Friday, 1 August 2008

Transdniestr in Moldova – breakaway Soviet state

When the Soviet Union broke up, the Transdniestr region of Moldova didn’t want to know about the new order and set about keeping things exactly the way they were. Following a civil war in the early 1990s, Transdniester declared itself independent. Though it is not recognised by any government, unscrupulous border guards, different currencies and frightening bureaucracy mean that any visitors need to treat it as such.
Strangely, Transdniestr seems to be acquiring a must-do status amongst a certain breed of travellers. While I was in the Ukraine, I met a few people that were eager to get to Moldova just so that they could try their luck in Transdniestr. But then again, I did meet them on a tour of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, so that could explain things.
By all accounts, it’s a bit dodgy, and anyone speaking English or wielding cameras and notepads is liable to come in for some special attention from hugely corrupt police and security forces.
But what else should they expect? Well... lots and lots of Lenin statues, Soviet era buildings and monuments in the capital, Tiraspol. Plus bribe-hungry border guards, instant suspicion of anyone with a camera and a sneaking feeling that the Cold War never ended.

1 comment:

Jerad Scott Tietz said...

My wife and I were held up at the Transnistria border when returning to Moldova from Odessa, Ukraine. It was the most humbling experience I've ever had. No possible way of getting support from your Embassy since the "country" doesn't officially exist, they took our passports and separated us for about 45 minutes.

We made it out alive though and ended up traveling to Tiraspol, which is a story of its own.

I would advise anyone seeking adventure in Transnistria to be very cautious and exercise good judgment. The guards will intimidate you and show no mercy, they don't joke around and you will have to pay if they stop you.

Bon voyage.

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