Transdniestr, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic
Each year, I aim to do a “mum with just one daughter”-trip. This way, each girl will get all the attention for a few days. In 2008, I took my oldest to Transdniestr.
Much as she might have preferred shopping in London for the umpteenth time, I’m drawn to the world’s more obscure places, so instead we went to Moldova to explore its chic capital Chisinau, the archaeological finds at Orheiul Vechi and, most importantly, to have a look at the non-existent country Transdniestr.
Wedged between Ukraine and Moldova, the breakaway Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, better known as Transdniestr or Transnistria, is still adhering to a Soviet system. This is a different world; a living museum of times gone by.
After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Moldova seriously considered joining Romania, much to the Transdniestrians chagrin. They have more in common with Ukraine and Russia, so after a brutal war in 1992, the region decided to break away, and declared its independence from Moldova.
The self-declared, break-away republic doesn’t officially exist. Yet there’s a Transdniestrian government, a Parliament, an army, a police force, a flag, a national anthem, currency and postage stamps.
Not internationally recognized, its citizens need Moldovan passports in addition to their 3-language Transdniestrian one.
Hearing horror stories of Transdniestr border patrol officers, we were pleasantly surprised when everything ran smoothly. Nobody demanded any bribes or anything.
Tiraspol, the capital, is a nice enough city. Wide, leafy avenues, imposing buildings, plenty of monuments and pretty churches.
Lenin in Transdniestr
In front of the Transdniestrian parliament, and elsewhere in town, Lenin still reigns supreme:
Yuri Gagarin, the world’s first man in space, is cherished as well:
Transdniestrian authorities select “best citizens” and their photos are displayed prominently. Some are selected for a year, some for life. President Igor Smirnov is found in the latter category.