Ukraine’s Lawless Warzones Recede as Rebel Fighters Fall Back


Only a few of the residents of the city of Slavyansk had the misfortune of going down into the basement of the local security headquarters, but most people in eastern Ukraine had heard of its existence. It was underneath the redbrick building on Karl Marx Street where the Russian rebels had set up their command center. Since Slavyansk became the rebel citadel in April, the basement has housed a variety of prisoners inside its rank and moldy walls, from journalists and local politicians to unlucky locals. Over the weekend the last of them were finally released as the separatist fighters retreated from Slavyansk, leaving the basement behind as a symbol of the nightmare from which this city now seems to be awakening.

Many aspects of the fighting in this town of 120,000 made life unendurable over the last few months, which is why up to half of its residents have…

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