Incursion in Transnistria, “the poorest area in Europe”. “I hate Romania since I was little, but they have Romanian passports”

Cleanliness and low prices, on the one hand, and on the other, poverty, a great fear of speaking and a hatred of Romania learned since school – these are some of the things found by vlogger Cosmin Avram during his visit to Transnistria .

The tank heading towards Chisinau and the Russian flag can be seen in the center of Tiraspol. PHOTO: CA

“Today we are in the capital, in Tiraspol, an extremely contested and controversial strip of land. A place where Russia left its mark. A place where Russia makes the law” – travel vlogger Cosmin Avram started his video in which he presents his adventure in Transnistria, a country he visited at the end of last year.

The vlogger talked about entering Transnistria. “First we passed the post of the Russian 'pacifiers'. Chisinau insists that the Russian Dniester pacification mission be replaced by a civilian one under an international mandate. Armed Russian soldiers looked at us through the car windows and that was it. They didn't stop us. At these peacekeeping posts, there are no longer Russians from Russia, but residents of Transmission with Russian citizenship, who are part of the Russian army that remained illegally here, in Transnistria, after the collapse of the USSR”explains Avram.

These “pacifiers” are part of the Western Military District of the Russian Army.

How difficult it was for him to enter Transnistria

Once you've passed that control, you're on your own, there's nothing, no law, to protect us. We had no problems. The transition was very, very simple. They checked our passports, gave me a visa, kind of a visa, looked in the car a bit, we had to wait somewhere like 10 minutes for insurance and that's about it“, explained the Romanian.

Their luggage was not checked. They were asked where they were going and what the purpose of the visit was. And that's it.

“The tourist areas are neat, they look good, at least from what I've seen so far. I don't know how many tourist areas we will find in this place, but we will see. Everywhere is written in Russian“, said Cosmin Avram.

He found out that there is a problem with filming in Transnistria. “For several months, journalists and bloggers have not been welcome in this country. I don't know why, because if you have nothing to hide, this shouldn't exist. I'm curious if we're going to run into problems. There are many people who organize tours from Chisinau to Tiraspol, but we chose to come on our own because that is the best way. From my point of view, you are getting a real experience. If you come with a guide, you come with a tour, you see strictly what they want to show you. You go to the beautiful areas and that's it“, he explains.

All in all, the blogger claims that they had no problems getting to Transnistria, although most tour operators claim that it is very difficult to get to “Little Russia”.

How Transnistria appeared

Avram claims that there is also a community of Romanians in Transnistria.

Of the almost half a million inhabitants, 30% declare themselves Moldovan, 30% Russian and 28% Ukrainian, and the rest is made up of other minoritiesi”, he specified.

The vlogger reviewed a little history of the area: “Since 1991, when Moldova declared its independence from the USSR, Transnistria refused to accept the change. At that moment, a civil war broke out between Moldovans and Transnistrian separatists, resulting in at least 2,000 deaths. The conflict ended with an armistice classified as catastrophic, which allowed the installation of a pro-Russian separatist regime here in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria”.

The same agreement allowed the maintenance of several thousand Russian soldiers in this region, with the aim of keeping the peace. The region has its own currency, Constitution, Parliament, flag, anthem.

“Russia supports this region with financial assistance, but has a bad reputation when it comes to corruption, organized crime and smuggling. Of course, when it comes to illegalities, Russia denies everything“, reports Cosmin.

He also said that Transnistria will supply the Republic of Moldova with 90% of its electricity needs until the end of 2024. The rest is imported from Ukraine and Romania.

The junction of Russia with Transnistria?

“By right, Transnistria belongs to the Republic of Moldova and benefits from all the advantages offered to Chisinau by the European Union (…) The international community does not recognize its status as a self-proclaimed state, and the de facto government, which remains in conflict with the Republic of Moldova, is supported politically, economically and militarily by Russia”, explains Avram.

He claims that for the first time in the last 32 years, Chisinau controls everything that enters Transistria, after on February 24, 2022, Ukraine hermetically closed the Transnistrian segment of the Moldovan-Ukrainian border with tanks.

Therefore, the rotation of the approximately 1,500 Russian soldiers from Transnistria is no longer possible.

“The junction with Transnistria, which Putin planned to achieve in the first week of the war, did not happen even after almost 2 years after the invasion, and the situation on the front shows that the Kremlin's plan failed due to Ukrainian resistance and counter-offensive“, explains Cosmin.

Statue of Lenin in the center of Tiraspol.  PHOTO: Cosmin Avram/ video capture

Statue of Lenin in the center of Tiraspol. PHOTO: Cosmin Avram/ video capture

Life in Transnistria: “It's good and not so much”

Chisinau exempted all goods arriving in Transnistria from any tax, as a result, in Tiraspol, some products are 30-40% cheaper than in Chisinau. “For this reason, many Moldovans choose to come here for shopping, because it is much cheaper”says the blogger.

Payment in Transnistria can only be made in cash. “When you change money in this region, you have to be careful and change exactly what you need, because the rubles here have no value outside of Transistria, and you risk being left with money that you will not be able to use” , he says.

Avram visited the central square of Tiraspol.

“Prices are in Transnistrian rubles. 8 rubles a kilogram of carrots, 8.50 of potatoes. At the moment I can't figure out the prices, but in theory they should be 30% lower than in the Republic of Moldova. 6-7 rubles per kilogram of apples“, says the traveler.

What impressed him about the market is the cleanliness. “The area is clean, neat, nothing to say. We would have liked to find someone who speaks Romanian to ask how life is here, but it is very difficult, because the vast majority of people, even if they speak Romanian, avoid doing it“, he added.

In the area where the cheeses are sold, he exclaimed: “Everything looks perfect, it's immaculate. He has never seen so much cleanliness in a market. I'm not exaggerating. Look at it too – hospital cleaning.”

Avram had a short dialogue with a saleswoman who spoke Romanian.

“How is life here?– he asked her.

“It's good…”said the indecisive woman.

It's fine in quotes. Got it, ok, thank you very much”.

You heard it too. It's good and not so much. People are afraid to talk, which is why I avoid talking to people, asking their opinion, so as not to cause them problems. When people are asked on the street about freedom and rights, they say they don't feel persecuted, but avoid talking about what displeases them and don't want to be filmed in any way“, he concluded.

“The poorest place in Europe I have visited”

Cosmin Avram left the tourist areas and ventured into the area behind some communist housing blocks.

“It's not that shocking, because I'm kind of used to such images. I can say that I have seen worse, I have seen much poorer areas. But yes, I think this is the poorest place I have visited, the poorest place in Europe that I have visited“, he explained.

Images of gray blocks in Tiraspol made the vlogger remark: “I am lucky that I did not live under communism, I did not know communism in the true sense of the word. And from what I have seen here today, I would not have wanted to live in those times. I know there will be people in the comments who disagree with me, but this is my opinion. If I'm wrong, just contradict me in the comments. Communism is not for me, communist doctrine is not for me, better said”.

However, he stated that in addition to the tourist areas, there are also certain neighborhoods that look good. “On top of that there is cleanliness throughout the city”he pointed out.

In addition, it being almost December, many green areas are not looking too good. “In the summer, in the spring, I think the place would look much nicer. I don't know what to say, I expected the worst.

Cosmin Avram in the center of Tiraspol.  PHOTO: Cosmin Avram/video capture

Cosmin Avram in the center of Tiraspol. PHOTO: Cosmin Avram/video capture

Learn to hate Romania

Avram tried to talk to people on the street who spoke Romanian, but they were detained. “When you want to film them, there is no problem. You can not. They are afraid to speak. This is the conclusion I have drawn so far”.

In fact, all the people they tried to talk to ran away from the room. “Unlike the Republic of Moldova, here people run away from the camera. In addition, when they hear us speak Romanian, they look at us with disgust. He looked with a kind of hatred. At least that's how I perceive things,” he further explained.

Avram claims that during his time in Transnistria he learned a lot of interesting information about the way people here are manipulated.

Practically, these people have been implanted with a hatred towards Romania and Europe since childhood. You know the hatred Russians have for Americans from the movies. Well, the same thing happens in the present situation. The little ones are taught that Romania is evil, Romania wants to conquer Moldova, conquer Transnistria, steal their territory. Basically, these kids grow up with it, they're brainwashed one way or another they are”he specified.

“If you're against a system, why go there”

Although they are anti-Romania, anti-EU and pro-Russia, many people from Transnistria work in Europe.

Many people here have Romanian passports, although they are against Romania, they are pro-Russian, but they have Romanian passports. This also happens in the Republic of Moldova, many pro-Russian people have Romanian passports because, with their help, they can reach Europe much easier”he specified.

Cosmin Avram has a puzzlement about these people: “I don't understand why when you're against a system, why do you choose to go there? Why do you choose to work there? Why do you choose to buy technology from that area? I do not know. Maybe you can enlighten me.”

His visit to Tiraspol was uneventful. They didn't have any problems at the “border” either. Their passports, car documents and that was it. Their luggage was not checked. In 10 minutes they passed the so-called border.