positions of people from Donetsk, their vision, and to allow them to be heard with acceptance and without criticism, evaluation. I was glad that they had the opportunity to think about how people live in Kharkiv, and I had the opportunity to think about how people live in Donetsk. I would like people, regardless of their place of residence, not to suffer and their rights not to be violated. It seemed to me that this helped to “build a bridge”, and I would love to continue communicating with these people - to understand more about their needs, to tell about my own.

In general, I still had warm feelings after the dialogue. Thanks to the organizers and the facilitator. Thanks to her skills, we were able to hear each other in such a short period.”


Y.: “Two dialogues - same impression. Got kept in mind:

1. The tension of the participants.

2. Slow speech in Ukrainian - from the second dialogue (the dialoger was a participant in one more dialogue).

It seems like thinking in Russian and then translating into Ukrainian.

3. I have been taken aback by immersion in details which, from my point of view, are secondary. Secondary for the overall picture, important individually.

4. The lack of an aggregate picture of the events. It annoyed me a bit.

5. Confusing forgetfulness of past events. You remind, but they do not linger in the heads. Get crowded out. Do not raise questions for clarification. Or at least objections.”


The dialogues are interesting because despite there were presented three different positions, three views and the participants distinguished them, it did not affect hearing and listening to each other. Three different narratives did not enter into the competition, although they caused some irritation among the participants. The role of facilitating such dialogues was felt by both the participants themselves and the expert group. It is important to note here that for the first time in this marathon the dialogues were facilitated by participants in the DD educational program. This was their first experience of practical facilitation of online dialogs.


Second day

The theme of the day “The image of the resurgent Donbas”


Speaker: “Transformations of civil society during and after the conflict” (everyday practices in conflict).


At the eighth marathon, thanks to the speakers, the sociological analysis of the conflict turned out to be a deep and important independent topic:

  • What does it mean to research the immediate scene of fighting? 

  • How manageable is the rigor of such research? 

  • What future can we see through the everyday practices of people living where war is a familiar part of everyday life? 


Lilia Drogina, Assistant Professor of the Department of Philosophy and Sociology, Taras Shevchenko National University of Luhansk.

The mass consciousness in the active combat zone in the Donbas is as follows (the methodology of “trust groups” was used to collect information about people's thoughts and views on the conflict in the Donbas):

  • 90% of respondents identified themselves as Ukrainians, and it means that in the structure of identities of the vast majority, civic identity is one of the most significant. This indirectly indicates the attitude on Ukraine as a country of residence; 

  • Residents of the frontline areas of Donbas, in comparison with urban residents of Ukraine as a whole, do not tend to vent their opinions about the socio-political situation in the country and the region. The proximity of the separation line determines the concealment of people’s opinions to ensure their safety and the safety of their families

  • The main sources of information for most respondents is television, as well as offline (relatives, friends, acquaintances, colleagues) and online (Internet) networks, the latter becoming more and more significant. This distribution indicates the loss of the “omnipotent role” of television in shaping public opinion. Constant contacts with residents of territories on the other side of the separation line can significantly affect the idea of ​​the conflict, its sources, causes, and solutions; 

  • More than half of respondents consider the border between Ukraine and the IRLDR as the border “between friendlies”. In their statements, respondents emphasize that both territories are their homeland. This indirectly indicates a willingness to contact and an orientation toward a peaceful resolution of the conflict (“you will not fight with friendlies”); 

  • The military conflict in the Donbas has affected the everyday practices of the frontline zones residents on both sides of the separation line, in particular, new economic practices have appeared. The armed conflict “spawned” and is actively fueling corruption at roadblocks and surrounding territories on both sides (smuggling on an especially large scale, crossing the separation line without a queue, wheelers, etc.). A whole network has emerged to provide intermediary services for pensioners who permanently reside in an uncontrolled territory (transportation, registration in the unoccupied territory, accommodation, and staying the required number of hours in an unoccupied territory to undergo identification procedures, etc.). 

Online dialogue: “Why may civil society be needed in the future?

Dialogers’ reviews:

Yu.: “What did I remember? That the connection with the facilitator disappeared from time to time and we talked together, quite well. What would I like? A person from an uncontrolled territory to participate. What did I like and what didn’t? As always, communication is good! Is there a desire to continue? Yes. It is important that civil society “works” for people in the right way, and not pseudo.”


S.: “After a month I’m analyzing how the dialogue affected me.

First of all, there is a feeling of gratitude to the organizers and those people whom I do not know personally, but who deal with the technical issues of the Dialogue.

After the discussion, there was a bitter aftertaste - a mixture of sadness. I still ask myself, how can I see Donbas after the conflict, if it was distant and incomprehensible to me before it. Activism in peacekeeping for me lies in specific faces, places. That is why, after the first dialogue, I focused more on peacekeeping activities here and now.

I feel a desire to continue participating in the project, I would like to have a dialogue with women to feel empathy, as the topic of the conflict in Donbas is quite emotional for me. The price of human life, that's what I'd like to talk about.

An important part for me was being able to hear a point of view about access to information. On the possibility of returning to life in Donbas, on the basic values ​​and needs of a person who has left the conflict zone and the possibility of inventorying their needs concerning the image of Donbas and security needs.

In the dialogue there was sometimes a distrust of the dialoger, in the second part of it - he either repeated my words or said I agree. No argument.

The facilitator felt the situation, I felt the support and understanding from the facilitator.

I hope I did not offend another participant by my frankness.

Thank you for the opportunity to participate ”

The third day

The theme of the day “The image of the resurgent Donbas”


Speaker: “Transformations of civil society during and after the conflict


Steinar Bryn does not need to be introduced to our audience. Founder of the Nansen Dialogue Network, legendary personality. Together we started doing DD marathons. His support is very important for the platform team. He never refuses DD to participate in marathons and we will still meet at the marathon offline. As always prophesied. During his speech, no one thought and suspected a pandemic, and Steinar spoke about the problems that the pandemic would make obvious. And he was the first to name the topic of the next ninth marathon.


Here is a line from his biography: “Steinar Bryn has, together with the Nansen Dialogue Network, been nominated to the Nobel Peace Prize 2009-2014. He has been nominated by the deputy president of the Norwegian parliament, a member of the Bosnian parliament, and a professor in mediation in Norway."

Steinar Bryn:

  1. The conflict between safety and adventure is now relevant. It is based on a choice: what is more important, security or freedom, continuation or change of policy. Time passes - and the possibility of other choices emerges. But people are changing slowly. That is why multicultural education must be introduced and developed.

  2. Confidence in one’s rightness is a person’s weakness. Education and progress help to overcome this weakness ... For example, in Macedonia, 400 history books with different visions of the conflict have been written from the standpoint of different ethnic groups - Turkish, Macedonian, Albanian …

  3. When I was in Odesa in 2014, I compared Ukraine to Bosnia and Herzegovina. People did not like what I said. They denied the existence of internal conflict and attributed everything to foreign policy interference. But in Bosnia and Herzegovina, I saw the same thing. There, too, the conflict was explained by the intervention of another state - Serbia.

  4. War is always about separation and conquest. There comes a time when the conflict begins to “support itself,” moving to a new round. Continuing, the conflict between people increases the “cost of conflict”.

  5. We must accept the fact that on Earth there are only 200 states and 2,000 nationalities. And the idea of ​​the existence of mono-ethnic states is now outdated.

  6. I spent almost 8 years communicating with people in the Balkans. All this time they did not believe historical information, they saw enemies in each other. The image of the enemy was negative and dominated. In the modern world, this is impossible, “clean” borders of states (that is, states within the framework of one ethnic group) are impossible. And this is a challenge for modern Ukraine, which is now experiencing a conflict between traditions and civilization transition.

  7. In Ukraine, the history of dialogue and mediation is strong but dysfunctional. Nevertheless, I do not lose optimism - in Ukraine, there is a new president who seems to be more serious than his predecessors. And if the state starts work in this area, then everything else will be tightened.

  8. Speaking about the future, it is useful to remember post-conflict Croatia. Conflicts end, but people who left do not return, they lose hope, lose faith in politicians, trust in the political forces of their native country.


Online dialogue: “Why may civil society be needed in the future?

Dialogers’ reviews:

S.: “At the stage of acquaintance, it turned out that, in general, the concept of “civil society” is similar for everyone, except for the depth and detailization of society varieties. This turned out to be important during analyzing the understanding of conflict situations...

 A life example proposed for consideration showed me that:

  • The concepts of civil society, directly and indirectly, include all people living in a given territory and whose interests are сommon. 

  • Governmental regulation tends to respond to an already accomplished conflict. 

  • The state has a limited set of tools for resolving all possible conflicts in a given territory. 

  • If the conflict comes to a standstill at the party trying to resolve the conflict, and there is no idea how to get out of it, it is better to act humanly. From my point of view, to act humanly is to observe the right of another living being to live, to self-expression ... 

  • Acting humanly allows the situation to be resolved most humanly. Even in cases where the parties to the conflict do not understand the explanations of what it means to “act humanly”. 


The dialogue has broken off, suddenly leaving a great desire to continue it (the Internet of the dialoger disconnected during this dialogue due to arrears for services to the provider). The position and understanding of the considered example of one of the dialogers remained a mystery to me.

To sum up the discussion of this topic of dialogue, I can say that I need civil society to form interests, understand the positive qualities of society itself, and to jointly improve the quality of life in this territory (the dialoger reside in Donetsk).”


E.: “This was the first time I participated in the dialogue and I was a little worried. Such serious preparation, safety, and all that. I was afraid that emotions might overwhelm me on the difficult issues of the war and who is to blame for all that Donbas's happiness.

But it turned out to be not that scary, everyone was correct, and although I was quite emotional, I was able to keep them down, since everyone was quite friendly.

I was curious to see and hear people with a different attitude and views and still feel safe! This is rare at this time and our situation. Some things seemed strange to me, but as I understood, a successful dialogue can only be possible with sincere communication and a minimum of tough ideological stances.


I was interested in questions, especially about civil society. There was hope for a brighter future and I saw an opportunity to find common values ​​and common tasks between societies with different civic positions and on different sides of the barricades!

And I met very interesting people! And I continue to communicate with them.

I am interested to continue.

I am not against publishing

Something else?

Ahhh. I am grateful to the organizers!!!”


O.: “I am participating in the DD project for the second time as a dialoger. After each dialogue, I feel elated from the fact that I am involved in something big, important. Also participating in the dialogue satisfies my need for communication with others, to hear each other, to build bridges of peace and understanding. In the process of communicating with the participants in the dialogue, we quickly found common ground, found common friends, and interest in a common topic. It was important for me to express my position and hear the position of other participants. I am grateful to the facilitator who led the process, which returned us to the process, and sometimes allowed us to deviate from the topic and this was cool because some underlying processes needed to be touched at that moment. It was also useful to me, as a facilitator of dialogues, to take part as a dialogue. This experience allows me to feel what is happening with the participant in the dialogue process, to pay attention to how the facilitator works, which affects the process. In general, I was satisfied with the process itself and the way the facilitator led it. What would you like to improve? I wanted the facilitator to contribute less to the process of his opinion. I felt this in the role of a dialoger and I take this experience with me, how not to do it and how it affects the process. Grateful for this experience. I also liked the fact that there is an opportunity to continue the dialogue further, after the main time. In two dialogs, I took this opportunity and continued to communicate further. We even had joint projects. I thank the organizers of the DD for the opportunity to participate in such processes. I will be glad to participate further.”


Fourth day

The theme of the day “The image of the resurgent Donbas


On this day there were two speakers who, relying on data from basic research, tried to describe the prospects for the development of the situation in the Donbas. The dialogues between the speeches breaks allowed the marathon expert group to see the areas of interaction between the parties where it is possible to use the models proposed by the speakers in real practice of resolving the conflict.

We have a lot of analytics at this marathon. Ildar Gazizulin's report on some of the SCORE results completed the immersion of the expert group in the conflict sociology. An online dialogue on the separation line showed how dialogue helps bring positions closer. The speaker’s message by Karina Korostelina has deeply focused on understanding the processes in conflict as not to become dependent on stereotypes and the current context. The discussion in the expert group was aimed at analyzing the differences that arise between the emerging communities.


Speaker Ildar Gazizulin, Kyiv, UNDP. Readiness for the dialogue and vision of the future

The speaker’s message was dedicated to the results of the social cohesion study, readiness for dialogue, and vision of the future of controlled and uncontrolled territories, which have been held in Ukraine since 2016 (SCORE index).


What does the index show?

Firstly, throughout the entire period of research, the residents of the region (Donetsk and Lugansk regions, territories under control) are becoming more willing to dialogue with all categories of people in Ukraine, including residents of uncontrolled territories (https://use.scoreforpeace.org/files/publication/pub_file//Dialogues2018_RU.pdf ).

Secondly, the vision of the future of Ukraine as a result of the reintegration of uncontrolled territories among residents of the controlled and uncontrolled territories of Donbas varies significantly. The minimum support for both audiences is the option “Leave the situation as it is now.” The option “Remain in Ukraine with a special status” (50/50) is equally evaluated relative to uncontrolled territories. Both one and the other group of citizens of Ukraine counts on mutual understanding of their reference groups, which differ significantly in their orientations. Residents of uncontrolled territories of Donbas hope to find a common language with those who support separation from Ukraine, and residents of controlled regions - with residents of eastern regions of Ukraine ( https://use.scoreforpeace.org/files/publication/pub_file//PUB_DGEUkr19_Preliminary%20Findings%20Presentation_UKR.pdf ).


Online dialogue “Does the separation line maintain in the minds of people living in Ukraine, or is it just a line on the map?


The trends identified by the SCORE Cohesion Index researchers were confirmed during the online dialogue. As an illustration, the dialogers chose an example of the unification of West and East Germany: “In Germany, people sought to unite, but in our situation, on the contrary, the desire to separate dominates the motivation for unification.”

Dialogers’ reviews:

Q.: “In previous years safety and caution in utterances seemed to be a very great value precisely for these dialogues, which bring up issues that are painful for all participants. But now, it seems more important to give space to what “hurts” and stop protecting it (something like with a broken leg - it's time to step on, although it hurts a lot). I have a clear feeling that the participant from Donetsk (the younger one, I don’t I remember the names, unfortunately) did not have enough time and space, and he has something important to say - which needs to be analyzed and investigated (or rather vocalized and listened to). ...

Everyone said that yes - this is not only a "geographical fact." Nevertheless, for example, my idea of ​​this line is purely speculative. For me, it is initially a kind of abstraction, which I know of as a fact and from those who cross or crossed it, those who "live" in it and speak or spoke about it. Through the perception of others - I have a feeling that the situation is changing, the line becomes a psychological fact, as well as a fact that changes the relationship of people, not only in a community separated by a line but also in the world. And I run past it, I feel. A participant who does not cross this line for personal security reasons does not happen in Donetsk, also perceives this line as something more than a geographical fact - which he/she is talking about. And objectively for him/her, this is primarily not about the checkpoint, but about territories where reality is different...

But for the third participant, for whom the line is a reality that he/she knows well. He/she is in close personal contact with it - not as a helping specialist, or something like that. For him/her, the line is a part of his/her personal life, and now continues to transform his/her life, influences it directly...

From the dialogue as a whole, it follows, as I think, that they spoke of separation, and not of the line, and whether there is an opportunity to overcome the separation that was imposed or introduced, or there is no such possibility. It seems that none of the participants have real optimism. But there is an understanding of the need to do something with separation.”


A.: “Actually, I didn’t remember a lot of substantive specifics - basically, the general impression of a deep friendly exchange of thoughts on the topic of the conflict, as well as those arising issues that could not be clarified enough (due to avoiding the topic of dialogue or lack of time). I was surprised how imperceptibly a fairly long time allotted for the dialogue passed.

I liked:

- along with the opportunity to hear the thoughts of other (“new”, not included in my circle of contacts) people, I liked the opportunity to express my thoughts, positions, which usually are not possible to formulate or express in everyday life (or just discuss them with new people);

- participation of the facilitator, who almost did not intervene, but sometimes directed the discussion and “threw up” questions for discussion.


I did not like:

- lack of ability to fix all emerging (or at least our own) thoughts and ideas. It might be useful to invite participants sometime after the dialogue (2-3 days after) to propose writing key ideas for the discussion. Even not for discussion or sending - for ourselves. This would allow, on the one hand, to “get out of the process” to the participants who have plunged deeply, and on the other hand, to fix and develop thoughts, ideas, and insights. In some cases, this could turn into articles, recommendations, etc.”


AB.: “Dialogues are always interesting and useful. It is very clearly shown that we are not always ready to hear each other and we need to learn to speak and listen and hear. There is still a lot to do. Very useful and interesting. The question is how to attract officials.”


Speaker Karina Korostelina, Washington. “Defective” identity as the basis for social stigma.


The main thesis of the speaker:Each person can choose a lot of identities. We are free to choose positions. But we are not protected outside the group. For protection, it is necessary to adjoin. And the more we are loyal to the group, the more protected we become. But at the same time, we sacrifice freedom.

First, Karina explained what identity is, telling a story about fish. They are asked - how do you like the water? They ask in response - what is water? Identity is what we live in, and the presence of which we do not always notice. Sometimes it is difficult to answer questions - what is it, why does it exist. The simplest and most common response of people about identity is “I believe in it.”

Identity is built on the basic values ​​formulated by people who have the power to form social representations.

Social representations come in many forms. Many of them are unconscious. We see the world through simplified social representations, very often built on the opposition “we are them”.

An example is a map of the world where Europe and North America are at the top. In essence, this shows that the concept of peace was created by Europeans.

In a normal situation, a person is free to choose his/her position, but is he/she protected when he/she is on his/her own and does not accept dogma?

In a conflict situation - a person is not protected. If a group protects him/her, then he/she pays his/her loyalty - replaces his/her position with the group’s positions.

The more security is needed, the more people sacrifice freedom. The more person is not protected, the more h/she has the acceptance of group values. One identity becomes dominant. The spiral unfolds. The world is becoming dual. Other identities become unimportant, only the identity included in the conflict is valuable.


Further, the speaker considered several phenomena:

  • Positive comparison. We consider their identity defective: “they are worse than us,” “they do not understand anything,” “we are free, but they are not,” “our values ​​are correct, but their are not.” 

  • Attribution mistakes. The difference of criteria approaches to the analysis of situations, the definition of “their” behavior through “their” traits: “We are smart, and they are lucky.” If our group is involved in a crime, then the explanations used are: “We had no other choice.” If the crime was committed by “them”: “They have no values.” 

  • Cognitive dissonance. An explanation of the situation based on the position “our group is the best”, and everything that contradicts this position is shifted to the opposite side of the conflict, responsibility is transferred to others. 

  • Relative deprivation. The phenomenon of comparing “oneself” with “them,” an explanation of the situation through comparisons. “We have fewer rights than they have,” “it used to be better than now.” The most active comparison is that “they” have more rights, more money, more work, “they receive two pensions - Russian and Ukrainian”. 

  • Collective axiology. A phenomenon based on morality and how we see the world. The moral values ​​of one group do not apply to other groups. “Others” remain beyond our moral boundaries. They do not have the rights that we have - to live, to be free. “We are moral,” but these principles do not apply to another group. 


Thus, another group becomes a group with a defective identity: “they are aggressive, create conflict, cannot be peaceful.”


Research on stigmatization shows that people who are stigmatized ultimately accept the behaviors imposed on them. The social boundary is invisible, there are usually many social boundaries. They are associated with narratives (explanations) about how “we” differ from “them”.


Social boundaries are created through stories about us and others. We can blur these boundaries. For this, methods of cross-categorization and super-caution are used:

  • Cross-classification. The infowar is characterized by the creation of simplified schemes created to explain events. Life is much more complicated, it is characterized by many situations. You can work together to create a common history, look for what unites people. 

  • Supercategorization. Hybrid warfare is built on the connections between events that demonstrate a negative attitude of people towards each other. Supercategorization allows you to include in the main cultural space, cultural categories that expand the areas of communication, create common themes and allow the formation of new common meanings (love, values, relationships between people). 


Fifth day

The theme of the day “The Memorial Image of Donbas


The speaker that day was a civilian activist from Kosovo. Twenty years of ongoing conflict have passed before the Kosovo Serbs and Kosovo Albanians began to talk to each other. And, judging by the reaction of Goran Lozancic, a Kosovo Serb present at the marathon, who left Kosovo in 1999 and does not plan to return there, it is far from a cloudless process. It is symbolic that it was on the day of the start of our marathon that an agreement was reached for the first time between Kosovo Serb and Albanian civic activists at the beginning of joint reconciliation efforts in the region.


Speaker of Miodrag Milicevic, Pristina “Narrative that brings the conflict to a close and opens the future


The main thesis of the speaker:I am not very proud of where we are after the conflict. I believe that not only politicians are responsible for this, but also ordinary people.

20 years of the history of the conflict in Kosovo.


Kosovo is the last republic of the former Yugoslavia to achieve independence. Kosovo Albanians were unhappy with the 1996-1997 treaties, so they created their army, police units. They fought for this for two years. In 1998-1999, they were supported by the international community.

The negotiation process was started, but during it, the parties did not reach an agreement. As a result, new participants were drawn into the conflict - NATO, Serbia. In February 1998, a conflict broke out between Kosovo Albanian rebels and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.

During the bombing of Kosovo, from 500 to 700 thousand Albanians left Kosovo.

In June 2000, the bombing stopped. A technical agreement was signed between Serbia and NATO, according to which Albanians have power over Kosovo, and Serbia removes its institutions of power from it. Albanian refugees returned to Kosovo, but Kosovo Serbs were forced to leave. 230 thousand Kosovo Serbs are IDPs in other places and countries. There were also victims: more than 30 thousand were killed in Kosovo: Kosovo Albanians - 10 thousand, Kosovo Serbs - 2.2 thousand, the rest - other nationalities.

The international community played a key role in the conflict. In 2000, it established control in Kosovo, creating it from scratch. The Serbian community of Kosovo did not participate in this process. Our biggest failure is that the Kosovo Serbs (refugees and IDPs) did not return after the cessation of hostilities.

Only five days ago (early November 2019), Serbian civic activists made contact with Kosovo Albanian activists. Two platforms for dialogue were created - one at the citizen level, the second through a political talk show. Kosovo Albanians address the Kosovo Serbs in the Serbian language and discuss developments in the country.

Conclusion: civil society plays a key role in normalizing relations.


Online dialogue. “What is worth recalling after 40 years? What will they remember?

Dialogers’ reviews:

A.: “First of all, thank you for the relaxed atmosphere you managed to create from the very beginning.

What I liked once again is that more than two people took part in the dialogue and thus the conversation did not get stuck, the facilitator fed it through clarifications, reflections. I saw that understanding and "establishing (un)justice" became a unifying request for dialogue (turning the pages of the notebook), we also talked about the request for "subjectivity" and "powerlessness" along with "manipulation", and finally with the ability "Learn lessons for the future." Although it was difficult for me to agree with some of the statements of my interlocutors at the global level, when we came to certain situations, this association arose there.

Recently, I compared DD and Blablacar, because the grievances of "technology" unite my torn little homeland. The three of us talked about the demand for justice in Ukrainian communities on both sides of the separation line, about the attitude to people's needs, about the sense of dignity, that the state and its bodies treat citizens properly, now there is mostly unfair treatment of people in almost everything this also applies to communities, the ability to influence processes in communities. The historical past - here, however, our opinions diverged.”


F.:What do I remember? Openness and desire to be heard, as well as willingness to listen and hear the participants of the dialogues. Impartial and safe communication promotes understanding between people. What would I like? To continue the dialogue both with the participants from the part of the country controlled by the Ukrainian government and with the people "on the edge", especially since the conversation started and the discussion revolved around the influence and development of civic consciousness and civil society on understanding between different parts of the country and on possible forms of cooperation, including - exchange of experience in building public initiatives. What did I like and what didn't? It turned out that there was not "enough" time and we had to communicate with pleasure in "extracurricular" time. Is there a desire to continue? Naturally and necessary.


E.:I was very worried. I was afraid that on the other side there would be someone inadequate. I was worried in vain. In general, I like to talk and listen, and here are pleasant interlocutors. I would love to continue to get to know them further. We exchanged contacts, I think we will still talk.

And on the other hand, maybe the fact that we are on the same wavelength does not make it possible to assess the possibility of dialogue with people of another warehouse (I'm afraid to write an incorrect definition)?


From FB: “Nikolai Borisov: This was the last day. It closes the marathon, but not the dialogue. Many parallels with the conflict in Kosovo. Two online dialogs about the main thing, about the line of separation, about our war, forced the souls and dialogue workers, and the participants of the expert group and facilitators to work. The marathon is closed. Tomorrow we will draw a line and define the topic of the ninth marathon. Thanks to everyone who made this possible.

Sixth day

The theme of the day: Analysis of the development prospects of the DD project. Discussion of the ninth marathon

Each of our marathons ends up with an “assault” on the topic of the following. And this time too. We are pushing this chariot of peacebuilding towards the end of the conflict, and it strives to slide back into the war. What pulls back? Denial of reality. Disagreement. Worldly vanity without purpose, without striving for peace. Pretending that everything is okay with us, “they” are those who have problems. And fear.

At the eighth marathon, we talked about the fears of those who were not in the real war zone, who did not lose loved ones, who did not explode at home, who did not sit in basements without water and electricity, who did not die of hunger, cold, and lack of help on CPVV. This is fear from unknown threats, and therefore fear is panicky, crazy. People in fear try to fight “evil”, but in reality, they only show passive disagreement with the flow of events that are not dependent on their will.

What can DD do in this situation? To propose a different model for solving the problem - to continue the dialogue. Instead of hurting friends and giving pleasure to enemies, talking about the world, about how to achieve it, at what cost. The theme of the next, ninth DD marathon is “The price of peace”.


Goodbye reviews:

  • “The marathon is closed. The dialogue continues. The speakers were vigorous, the dialogs difficult. Revelations and discoveries. But the tendencies of a change in society in a positive way are becoming clearer. I’m leaving the marathon with hope, plans, a desire to work. And with faith. The belief that all this is not in vain. Thanks to everyone.” 

  • “We let this marathon be. Any grief can be burnt out.”  

  • “Thank you for doing this and thank you for inviting me to join the dialogue.”

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