Back in the USSR

Transnistria, the unofficial country that missed the collapse of the Soviet Union

It’s a near fully-functioning state between Ukraine and Moldova, with its own army and parliament.

SITUATED BETWEEN UKRAINE and Moldova, Transnistria is not officially recognised as a country.

They have armed men, uniformed police who demand bribes, and a Parliament, but all their exports go through Moldovan authority.

While the Soviet Union forgot about Transnistria, Transnistria certainly hasn’t forgotten about the Soviet Union judging by the strange monuments.

The images below are by photographer Darmon Richter, who writes that the country “could be described as the breakaway state of a breakaway state”.

This small strip of land east of the River Dniester, sandwiched between Moldova and Ukraine, remained pro-Russia even after the 1991 fall of the USSR. Tensions between Moldova and its breakaway state erupted into conflict, but the problem was, Transnistria had served as a major labour pool for Soviet industry – and Leninesque President Igor Smirnov was sitting on one of the largest stockpiles of weaponry in Eastern Europe. The conflict reached an uneasy ceasefire in 1992, which has remained in place since.

You can read the full story on Richter’s blog.

Transnistria, the unofficial country that missed the collapse of the Soviet Union
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  • Transnistria (1)

    On the road to Tiraspol, an Orthodox cross stands in contrast to communist motifs.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (2)

    One of the main administrative buildings in Tiraspol, presided over by a statue of Lenin. Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (3)

    One of numerous decommissioned tanks that now decorate the streets of Tiraspol.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (4)

    October 25th Street, the main strip running through the center of the capital.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (5)

    Many of the buildings lining the streets of Tiraspol were built in striking socialist-realist, or 'Stalinist', styles.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (6)

    Many monuments in Transnistria incorporate decommissioned war machines — such as this MiG in a suburb of Tiraspol. Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (7)

    Sheriff FC Stadium — home to Tiraspol's football team, and a symbol of the wealth of Transnistria's elite.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (8)

    In classic Orthodox style, Tiraspol's churches and chapels are adorned with beautiful gold domes and colorful icons.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (9)

    The entrance to Tiraspol's peaceful 'Pobeda Park'.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (10)

    Children sketch in Pobeda Park during an outdoor art class. Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (11)

    Detail of Cyrillic shop signs in a Transnistrian village.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (12)

    The monuments here symbolize the efforts of Transnistrian soldiers in WWI, WWII, and the 1990 War of Transnistria. Flowers are left on the monuments to celebrate a decade of peace.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (13)

    Between the war memorials in the 'Park of Peace,' an eternal flame burns for unknown soldiers fallen in battle.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (14)

    As is the tradition in many former-USSR nations, here sweethearts proclaim their love by attaching locks and ribbons to a bridge.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (15)

    Soldiers on parade during the Independence Day celebrations. Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (16)

    Lenin looks down on the Transnistrian capital.Source: Darmon Richter
  • Transnistria (17)

    A local hero is celebrated with a vast statue of a soldier on horseback. Source: Darmon Richter

Read: Stalin’s brain illness may have caused him to be more brutal >

Lost images: Vitamin D fixes in the USSR, Soldiers and Local Girls and Arabian Days >

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