Tuesday, December 12, 2006

A contemporary Soviet territory: Transnistria

Little is known about the Trans-Dniester Moldovan Republic, often referred to (by those who have heard of it before) as Pridnestrovie or Transnistria. The reason for which it is not known worldwide is very simple: It is not recognized internationally as a sovereign entity.
This territory comprises a tiny strip of land limited by the Dniester river to the west, and the Ukrainian boundary to the east, north and south. The total area of this strip is 4,163 km², and the largest city, Tiraspol, is claimed to be the capital.
Although in 1990 it declared its independence, followed by a series of bloody battles in the region, this unrecognized republic constitutes today an autonomous region in Moldova.
But what makes such place interesting? Regardless of the political disputes that surround it, it seems to be a very well hidden bastion of the Soviet era. The proclaimed flag for this territory resembles a lot the one that waved on the Soviet hoists, as also does the coat of arms; some of the tourist attractions include a Soviet tank in the central square of Tiraspol and a monument of Lenin right in front of the parliament buildings; the communications, mass media, and education system are controlled by the Transnistrian authorities, and yet the government is run by people who were formerly appointed by the USSR to rule the area.
I don't know whether the self proclamation of this territory was to defend some Soviet ideas or only to show the inconformity of people living there with the Moldovan nationalism and its close relationship to Romania; however, the truth is that this de facto republic, submerged in poverty (if it was recognized as an independent republic, it would have the lowest GDP per capita in Europe), corruption, and organized crime, is starting to allow private businesses to operate and grow. So even some of the Soviet traces are gradually vanishing from here. But still, in a referendum celebrated this year (non recognized internationally, and for which there is a dispute on its credibility), there exists a popular will to be recognized as a republic totally independent from Moldova.
Please note that I'm not for or against the recognition of this place as a separate nation, and although I don't share communist or Soviet ideas, it is one of the curiosities of our world, isn't it?


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