By Cobin Szymanski | TRANSNISTRIA
The iridescent steel rod is smashed against the anvil, the sound resonating throughout the shop. The repetitive yet, elegant motion of creating a masterpiece continues to be exemplified throughout the day. The sweat begins to drip down the worker’s necks in a steady stream. This work is ubiquitous here in a country frozen in time. When the day ends the workers gather in the breakroom with comradery as high as ever and walk home. Their homes line a quaint street in the country’s capital Tiraspol. The sun is just beginning to set over this country that thousands call home. Their country is beautiful in all aspects yet lacks one thing others possess, existence.
When Mikhail Gorbachev became the president of the former Soviet Union he created a policy called perestroika meaning,”Reform” many independence movements reached their inception. The country of Transnistria was not an outlier, they began fervently protesting for independence which subsequently lead to conflict. The war started in August 1991 with pro-independence Transnistrians impeding the Moldovan military from crossing the bridge at Lunga. the Moldovan military was attempting to traverse the bridge to split Transnistria in half. Two attempts were made to cross the bridge with 16 being wounded and three deaths. The same day that Moldova gained independence the war was commenced. The war lasted until 1992 casualties were minuscule but the hope of Transnistrian independence was decimated. The ceasefire with Moldova was led by Russia which set up Transnistria for a future of “Russian” intervention.
They declared their de-facto independence from Moldova in 1990 largely with the encouragement of Russia. The state has now become a vexing post-soviet frozen state ironically managed by Russia. There is a large and foreboding presence of Russian troops in Transnistria another symbol signifying Russian influence in the area. The Russian military presence in transition certainly makes Moldova quite perturbed for Transnistria remains a part of Moldova according to the E.U. This irksome issue has lead to international talks and quite a few political escalations between the country. Transnistria certainly is not dismayed by Russias presence, in fact, they welcome it for in 2015 a referendum was held to discuss joining Russia. The Soviet-era statues of Vladimir Lenon are conspicuous in a square in Tiraspol demonstrating that Transnistria is a state that will not forget its heritage.
The state of Transnistria is not recognized by the U.N or any other country except three fellow unrecognized soviet states. Due to this fact, many of Transnistria political and economic relationships are rather convoluted and enigmatic. For instance, if an economic interaction were to take place between Ukraine and Transnistria it would warrant Moldova’s approval. Further, Moldova has passed a bill that has stated that Transnistria is an autonomous state whose proprietor is Moldova. Hence, Transnistria has denied any power of Moldova over Transnistria’s governance and named it a provocation.
The state of Transnistria is a self-proclaimed democratic state but scrutiny has been raised over the legitimacy of the democracy. In many cases the president of Transnistria is robust and all controlling over future elections. In spite of this, there is one thing that Transnistria can not bequeath to its beneficiaries, citizenship. While the self-proclaimed country of Transnistria is supposedly independent there is quite a conspicuous friendship between Russia and themselves. In fact, for over two decades Russia has moderated peace between Moldova and Transnistria by maintaining a large military presence. Some estimates of the troop count range up to 1500 people. This has lead to international condemnation and sparked international conflict.
The future of Transnistria is uncertain but many are looking forward instead of back to the past. The citizens of Transnistria remain quite fervent in their proclamation of independence and the sense of nationalism high. The Transnistrian economy is quite stable with large exports of steel and agricultural products. With imposing statues of Vladimir Lenin and Karl Marx it is quite confounding that Transnistria constitutes a capitalistic economy. With economic prosperity on the rise and a looming Russian presence, the future is looking propitious.
While the state of Transnistria has faced war and bloodshed to arrive at its current state they are still not quite to the independence they yearn for. However, with Russian support and a prospering economy, the future is looking auspicious. In spite of the lack of recognition, one thing is for certain, the Transnistrian citizens will continue their zealous cries for independence until the very end.