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or thousands of years, humankind had recognized the existence of different cultures, tribes, and communities. These came to become today’s huge cities that represent our society. During the last century, the world has done a great job at putting on the map every small tribe in existence on this earth, yet there is a country that is considered to not exist even if people are living and breathing in it.

Our society is great, but sometimes it fails to be united with the rest of the world and therefore fails to take into consideration others just because they are a little different or in this case “in a war of their own”. The world has failed for the past 25 years to recognize Transnistria as a country, therefore world leaders act as if it does not exist.

You may have never heard about this country and this is because the world does not really know about it nor care enough to talk about it. Transnistria or also known as the Prindestrovskaia Moldavskaia Republic is a country located between Moldova and Ukraine.

History of Transnistria

Map showing Transnistria located between Moldova and Ukraine (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

During the Soviet Union era, Today’s Transnistria was just another patch of communist land that was considered to be part of Moldova, but Moldova itself had been quite sketchy as during the Soviet Union era it had its ownership passed to different countries such as Hungary, Romania, Germany and obviously the Soviet Union.

In 1989 when the Soviet Union started to collapsed and with it so did communism within Eastern Europe, the country was left with no ruling and Ukraine was fighting a political war with Moldova over the ownership of the land. The people on that patch of land didn’t want to be either part of Ukraine or Moldova, they wanted to be part of their own country, that is why in 1990 they created Transnistria.

Flag of Transnistria (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The first thing that was set in place was a strong military force to make sure that they would be forced by neither Ukraine nor Moldova to become part of their country. During the first years, a Unitary Semi Presidential political system was set in place that worked out a deal with Ukraine and Moldova. Ukraine imports goods from Transnistria with documents processed by Moldovan customs offices and vice versa as part of their deal.

For the first 5 years since the country had been founded, Ukraine thought it was a Russian military outpost and that is why they tried to obstruct the country in whatever way they could until they found out what Transnistria was about. Interestingly enough, most of the political leaders that have formed Tranistria aren’t even native, they are either Moldovian or Ukrainian.

Transnistria is not really democratic, not really capitalist, and not really communist. The best way to describe it is actually a mix of all three that make their political system work quite well based on the economical evolution from the last 5 years. The way the government works is through a unicameral legislature which consists of a single chamber of houses, something that is very common in American politics.

One of the things that have been noticed by visitors to this country is the amount of patrolling soldiers around the country which is a resemblance to how it used to be in the Soviet Union. Today, the country is only recognized by Moldova, Romania, Belarus, and Ukraine as a country, the rest of the world does not agree. Russia stayed quite neutral, it does not agree either disagree, in other words, it does not really care or want to get involved.

Social and Political implications

Transnistria is also named the modern Soviet Union by some historians due to how authentic the people, lifestyle, and place are to the Soviet Union that it once was. Many people from Eastern Europe have recently started visiting Trasnistira, especially those from Russia who are looking for a nostalgic trip to the Soviet Union. Many of the public services, restaurants, schools, and other venues have been left exactly as they were 30 years ago in the Soviet era.

Although the youth has a different view on the situation, most of the elders and adults that have lived during the Soviet era mention that they loved the communist lifestyle and that they lived a good life.

Even now a more socialist approach is seen within the country as it makes most of the products that the population consumes and the rest are either procured from Ukraine or Moldova. People here would love to be more independent, especially when the world does not recognize them as a country. Russia has been financially helping Transnistria to grow and although some may say this is just for them to look in the media, Ukraine is worried as within the deal that Transnistria and Russia made, Russia is allowed to bring their troops on Transnistria soil, this could possibly make Transnistria the new Crimea.

Besides any other Easter European political and social implications, I have a big problem here and I presume so will you once you have read this article. The problem is that it has been almost 30 years since the foundation of Transnistria and most of the states in this world don’t want to recognize it as a country, they don’t even want to put it on the world map.

Government office building in Tiraspol, Transdniestria, Moldova with a statue of Lenin in front (photo taken in 2020) (Source: Richardfabi)

Could it be because the world does not want to have anything to do with a “potential” communist-sided country? Looking at the country today and comparing it to the photos from the 1980s Easter Europe there is simply no difference. The Government office in the capital of Transnistria (Tiraspol) has kept its communist aesthetics, especially with the tallest statue of Lenin in front.

It is a poor, small country, but that does not make it insignificant. If we look at international legislation we can see that there is no reason for it not to be considered a country. For a country to become a country it has to tick 4 specific criteria set out by The Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States was a treaty signed at Montevideo, Uruguay, on December 26, 1933:

  • A permenet population
  • A defined territory
  • A government
  • The capacity to enter into relations with the other states

Some may say that they do not tick the last criteria, but that is not because Transnistria does not have the ability to enter in relations with other states, that is because most states treat it as if it does not exist on this planet. Some states take the country as a joke, especially when it comes to their currency that had been described as “money from a monopoly board game”.

Transnistrian coins (Source: Go Transnistria)

Their Trasnistirain Ruble coins are made out of plastic, but there is good reasoning behind them. The plastic coins make it easier for the whole population who mostly pay via cash. Another interesting thing about the coins is that they are made in different shapes so that blind people know how much the coin in their hand is worth. So before taking the country as a joke, maybe actually look at how ingenious their monetary system is compared to other western countries.

Moldova is small enough, so why should we consider Trasnistria a country? This is the argument I most often see and to that, I only have one response. Sealand, which is considered to be the smallest country in the world set on an old World War II defensive post on the sea had been recognized by the world as a country.

A country with a population of around 6 people and no real government nor truly a permanent territory was considered by the world a real country, but the world would not consider Transnistria, a country with almost half a million residence a country, to me is quite outrages, but nothing surprising from today’s society.

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