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Transnistria

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Transnistria or Transdniester (Russian: Приднестровье, Pridn'estrov'ye; Romanian: Transnistria; referred to as Stnga Nistrului (Left Bank of the Nistru) by official Moldovan sources, Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika by Transnistrian official sources, and Moldavian Republic of Transnistria (MRT) by European organisms) is a breakaway entity from Moldova, in eastern Europe, between Moldova and Ukraine. The name comes from it being the area of Moldova east of the river Dniester (Nistru).

Republica Transnistria/Transdniester Respublika
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PridnestrovieFlag.gif
Flag of Transnistria

Coat of arms
(In Detail) (In Detail)
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Transnistria-map.png
Image:Transnistria-map.png


Administrative map of Moldova
with Transnistria highlighted in yellow
Languages Moldovan/Romanian, Russian and Ukrainian
Political status breakaway
Capital Tiraspol
President Igor Smirnov
Independence
 – Declared
 – Recognition
From Moldova
 September 2, 1990
 none
Area 3,567 km² (2001 est.)
Population 580,000 (2004 census)
Currency Transnistrian ruble
Time zone UTC +2
Internet TLD none
Calling Code 373 533
Contents

Political status

It is considered internationally to be part of Moldova, and previously part of the Moldavian SSR, but has declared independence as the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic, with Tiraspol as its capital. The region has a great ethnic diversity and a Romanian relative majority of 40%. The Russian-speaking local authorities put obstructions on the Romanians right to education and deny them the access to the Romanian mass-media. Arbitrary arrests against citizens, especially of Romanian ethnic origin, have likewise been reported.

At the time of a national awakening of Moldova, the entity on the left bank was conceived as a new Soviet republic. In the earlies 1990's, the Russians had some support from ethnic Ukrainians and even some Romanians in their fight against Moldova's authorities. After 1992, the Russian Federation gained the role of protector for this region.

See also:

History

Middle ages

In the early middle ages the region was populated by Slavic tribes of Ulichs and Tivertsy as well as at times by Turkic nomads such as Pechenegs and the Polovtsi , a part of Kievan Rus' at times, and a formal part of the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 15th century, the area came under the control of the Ottoman Empire in 1504. It was eventually ceded to the Russian Empire in 1792. At that time, the population was sparse and mostly Moldovan/Romanian and Ukrainian, but also including a nomadic Tatar population.

The end of the 18th century marked the Russian Empire's colonizationion of the region, with the aim of defending what was at the time the Imperial Russian south-western border, as a result of which large migrations were encouraged into the region, including people of Ukrainian, Russian, and German nationalities.

The Autonomous Republic

After the Russian Empire in desintegration lost Bessarabia in 1918, the region was part of the 'Moldavian Autonomous Oblast' created in 1922 in the Ukrainian SSR. The entity was transformed into an autonomous republic in 1923. Romanian speakers still made up a significant portion of the inhabitants of the region and Romanian-language schools were opened.

WWII

In 1940, the region was included with Bessarabia into the Moldavian SSR, while the Southern Bessarabia ("Bugeac") was included in the Ukrainian SSR. In 1941, after the Axis forces invaded Bessarabia in the course of the Second World War, they advanced over the Dniester river. Romania annexed the entire region between Dniester and Bug rivers. The Soviet Union regained the area in 1944 when the Soviet Army advanced into the territory driving out the Axis forces.

The Soviet Moldova

The Moldavian SSR, which was set up by a decision of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on 2 August 1940, was formed from a part of Bessarabia taken from Romania on 28 June 1940 following the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact between the USSR and Germany, where the majority of the population were Romanian speakers, and a strip of land on the left bank of the Dniestr in Ukrainian SSR, Transnistria, which was transferred to it in 1940 and is inhabited by a population whose linguistic composition in 1989, according to publicly available information, was 40% Moldavian, 28% Ukrainian, 24% Russian and 8% others.

To an even larger extent than under the Tsarist rule, the Moldovian SSR became again the subject of a systematic policy of Russification. Cyrillic was the official script for Romanian, called Moldavian. It had an official status in the republic, together with Russian, which was the language of "interethnical commnunication" and the official language of the entire Soviet Union.

Most industry that was built in the Moldavian SSR was concentrated in Transnistria, while the rest of Moldova had a predominantly agricultural economy. In 1990, Transnistria accounted for 40% of Moldova's GDP and 90% of its electricity production.

The 14th Soviet army has been based there since 1956 and was kept there after the fall of the Soviet Union to safeguard what is probably the biggest weapons stockpile and ammunition depot in Europe, which was set up in Soviet times for possible operations on the Southeastern Theater in the event of World War III. Russia is negotiating with the Republic of Moldova, Transdnistria and Ukraine for transit rights to be able to evacuate the military material back to Russia. In [1984]], the 14th Army headquarters were moved from Chisinau to Tiraspol.

The Breakaway

In August and September 1989, the Moldavian Supreme Soviet enacted two laws introducing the Latin alphabet for written Romanian (Moldavian) and making that language the countrys first official language, in place of Russian. On 27 April 1990 the Supreme Soviet adopted a new tricolour flag (red, yellow and blue) with the Moldavian heraldic device and a national anthem which, at that time, was the same as Romanias. On 2 September 1990 the "Moldavian Republic of Transnistria" ("the MRT") was proclaimed. On 25 August 1991 the "Supreme Council of the MRT" adopted the declaration of independence of the "MRT". To date, the "MRT" has not been recognised by the international community. On 27 August 1991 the Moldovan Parliament adopted the Declaration of Independence of the Republic of Moldova, whose territory included Transnistria. At that time the Republic of Moldova did not have its own army and the first attempts to create one took place a few months later. The Moldovan Parliament asked the Government of the USSR "to begin negotiations with the Moldovan Government in order to put an end to the illegal occupation of the Republic of Moldova and withdraw Soviet troops from Moldovan territory".

The Armed Conflict (1990 to 1992)

Armed clashes on a limited scale broke out between the Transnistrian separatists and the Moldovan police as early as November 1990 at Dubasari. During the following months the Transnistrian authorities created paramilitary units called workers detachments, on the basis of which a professional and fully-equipped Republican Guard was formed in 1991.

The Russian 14th Army's role in the area was crucial to the outcome of the war. Since it claimed to act as a peacemaker between the two sides, however it is widely believed that it aided the Transnistrian rebels. A large numbers of Cossacks and other Russian nationals went to Transnistria to fight alongside the separatists. With the support given by the troops of the 14th Army to the separatist forces and the massive transfer of arms and ammunition from the 14th Armys stores to the separatists, the Moldovan army was in a position of inferiority which prevented it from regaining control of Transnistria.

In December 1991 the Moldovan authorities arrested Lieutenant-General Iakovlev in Ukrainian territory, accusing him of helping the Transnistrian separatists to arm themselves by using the weapons stocks of the 14th Army. The authorities of the Russian Federation interceded with the Moldovan authorities to obtain the release of General Iakovlev.

At the end of 1991 and the beginning of 1992 violent clashes broke out between the Transnistrian separatist forces and the Moldovan security forces, claiming the lives of several hundred people.

On 5 April 1992, the Vice-President Rutskoy of the Russian Federation, in a speech delivered to 5,000 people in Tiraspol, incited the Transnistrian people to obtain their independence, under the protection of the Russian Operational Group (ROG) -the former 14th Army.

The conflict errupted then, and after the June direct intervention of ROG in Tighina, a ceasefire agreement was signed on 21 July. The broad lines of the agreement were drafted by the Russian side, which presented it for signature to the Moldovans. The official document was signed only by the presidents of Russia (Boris Yeltsin) and Moldova (Mircea Snegur).

The agreement provided for peacekeeping forces charged with ensuring observance of the ceasefire and security arrangements, composed of five Russian battalions, three Moldovan battalions and two Transnistrian battalions under the orders of a joint military command structure.

2004 Crisis

The Slavic cultural traditions for this region are kept and strengthened. Meanwhile, the Republic of Moldova as well as other international organizations allege that the local authorities are trying to deny the Latin script, an essential part of Moldavian language and culture. In summer of 2004, the Transnistrian authorities forcibly closed four schools that used Romanian language in Latin script, and several teachers and parents who opposed the closures were arrested. During the crisis, the Moldovan government decided to create a blockade that would isolate the autonomous republic from the rest of the country. Transnistria retaliated by a series of actions meant to destabilize the economic situation in Moldova, since, during the Soviet times, most of the power plants in Moldova were built in Transnistria, and as a result, this crisis generated power outages in parts of Moldova.

Currently the OSCE, with Russia and Ukraine as mediators are negotiating a settlement to the conflict. It is likely that the EU and the USA will join the settlement talks on Moldovan and Ukrainian requests.

Human Rights

The Republic of Moldova, as well as other foreign states and NGO's claim that the separatist government of Transnistria is authoritarian and has a poor human rights record, and is accused of arbitrary arrest and torture. Some organizations claim that the right of free assembly or association is not fully respected and that religious freedom is limited by withholding registration of religious groups, such as Baptists or Methodists.

The 2001 presidential elections were not considered free by some analysts and observers. Critics of the past elections claim that some parties and publications were banned just before the elections, and that the results were suspect, as in some regions it was reported that Igor Smirnov collected 103.6 percent of the votes.

The Republic of Moldova also accuses the MRT administration of organizing incursions into left bank villages controlled by the Moldovan government such as Vasilevca, which they claim also result in arbitrary arrests, beatings and sometimes even death.

In the case of Ilaşcu and Others v. Moldova and Russia (2004), the European Court of Human Rights held unanimously that Moldova and Russia are to take all necessary measures to put an end to the arbitrary detention of Ilie Ilascu Group members, Andrei Ivanţoc and Tudor Petrov-Popa, still imprisoned in Transnistria. The members of "Ilie Ilascu group" were arrested at their homes in Tiraspol between 2 and 4 June 1992, in the early hours of the morning. They were arrested by a number of persons, some of whom wore uniforms bearing the insignia of the 14th Army of the former USSR, while others wore camouflage suits without distinguishing marks. They were subsequently charged with commiting terrorist crimes against the MRT, although many would agree that the real reason for their imprisonment was their Romanian ethnic origin.

See also: Ilie Ilaşcu

Population

At the last census of 1989, the population was 546,400.

Recently, there has been a substantial emigration from the region due to economic hardships of the 1990s. This is one of the reasons why a disproportionately large part of the population is past the age of retirement.

Ethnicity

1989 census

  • Moldovans (Romanians): 40%
  • Ukrainians: 28%
  • Russians: 24%
  • Others: 8%

2004*

  • Moldovans (Romanians): 34%
  • Ukrainians: 29%
  • Russians: 29%

These numbers represent an estimate utilized by various sources. The results from the 2004 Transnistrian census have not yet been released by the PMR officially. The validity of these numbers is disputed, as they cannot be confirmed by an official source.

Economy

The GDP is about $420 million [1] (http://www.rbcnews.com/free/20050128092622.shtml) and the GDP per capita, based on the exchange rate, is $662, making the area slightly poorer than Moldova, and possibly the poorest region in Europe.

Reports of visitors to Transnistria have confirmed that the average salary of a Transnistrian does not exceed $10-$15. In 2004, this was half the average salary in the rest of Moldova. Although the population of the republic was 580,000 in 2004, it is estimated that about 375,000 people actually reside in the region since the rest are usually working in Russia or Ukraine.

The region has a number of factories, although some only posses older technology. One is a munitions factory in Tighina (Bender) while another important steel factory exists in Rbniţa (Rybnitsa). The factory in Rbniţa brings about 50% of the republic's revenue and is the main provider of jobs in that city.

Another important factory is the distillery "Kvint" of Tiraspol, famous for its strong spirits, which is also shown on the 5 Transnistrian ruble banknote.

An important company in the republic is Sheriff, which is owned by president Smirnov's eldest son. Sheriff controls everything from the newly constructed Tiraspol stadium to a chain of stores in all of Transnistria.

Seats of Administrative regions of Transnistria

Russian names, if different from the Romanian names, are listed in parentheses.

See also

External links

Profiles

Others

et:Transnistria fr:Transnistrie moldave ja:沿ドニエストル共和国 ko:트란스드네스트르 ka:დნესტრისპირეთი mo:Република Молдовеняскэ Нистрянэ nl:Transnistri no:Transnistria pl:Naddniestrze ro:Transnistria ru:Приднестровская Молдавская Республика uk:Придністровська Молдавська Республіка zh:德涅斯特河东岸共和国

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