Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Wissam24 on Tue 18 Sep 2018, 10:36 am

On a real spur of the moment decision I booked a wine and booze tour to Moldova and Transnistria. I'll let you Google Transnistria, save myself writing out the full background, but it's a place virtually no one has ever heard of, a country that doesn't exist within the least visited country in Europe. The 2nd of September is the Transnistrian Day of the Republic, the biggest holiday on their calendar, and it seemed like a hell of a time to visit what, on the face of it, sounded like a time-locked, closed-off throwback, a European North Korea. A Soviet style military parade was planned, street parties and a lot of booze.

The truth is quite different. Yes, it's the only "country" that still has the hammer and sickle on its flag. Yes, the only other countries that recognise it are, themselves, unrecognised countries. Yes, physically it's stuck in the past, too poor to afford too many new buildings, the old Soviet cities somewhat dilapidated. Yes, I got KGB'd at one point. Tiraspol the capital was pretty flashy (relatively speaking), with some pretty good bars and restaurants but Bender, the other city, really was that "throwback". But it's far from closed off, the people have no restrictions from the outside world, as long as they can claim their Moldovan or Russian passport, no one is starving or really struggling. Hell, I've gained a lot of Transnistrian Instagram followers since I visited. The people there are just like anywhere else - if you suddenly landed there you wouldn't know you were anywhere especially remarkable. As tourists and English speakers, we got a lot of attention, all very curious and friendly, and we had many people come up to talk to us either in English or Russian (thankfully I spoke just a tiny bit of Russian which meant I made a lot of friends!). Republic Day was one great big street party. The parade was very cool to see if a little amateur, but the atmosphere throughout was extraordinarily good fun, I loved walking around seeing people getting hammered and having a good time.

Honestly, it wasn't what I was expecting, but not for any negative at all - it seems like a pretty amazing place to visit to me. The people are ethnically Russian, they align with Russian, but they know what the situation is, I don't think most are overtly nationalistic about Transnistria, especially the younger generation, who tend to go to Moldova or Ukraine fairly easily. No one seems to be under illusions about how everything really works (there's a fair lot of corruption there too) since they can all see what the world is like through the internet.

As a tourist from the UK, the price of everything there was unreal. To really put it in perspective, on the evening of the Republic Day, we went to a very flashy bar, by the looks of things the flashiest one in Tiraspol. Three glasses of wine, two glasses of whiskey and 12 50cl shots of vodka came to €12. Yes, twelve. And it was pretty good stuff too, the local distillery, Kvint, their main export after illegal munitions, produces some perfectly good drink. I was pretty drunk that night...apparently I ended up wandering off by myself chatting to random folks in a mix of pidgin Russian and English. I guess that shows how safe it is as well.

There's far more photos than just what I post here. Please check them out!

1.
ImageTiraspol Memorial to the Aviators (MiG-19 Farmer) by Sam Wise, on Flickr

2.
ImageTiraspol Memorial to the Aviators (MiG-19 Farmer) by Sam Wise, on Flickr

3.
ImagePobeda Park, Tiraspol by Sam Wise, on Flickr

4.
ImagePobeda Park, Tiraspol by Sam Wise, on Flickr

5.
ImagePobeda Park, Tiraspol by Sam Wise, on Flickr

6.
ImagePobeda Park, Tiraspol by Sam Wise, on Flickr

7.
ImageLenin Bust, House of the Soviets, Tiraspol by Sam Wise, on Flickr

8.
ImageTiraspol T-34-85 Memorial by Sam Wise, on Flickr

9.
ImageBabushka by Sam Wise, on Flickr

10.
ImageTiraspol Parliament House and T-34-85 Memorial by Sam Wise, on Flickr

11.
ImageTransnistrian Spirits by Sam Wise, on Flickr

12.
ImageTiraspol Building by Sam Wise, on Flickr

13.
ImageTiraspol Bus by Sam Wise, on Flickr

14.
ImageNoul Neamt Monastery Monks by Sam Wise, on Flickr

15.
ImageNoul Neamt Monastery by Sam Wise, on Flickr

16.
ImageGiant Lenin Bust by Sam Wise, on Flickr

17.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldier by Sam Wise, on Flickr

18.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

19.
ImageTransistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

20.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

21.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

22.
ImageTransistrian Locals by Sam Wise, on Flickr

23.
ImageTransnistrian Soldier Receives Medical Attention by Sam Wise, on Flickr

24.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

25.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

26.
ImageParade Crowd by Sam Wise, on Flickr

27.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

28.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldiers, Military Parade by Sam Wise, on Flickr

29.
ImageTransnistrian Army Soldier by Sam Wise, on Flickr

30.
ImageHead of Transnistrian Military Police by Sam Wise, on Flickr

31.
ImageRepublic Day Street Crowd by Sam Wise, on Flickr

32.
ImageTransnistrian Locals by Sam Wise, on Flickr

33.
ImageTransnistrian Veteran by Sam Wise, on Flickr

34.
ImageTransnistrian Army T-72 Tank by Sam Wise, on Flickr

35.
ImageTransnistrian Army T-72 Tank by Sam Wise, on Flickr

36.
ImageBuying at a Stand by Sam Wise, on Flickr

37.
ImageTraditional Dress by Sam Wise, on Flickr

38.
ImageTransnistrian Flags by Sam Wise, on Flickr

39.
ImagePobeda Park by Sam Wise, on Flickr

40.
ImageBeer Seller by Sam Wise, on Flickr

41.
ImageUmbrellas by Sam Wise, on Flickr

42.
ImageZeleny Market by Sam Wise, on Flickr

43.
ImageGeneral Suvorov Monument by Sam Wise, on Flickr

44.
ImageRepublic Day Street by Sam Wise, on Flickr

45.
ImageOrthodox Church by Sam Wise, on Flickr

46.
ImageBender Street by Sam Wise, on Flickr

47.
ImageSoviet Train by Sam Wise, on Flickr

48.
ImageSoviet Stairs by Sam Wise, on Flickr

49.
ImageSoviet Train by Sam Wise, on Flickr

50.
ImageSoviet Train by Sam Wise, on Flickr

51.
ImageUrban Notices by Sam Wise, on Flickr

52.
ImageThoughtful Child by Sam Wise, on Flickr

53.
ImageTransformer by Sam Wise, on Flickr

54.
ImageSoviet Style Market by Sam Wise, on Flickr

55.
ImageBender Building by Sam Wise, on Flickr

56.
ImageFormer Soviet Bus Station by Sam Wise, on Flickr

57.
ImageFormer Soviet Bus Station Map by Sam Wise, on Flickr
Twitter: @samwise24 | Flickr: samwise24 | Shamelessly copying LN Strike Eagle's avatar ideas since 2016
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Wissam24
UKAR Staff

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Southendnick on Tue 18 Sep 2018, 11:33 am

Really very interesting set thanks for posting
Spelling mistakes and grammatical error specialist

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Southendnick

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Draken on Tue 18 Sep 2018, 11:42 am

Oh wow! Amazing report. Very colorful and crisp images. Lovely uniforms - especially these traditional ones (pic 28) - kind of "Napoleon" style.
Pic 20 is awesome :)
Thanks for sharing!
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Draken

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Amp on Thu 20 Sep 2018, 8:02 pm

Sam, great images of what sounds like a fun trip. Do they have their own passports (passport stamp), postage stamps and defined border? Interesting to read about too. Should we assume the delightful Mig-19 is the only aviation item there?
Amp

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Wissam24 on Fri 21 Sep 2018, 11:03 am

They do have their own passports made from old Soviet stock (B&W photos!), but they only work at their own border checkpoints (Moldova neither recognises nor holds a border with them so the only border is Transnistrian) for their own citizens. If Transnistrians want to go outside Moldova, they need to get a Russian or Moldovan passport (easy to do and fairly common with young people). As they have no legal authority to stamp your passport they give you an entry and exit card (I kept the exit card). If they stamped your passport they'd be defacing it! But getting in is no problem at all, we simply got the Odessa train in the morning from Chisinau, rocked up at Tiraspol station and handed our passports over to the immigration booth there (they didn't keep them). To be honest we could've just walked past and they'd have been none the wiser, but obviously that has the potential to cause problems! I really want to stress that it's not closed off at all, just in a weird situation.

The only aviation thing I saw, but on Google Maps at least there are a bunch of airframes at the airport/base outside Tiraspol, which I assume are non-flyers. The guide said they occasionally send a couple of what his description suggested were An-2s up to drop troops. Suffice to say I'm going to be speaking to him again about such things...
Twitter: @samwise24 | Flickr: samwise24 | Shamelessly copying LN Strike Eagle's avatar ideas since 2016
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Wissam24
UKAR Staff

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Georgeconna on Fri 21 Sep 2018, 11:36 am

very interesting shots Sam. Never heard of the place.

I had colourful neightbours from Moldova living next to me for 2 years. Nothing like seeing in their Garden on a Sunday AM a line up of chickens tied together and then proceeding to get there heads removed with an axe and then later flies swarming over the split blood. ah Multiculturalism is great eh. Thank Christ they moved away
Cheers

George

Zero shows for 2018 Giving in a Rest.
Georgeconna

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Stagger2 on Sun 23 Sep 2018, 12:44 pm

Sounds like my Flat used to be next to KFC! :wink:
Stagger2

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Ewart on Mon 01 Oct 2018, 4:20 pm

Really enjoyed this report. The wife seems interested in the cost of the booze, although I bet they could drink me under the table.
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Ewart

Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Ian G on Tue 16 Oct 2018, 12:51 pm

Only just got around to looking, wow! Amazing images of somewhere I never knew existed.
Ian Garfield Photography Website!

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I should probably be working. Will work for doughnuts.
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Re: Transnistria, the country that doesn't exist

Postby Wissam24 on Thu 18 Oct 2018, 9:32 am

I'm yearning to go back, if I'm honest. Feel like there's all the more to see!
Twitter: @samwise24 | Flickr: samwise24 | Shamelessly copying LN Strike Eagle's avatar ideas since 2016
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