Mariupol, Alchevsk, and the Extension of Russian Social Infrastructures or Citizenship through Expropriation: A Social Reproduction Analysis

This paper examines the current export of Russian state social infrastructures into occupied Donbass, as it is met and negotiated by working-class struggles at the point of social reproduction. I analyze the extension of two Russian federal policies, the pro-natalist Maternity Capital Benefit and the Housing and Urban Environment development project, against the backdrop of real estate grabbing and settlement of Russian citizens in occupied territories, arguing that this is a case of citizenship through expropriation and financialization. Drawing on interview material, analysis of local mutual aid network channels, and municipal social media accounts, the study shows that working class people have waged criticisms of the Putin regime and their local administration in Mariupol and Alchevsk in the limited form of making claims to promised better “Russian” social citizenship – statist stability and protection, access to basic amenities like food, water, heating, child benefits, urban infrastructures. However, working people in Donbass are confronted with Russia’s own neoliberal regime of accumulation, which is disguised by Soviet social citizenship language but incorporates new hetero-nationalist features.