Saturday, 13 July 2013

A journey across Transnistria

My first visit to Transnistria followed on from a field visit to Moldova, once one of the wine production regions of the Soviet central planning system.  Moldova is holder of a Guinness World record for the largest single underground wine storage area –over 200 km of tunnels - Yes 200 km.
Moldova had gained its independence with the fall of communism and turned toward Romania as its bridge to the west whilst moving to the Latin script. The  Russian minority objected and a short war in 1992 ensued with Russia invited in as peacekeepers. 

The result is Transnistria a small section of eastern Moldova across the Nistria River which has remained determinedly Russian. 

It is not a recognised state and appears more Russian than Russia itself. Entering the capital Tiraspol was quite literally stepping back in time to another era.

Travel across the border is reasonably straightforward and Transnistrians appear to be able to travel to Moldova without any problems. However as it is only recognised by a few equally marginal states such as South Ossetia and Abkhazia you are likely to be without consular support if you have a problem.

If you are in the region it is certainly worth the detour to step into one of the 21st century's unresolved political dilemmas.  

The people are polite and always excited to try out their English language skills as travellers are a rarity.  The one thing Transnistria is not geared up for is tourism.  Chisinau to Tiraspol to Odessa is in the summer a journey through soviet history in the region.