Tiraspol is the capital of the disputed territory of Transnistria (or Trans-Dniester), land now located officially in Moldova. To explain the situation shortly, “the land after the Dniester river” (which is what the name literally means) has been, along with the rest of Moldova, part of the USSR, but as opposed to Moldavians, the Transnistrians did not want to split from the union and they do not consider themselves to be part of the nation of Moldova. Therefore, in 1990, they declared themselves independent from Moldova and created their own government – one of the last comunist rules still remaining, their own parliament, military, currency and legislation, border police etc. Transnitria is officially recognised only by one country as an independant state and that is Russia, which also offers support in the relationship between Moldova and Trans-Dniester. This relationship is currently stable and things have calmed down since the 1992 war between the two parties. Moldova respects the administrative independence of the area, but the territory is kept dependent on Moldova economically, Moldova having a monopol over any sort of trade – all trading businesses of the territory must be registered also in Moldova and pay the Moldavian taxes.
We went there as a part of our trip to Moldova and Ukraine over the Christmas break, two and a half countries in one week. We were warned that we might have difficulties crossing the border, especially me, as a Romanian citizen. Why so? Some Romanians are claiming Moldova as their own territory, as it used to be part of the country between the two world wars; the main argument is the common language we share. However, Trans-Dniestrians have a much bigger Russian herritage and wish to dissociate from Romanians. We were lucky and did not have any problems at the border crossing. However, we didn’t want to draw attention to ourselves in a close-to-empty city, with no tourists, but lots of military and so we used our phones for taking some discreet photos around the city of Tiraspol, that is the reason for the lower quality of the photos above.
Trans-Dniester is definitely one of the most alien-like places I have ever been to. There is a feeling of loneliness and sadness all around the streets of Tiraspol. You can read in a following article about the Things that Shocked me About Transnistria.