News / Europe

Will EU Surround Russian-Speaking Island in Eastern Europe?

Will EU Surround Russian-Speaking Island in Eastern Europe?i
X
October 25, 2013 8:28 PM
Moldova and Ukraine, two former Soviet republics, seem to be starting to work toward eventual membership in the European Union. But sandwiched between them is a breakaway splinter of a region that says "no." VOA's James Brooke reports from Transdniester, the Russian-speaking secessionist region of Moldova.
James Brooke
Moldova and Ukraine, two former Soviet republics, seem to be starting to work toward eventual membership in the European Union. But sandwiched between them is a breakaway splinter of a region that says "no." Transdniester is the Russian-speaking secessionist region of Moldova.
 
From a Russian Orthodox monastery, the bells ring out across flat farmland.

In the capital, a Lenin statue greets visitors to the local Supreme Soviet. The central square is dominated by a statue of a czarist general on horseback. And a golden hammer and sickle embellishes the red flag of Transdniester.

This looks like a corner of Russia. But as the map on a local bottle of vodka shows, Transdniester is a long, skinny strip of land, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine.

Moldovan Prime Minister Iurie Leanca says it is a breakaway region of his country. “We are unfortunately still hosting this protracted conflict it so does not make us happy at all. It shows we still have a wound that it still bleeding,” he said.

But here in Transdniester, Russian-speaking locals say they fought a generation ago to win independence from Romanian-speaking Moldova.

  • The Dniester River divides Moldova's majority Romanian-speaking heartland on the West bank, from its majority Russian-speaking region on the East bank. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Once in Transdniester, Latin letters vanish, and everything -- in Russian and Romanian, is written with Cyrillic letters. This billboard with the 'national' emblem reads: "Transdniester: Created for Survival!" (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Lenin with a cape, sometimes called "Batman Lenin" stands outside Transdniester's Supreme Soviet, or parliament building. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • In central Tiraspol, a memorial to the fallen in Transdniester's war for independence in the spring of 1992. Russian troops tipped the balance in favor of Trasndniester and there has been no fighting since. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • The war memorial honors Transdniester's dead, about half of the 1,500 people who died during the five-month war of secession in 1992. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • A blind man plays Soviet songs on his accordion. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • On Saturdays, pensioners gather in a park to sell momentos, many from the days of their Soviet youth. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Kvint exports Transdniester's best known products -- brandy and vodka. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • At a Kvint store, a saleswoman shows a vodka bottle with a label outlining Transniester's stringbean shape. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Off the beaten track, a small ferry, guided by a steel cable, takes cars and trucks across the Dniester River. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • The leaders of Russian-speaking Transdniester declared a regional holiday on Sept. 9 to celebrate the visit from Moscow of Kirill I, the Russian Orthodox Patriarch. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Viewed from halfway up Moldova's highest bell tower, the 19th century Noul Neamt Monastery glows in the late afternoon autumn sun of Kitskani. (Vera Undritz for VOA)
  • Built in 1538 by the Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent, the Bender fortress still dominates a Transdniester enclave on the west bank of the Dniester River. (Vera Undritz for VOA)

Outside the new Hotel Rossia, Vladimir Yastrebchak, the region’s former ‘foreign minister,’ thanks Moscow for its support.

“Really the Russian Federation is our main strategic partner for more than 20 years, I mean for almost the whole period of Transdniester’s sovereign existence,” he said.

Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin visited Moldova last month. He warned that Russian troops will guarantee Transdniester’s autonomy.

He warned that Moldova has to take Transdniester into account when making decisions that will effect people on both sides of the Dniester River.

Moscow worries that at a meeting next month in Vilnius, Lithuania, Moldova and Ukraine will move toward membership in the European Union.
 
Ernest Vardanean, a journalist from Transdniester, said, “If Ukraine signs and ratifies the documents in Vilnius and after Vilnius, and if Moldova moves the same way, I guess that Transnistria will get many trouble because it will be pressed... it will be sandwiched between two pro-European countries.”

Since the Soviet collapse, as much as half of Transdniester’s working-age population has left - to work in Russia, or in the West.
 
Moldova’s prime minister said jobs and development eventually can reunite Moldova’s two language groups, now separated by the Dniester river.
 
“We need to show those living on left bank of the Dniester River. We are capable of building a political social economic system that is attractive for them as well," said Leanca. "Because just a few years ago, the roads on the right bank were as bad on the left bank, the migration was as high here as on the right bank, the health care was unattractive on either side.”

But for now, Transdniestrans seem happy to live as Russia’s lost colony in Central Europe.

You May Like

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Sergei from: New Zealand
October 27, 2013 9:38 PM
Expel them all to Russia, together with Lenin's idol and hammer and sickle. They're but a handful of people (in subdivision of the British India a population of more than 14 million was exchanged between India and Pakistan) and totally unfit to live in EU. Let's hope in a century or two the civilized world will be able to welcome Russians to the family... but not yet.


by: Voareader from: USA
October 27, 2013 11:34 AM
A map would have been helpful.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid