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Transinistria, the Area Between Moldova and Ukraine (nationalgeographic.com)
39 points by atsaloli 37 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 57 comments



It seems like Transnistrians would generally prefer independence to the status quo. (Whether they would prefer joining Russia even more is a different question). Moldova would prefer to integrate it into Moldova. Everyone in the international community - including those aligned with Russia, such as Belarus, Serbia, and Russia itself - officially opposes independence, and in practice approves of the current situation even if they occasionally speak in favour of Moldova's position.

Why is this? It doesn't seem that the EU benefits from keeping the status quo of heavy Russian influence but de jure Moldovan ownership: if anything, an independent Transnistria might one day prefer to court the European sphere. Conversely, Russia should be happy to have an official ally in the region. The international-law disputes over who signed what treaty, 3 states ago, seem moot and trivial compared with the principle of self-determination. So why not give them what they seem to want?


Because Russia actually prefers status quo! It’s a way for them to have a hand in actual country’s (in this case Moldova) inner politics. They are pushing “you’re not hearing us” agenda and are trying to convert the region to autonomous republic inside a parent country with a veto-like rights to have even more influence.

It’s a way to prevent parent country aligning with the Western world.

Also, it’s a known enormous money-laundering hole for Russia’s government schemas.


> The international-law disputes over who signed what treaty, 3 states ago, seem moot and trivial compared with the principle of self-determination.

Here lies the flaw in your thinking. An obvious issue is that Transnistrian secession would impinge on Moldovan sovereignty. This is similar to how Catalonia is not allowed to secede from Spain. Some counterexamples are Kosovo seceding from Serbia (supported by USA and UN because of Serbia's terrible international standing at that moment, specifically because of the ethnic cleansing employed by the Serbian government and army in the war) and Algeria seceding from France (which the French agreed to to end the Algerian War). So I think the reason for Transnistria not being recognized is that Moldova is in relatively good international standing (at least compared to Serbia around the time of the Kosovo War), thus no internationally recognized country wants to attack Moldova's sovereignty, for kind of the same reasons that most people try not to break any laws. (And those that would be willing to "break the law" presumably have nothing to gain from it.)

Also see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Self-determination

> The principle does not state how the decision is to be made, nor what the outcome should be, whether it be independence, federation, protection, some form of autonomy or full assimilation. Neither does it state what the delimitation between peoples should be—nor what constitutes a people. There are conflicting definitions and legal criteria for determining which groups may legitimately claim the right to self-determination.


The other difference between Moldova and Serbia is that there's specific precedent pertaining to the matter.

Transnistria was not Moldova's only ethnic separatism conflict; there was also Gagauzia, which similarly declared independence, but that conflict was resolved without shooting. Moldova promised significant autonomy, and, for the most part, did deliver on those promises.

And then you contrast that with how Serbia treated Albanians in Kosovo when it was a part of their country...


The principal of self-determination gets tricky when you try to figure out how it applies in a given situation. The key sticking point - how do you group up the people for determining who the 'self' is for self determination.

We can all probably agree that a single person can't decide to secede and form their own one person nation. What about a 200 person village? A 100,000 person city? What about a 35 million population province?

Even if Transnistrians want to be an independent state, having the rest of Moldova overrule them does not mean they aren't having self-determination automatically.


A very different style of presentation, but if you want to get a more close-up view of Transdniestria, [this video by bald and bankrupt][1] is worth a watch.

[1]: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kVnrqBb6y4


You beat me to it. His channel is just chock full of awesome videos that go way beyond tourist traps.


Woah he seems to speak Russian? And quite well, too. Really admire any non-native Russian speakers.


"This place hasn't changed since the Soviet Union" in reference to a bar.

Except there weren't any bars in the Soviet Union, at least not for regular people. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teZw4-trPuE If you really want to know about the Soviet Union, watch Ushanka Show.

(And in case you watch this and he says the meat markets are just like the Soviet Union, let's get it out of the way that there wasn't much fresh meat available in the Soviet Union for ordinary people either. But that's another Ushanka Show episode.)


Well, now russians on this site know you're a liar


A liar?

Soviet Union had bars common people went to?

(Answer: no. My parents lived in the USSR until they were in their mid-30s and _never_ went to a bar. And they had means. Bars simply did not exist for non-Westerners. Beer was sold in the streets and in liquor stores you could get beer/wine/vodka). See the Ushanka show link for confirmation of this, unless Sergei is also a liar.

Soviet Union had grocery stores where you could go and buy fresh cuts of beef?

(Answer: no. Beef in the USSR was usually old milk cows that got slaughtered. People generally didn't eat steaks like they do in The West, because old milk cows aren't good for that. Steaks were unheard of. If you got beef, you made zharkoye. People ate lots of pork. Fun fact: pork is still more expensive than beef in Ukraine). If you wanted fresh, good meat, you had to buy from a vendor directly at a bazaar. Stores had chicken and canned fish.

Source: my life until I was 5, my parents until they were 35, my grandparents until they were in their 60s. Also see Ushanka Show.


It was still the USSR in 1990, and bars certainly existed by then.


Could you elaborate for non-Russians?


After a quick Web search:

https://www.rbth.com/arts/history/2017/07/28/soviet-hangover...

> Bartender of Gambrinus bar, 1967

> Bars only began opening in the seventies. Even the word "bar" itself was a novelty, and sounded Western to people. These joints tended to be pretty simple inside, serving draft beer, bar snacks, and even American cigarettes if you were lucky. During the anti-alcohol campaign of 1985, bars were allowed to remain open as beer was considered a far less evil than vodka.

Similar situation with meat, often there were shortages of meat, but it's not like people ate meat only rarely in the USSR, as far as I understand.


But they did eat meat rarely, if you're talking about Western style meat eating. Soviet people ate a lot of canned meat (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tushonka) and a lot of smoked/cured sausages and baloney-style products. The availability of meat in the USSR was nothing like it is now in present-day Russia or The West.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fa6btjwdKTc


The current situation is designed by former sovjet leadership who chose to draw their internal borders for administrational units or "oblasts" in such a manner that a eventual secession of said region would naturally result in a instable faction or nation. Speaking of such happenings we should also not forget that a large chunk of the soviet small arms industry was concentrated in Transnistria and for strategical reasons. Even today to occupy that region coerces military eyes to focus at a tiny gap between Belarus and the Baltic states in case of a conventional land war. A scenario in favor of Russia due to their occupation of Koningsberg where they have installed advanced AA weapon systems, among other things. The Soviet Union was never fully beaten and the KGB was merely renamed "United Russia".


The (in)famous hacker & troll, weev, lives in Transnistria, at the moment.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Weev#After_prison


>He was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison[34] and ordered to pay $73,000 in restitution.[49] Just prior to his sentencing, he posted an "Ask Me Anything" thread on Reddit;[50] his comments, such as "I hope they give me the maximum, so people will rise up and storm the docks" and "My regret is being nice enough to give AT&T a chance to patch before dropping the dataset to Gawker. I won't nearly be as nice next time", were cited by the prosecution the next day in court as justification for the sentence.[51]

Dear god what did I read?

>On April 11, 2014, the Third Circuit issued an opinion vacating Auernheimer's conviction, on the basis that the New Jersey venue was improper,[56] since neither Auernheimer, his co-conspirators, nor AT&T's servers were in New Jersey at the time of the data breach. While the judges did not address the substantive question on the legality of the site access, they were skeptical of the original conviction, noting that no circumvention of passwords had occurred and that only publicly accessible information was obtained.[59] He was released from prison on April 11, 2014.[60]

How incompetent do you have to be to arrest someone over something that isn't a crime, and also screw up the case so badly that you'd have to release him even if it was?


> How incompetent do you have to be to arrest someone over something that isn't a crime, and also screw up the case so badly that you'd have to release him even if it was?

I don't know, indicting, charging, and convicting someone in a federal court without proper venue when the charged act probably isn't a crime would seem like it would take an extraordinary combination of both competence and malfeasance from the prosecutor. Incompetence would lead you to fail even without the impediments of “not a crime” and “not a court in which venue is proper”.


The US system is set up to arrest everyone and keep them locked up indefinitely as slave labor (literally true - the 13th amendment allows for slavery in prisons).

I'd say that you have to be pretty incompetent to still lose with that system in place.


Defendant here. There was not an ounce of incompetence in this prosecution. It was pure malice.


I have to say I'm both fascinated and horrified by your wiki page. It's like reading about a modern Black Beard.

How much of your alt-right support is shock value and how much is genuine?


I do not support the alt-right at all. Those people are all losers. My sole interest is supporting liberty and opposing censorship.


Pity and ironic that you lean on nazi ideology, racism, anti-semitism, and white supremacy to solve our problems with liberty and free speech.


Up until the widespread purge of Bernie bros this year (Chapo and Cumtown reddit bans, etc) it is the only thing that was censored at any significant scale. If you care about free speech you have to promote ideas people want to suppress.


> Up until the widespread purge of Bernie bros this year (Chapo and Cumtown reddit bans, etc) it is the only thing that was censored at any significant scale

No true. There is a laundry list of things that have been censured for ages in organized societies. It's odd how you choose to make a point by pretending to be a neo-Nazi and not something like... oh I don't know, why don't you pretend to be a pedophile. Or since you are In Eastern Europe, gay? I'm sure the people of Serbia, Ukraine, and Transnistria would celebrate you taking a stand for same-sex liberty and free speech and won't discriminate you for "gay propaganda".


There are openly gay events in all these countries and particularly of Serbia, their PM Ana Brnabić is literally a lesbian (and, even more astonishly, Croatian)

The myths you write about countries you've clearly never been to and like to write fanfic in your head about are quite amusing, but it doesn't change the fact that the US promises their citizens free speech by its Constitution and is functionally the source of all the world's liberties in that regard (it doesn't matter what country you are in, as long as you can host a statement in the US you can write about generally whatever). And in the US, right-wing ideas regarding racial characteristics and gender roles seem to be the only thing consistently deplatformed.


> The myths you write about countries you've clearly never been to and like to write fanfic in your head about are quite amusing

I was born and lived there for the first 30 years of my life ;-)

Your ability to change tune and deflect are next level so I'm gonna let you "win".


I visited in 2018. The weirdest experience was getting drunk on vodka with 4 locals and listening to them rant. They wanted #1 an end to local corruption (a common complaint all over the world) and #2 they wanted Putin to nuke the US.

I'm not really sure how serious they were about the nuke part but they really didn't like America.


I am from the same region and until now I did not get used to this. People live surrounded by dirt and corruption but they still don't like America as thou America is making that dirt and corruption. Also online, if someone points to something negative passing in Russia, Belarus, Transnistria, the usual response will be: "But look what is passing in US"


This has been happening for decades, not just online.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/And_you_are_lynching_Negroes


Yes, however in the past it was state propaganda as a response to criticisms of human rights violations

Now it's the response of normal people to someone also local criticising a local event, state of afairs, etc.


Every country does this at least to some extent.


I don't think they saw the corruption as necessarily connected. I think they were just pissed that the Soviet Union fell, cutting them off from the "homeland" and blamed America for that.

I reckon if Alaska became nominally independent and Canada became like a hostile Russian client state or something people living in Anchorage would feel similarly to transdniestrians.

Where are you from?


it can be a case of a negative selection, when eveybody not wanting a nuclear action were driven outside of the state. the ones who left, were forced to adapt to local propaganda.


This article has a real nauseating “I went to document the primitive natives” feel to it. Lines like:

> But when he was out on the street with his camera, something struck him about the way people reacted.

Make it sound like they’ve never seen a camera before. And surely there is more to the story than pictures of tanks and people in military uniforms?


> “It was strange,” he says. “Nobody was happy. But nobody was pissed off.”

More of general Eastern European mood :)


I don't get this to be honest. It did strike me as a weird line a well. In any country I've been it's not like I've seen people react in any specific way to me taking photos. A person uses a camera while the rest of the world goes on seems... extremely normal?


It’s a Russia-backed puppet state, the same as Abkhazia (same period of time), South Ossetia (2008), or a newer DNR/LNR (2014). It’s not people that decided to do something, it’s that big pile of shit country making life worse for them.


As someone who lived in proximity to this region, the issue is not exactly as black and white as you may feel.


Please enlighten us. You seem to know something about the subject; why stop at a 1-line dismissive comment?


Because slavic politics is a powder keg and you have to be extremely conservative about what you say for fear of angering somebody who might want to kill you for saying it.

Most of the people in Transnistria very much value their independent status, it allows them a degree of practical freedom in commerce that they would not have otherwise. They also typically are not limited by the nation's independent status as they also nearly universally hold Ukrainian or Moldovan citizenship in addition to Transnistrian.

Furthermore, the practical matter of it is that the PMR (Transnistria) military cannot hope to withstand say, a prolonged assault with the Ukrainian military. Though both Ukraine and Moldova officially declare Transnistria illegitimate and their rightful clay, extremely prominent and well connected people in both countries also greatly benefit from its existence. Lots of border and jurisdictional games to play. Nobody seriously wants it to go away.


Thank you for your helpful comment; in the spirit of reciprocity, by "their rightful clay," I _think_ you meant "their rightful soil" -- in which case, FYI, "soil" in particular is occasionally used to refer to "land" as in "native soil", ie "homeland". But "clay" doesn't work there, the idiom is strictly "soil". HTH! :)


I'm pretty sure rightful clay was a polandball reference.


You would be correct, and also clay rhymed easy with play and away and thus made the text have a nice, soft flow to it.


whoa; TIL


rabite AKA weev is american, so that was most likely on purpose.


Because it is a story worth a book, if all the context is to be included. I only replied to say that such conficts are almost always more complex than they seem on surface.

A very abridged version is that Transnistria independence is a result of war between two factions, and neither of them hold the moral high ground. After the fall of USSR in 1991 Moldovan nationalism became stronger and pushed for pro-Moldavian and pro-Romanian views even in the regions of that were historically dominated by Russian and Ukrainian population. Local population rebelled against that, and Russian state used this conflict to their advantage using 14th army, stationed there.

On a side note, Ukrainian and Russian nationalist volunteers also came to assistance of Transnistria against Moldova. Some of those people were fighting on the same side in 1992 only to be fighting against each other in 2014.

And here I stop. Because this scenario (ethnic minority region in a conflict with the rest of country) has happened multiple times in the history. Rarely one side is 100% right or wrong.


In that light, it's frustrating to hear concerns about the identity of those who live there. Even in literature, where it's arguably more possible to take a hopeful position than the present circumstances, puppets must undertake a long and difficult journey in order to secure a "real" identity...


It's not that simple in any of those cases (and add Crimea to your list.) Russia wouldn't be able to do what it does if there weren't severe grievances in play already.


Listening to people say that those regions are only there because of Russia is like listening to Serbs complain that Kosovo and Bosnia only exist because of the US.


DNR is only there because of Russia. I have a lot of relatives in the region and visited many times. There is no other reason except for Russia pushing “different identity” topic for decades. First with propaganda and collaborationists (money), then (more recently) military. It’s not a people’s republic.

I don’t know about Kosovo, but I know for sure about DNR. Transnistria is a crappy corruptionist hole for money laundering, there is nothing about people’s will there as well.


It has always struck me why DNR and LNR and not a single separatist region. Different mafias?


You as well may be one of Ukrainian propaganda workers from Odessa; there's no reason to believe you or trust your judgements


Look at my profile, lol.

Also, Ukrainian propaganda does not exist. It’s more of a for-hire services that work for whomever pays more, not for the state itself. It’s one of the reasons why shit like that happens, since there is no state-backed push against Russian agenda.


That was pretty much my impression after reading one of Andey Kurkov's books.


Russia (FSB) is really good at sowing dissent. We had a big Anti Covid protest in Poland last week. By Anti Covid they meant something totally different from what you might expect. Main slogan:

"Covid-19 - global lie! turn off TV - turn on thinking! Learn facts! take off your mask!"

https://oko.press/skrajna-prawica-organizuje-bunt-przeciwko-...

Organized by far rights, religious fringes, alternative medicine enthusiasts, conspiracy nuts, and a Russian 'psychic healer'.

Berlin had similar protest last month, organized with the help of their neo nazi party (AfD).




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