You are here

"We Are Transnistrians!" Post-Soviet Identity Management in the Dniester Valley

Troebst, Stefan. “We Are Transnistrians!” Post-Soviet Identity Management in the Dniester Valley // AbImperio, 2003. № 1. P. 437-466

“We are Transnistrians! One cannot deprive us of our history,
our name, our native tongue and national culture.
The TMR (Transnistrian Moldovan Republic) is the guarantor for this.”[1]

The Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR, Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika) is an authoritarian pseudo, quasi, or de facto state[2] on the territory of the Republic of Moldova. Its 4,000 square kilometers stretch more than 200 kilometers down along the eastern banks of the Dniester river and are inhabited by some 660,000 people.[3] In 1990, the TMR – then still the Transnistrian Moldovan Socialist Soviet Republic – broke away from the Moldovan Socialist Soviet Republic (MSSR), triggering an armed conflict in the Dniester valley which now became a frontier between the two parts of the country. In June 1992, the conflict culminated when the Transnistrian side successfully defended the city of Bendery (Tighina[4]), a bridge-head located on the right bank of the river vis-a-vis the TMR capital Tiraspol’ (Tiraspol). Until today, the mini-republic of Transnistria – perceived by observers from the outside as a “museum of communism,”[5] “Stalin’s last colony,”[6] or the “Zombie Socialist Soviet Republic”[7] – is not internationally recognized but exists nonetheless. Moreover, in socio-economic terms the TMR seems to be better off than its right-bank neighbour, internationally recognized Moldova, “Europe’s poorest country.”[8] In 2001, a Moldovan expert characterized the TMR’s economy as “not self-sufficient, but viable” and named barter trade with the Russian Federation, steel-dumping on the US market, petty street trade and the TMR leadership’s criminal economic activities (cigarette smuggling, arms trade, money laundering, production of faked designer clothes, etc.) as the main components of Transnistria’s GNP.[9] “The Trans-Dniester Republic,” according to a 2002 New York Times article, “is unique... in its ability to turn a fast and often illegal buck.”[10]


The TMR emerged as the result of a regional movement that in response to the de-Sovietization, re-Romanization and pro-independence politics of the pro-Romanian MSSR’s Moldovan People’s Front in 1989.[11] The slogan of the protest and strike movement of the Russian-speakers throughout Moldova – “We don’t want to be Romanians!”[12] – was answered by the People’s Front with the rally cry “Suitcase – station – Russia!”[13] While the Russophones of right-bank cities like Bălți (Bel’tsy) or Chișinău followed Baltic precendent and formed an movement called “Unity” to respond to the Moldovans’ challenge by parliamentary means, the reaction of the Russian-speaking elite in the Dniester valley was much more radical. Citing historical, demographic, cultural and other specific features of the region they started to create administrative structures parallel to the ones of the central government. The quest for parity by the so far “non-dominant” Moldovan majority in general and their People’s Front lead to the politicization, mobilization, radicalization and ultimately the secession of the Russian-speakers in the urban centers of the Dniester valley, a process that has aptly been labeled “reactive nationalism.”[14] The main driving force of the Transnistrian independence movement was the striving of the regional elite to secure their privileged positions in the administration, industry, academia, culture, and media acquired during the late Soviet period.

Considering their socioprofessional, linguistic, and ethnic as well as demographic structure this elite was in fact distinct from those of the predominantly rural right-bank Moldova (historically Bessarabia). Despite their multiethnicity, the cities of the Dniester valley such as Tiraspol’, Bendery or Rybnitsa (Rîbnița) are almost completely Russophone because not only their ethnic Russian inhabitants, but also their Ukrainian, Bulgarian, Jewish, Gagauz, Belarusian and Polish ones are heavily Russified and can be considered Russian-speakers. The same goes for a considerable number of ethnic Moldovans on the left bank, particulary for those living in urban environments. During the hot phase of the conflict it became obvious that the loyalty of most of them was much less with their co-nationals on the right bank than with the separatist movement. The reason for this was the priviledged positions Moldovans from Transnistria had acquired in all parts of the MSSR due to the “advantage” of having had two additional decades of Soviet-style “Moldovan-ness” (as opposed to the “Romanianness” of Bessarabian western Moldova) as well as their overall “Sovietness.”[15] As a Moldovan proverb popular in Soviet times put it : “To become a minister [in Soviet Moldova], you must be from beyond the Dniester!”[16] Ethnic Moldovans from the left bank figure prominently among today’s TMR leadership, such as the former chairman of the Union of Moldovans of Transnistria Vasilii N. Jakovlev[17]; the speaker of the TMR Supreme Soviet, Grigorii S. Marakuca; or TMR Vice-President, Aleksandr A. Karaman.

The large state enterprises established in Dniester valley cities beginning in the 1950s belonged to the USSR’s huge military-industrial complex and were administered directly to one of the numerous Union ministries in Moscow and did not answer to republican ministries of the MSSR in Chișinău. Accordingly, the Transnistrian regional elite of all ethnic backgrounds was distinctly “all-unionist” in a twofold sense of the word: they identified with the empire’s center of power and the overwhelming majority of them had recently immigrated to the region from other parts of the Soviet Union. In addition to excellent career chances and a rich educational infrastructure, an abundance of housing as well as the favourable climatic conditions made the eastern part of Soviet Moldova a particularly attractive place to work and live. More than half of the Russian-speakers of the TMR (who today constitute two thirds of all inhabitants – the other third being Moldovans) came to the Dniester valley as skilled workers, engineers, managers, teachers, administrators, Party officials, army and air force officers or NCOs, or were first-generation descendants of these Soviet immigrants.[18]

TMR president Igor’ N. Smirnov, in office since 1991, is the perfect prototype for this group. An ethnic Russian from the vicinity of Khabarovsk in the Priamur’e region in the Russian Far East, Smirnov was educated as an engineer in Chelyabinsk on the eastern slope of the Ural mountains, made his career at a plant producing electric motors in southern Kherson in the Ukraine, and finally moved to Tiraspol’ in November 1987, then the second-largest city of the MSSR, to become executive director of the city’s biggest factory “Ėlektromash.”[19]

Klemens Büscher, a German expert on the TMR, has depicted the Transnistrian movement as “a complex combination of various cross-cutting and interactive driving forces.”[20] Among them he names the “nationalism of the ethnic groups residing in Transnistria, Soviet patriotism, the beginnings of a regionalist movement, ideologically driven actors, and economic and political motivations of old and new elites.”[21] “Mighty clan-like structures connecting the top echelons of the Party, town Soviets, state administration and enterprises – all being tangled up with each other – emerged in Transnistria,” according to Büscher’s analysis of the movement’s leading figures, “in the surroundings of strategically important heavy industry and arms industry.”[22] Due to the frequent relocations involved in their work, a high quota of interethnic marriages, and due its close ties with the central authorities in Moscow, the group was unusually coherent in its identity, considering itself decidedly Soviet and definitely not Moldovan-Republican.[23] This self-perception was, among other things, based on a very concrete and until today highly visible factor – the former Fourteenth Soviet Guard Army which is still stationed in and around Tiraspol’, currently with reduced strength and under the name of an operative group of armed forces of the Russian Federation. This Russian military presence also explains the willingness as well as the capability of the Transnistrian movement to turn to violence in securing its privileges and interests as seen in the conflict between Tiraspol’ and Chișinău starting in 1990 and culminating in June 1992 in a one-week war-like clash over the control of the center of Bendery that resulted in up to 1,000 casualties, several thousands wounded combatants and civilians, and displaced more than 130,000 people.[24] With the silent support of the Fourteenth Army, Transnistrian guards succeeded in driving the Army of Moldova out of the inner city. At the same time, it was the Fourteenth Army, now under its new commander Lieutenant General Aleksandr I. Lebed’ which stopped the fighting and brought about an armistice.[25]

In at least three regards, the Transnistrian movement or – as its supporters prefer to call it – the “Transnistrian revolution”[26] clearly differs from other the mobilization of other groups of Russian-speakers in the former Soviet Union, the so-called Russian near abroad:

“First, the escalation of the conflict between the central government and the separatist authorities is – in David Laitin’s formulation – “the only exception to the absence of ethnic conflict directed at Russians in the union republics.”[27]

Second, the TMR is union-wide the only case of even an attempt of the “beached” Russian minority outside the Russian Federation to form their own state.

And third, as late as the Perestroika period, Transnistria did not figure in any scenario of late-Soviet or post-Soviet ethnopolitical conflict – in marked contrast to northeastern Estonia, the Crimea, or northern Kazakhstan.”[28]

The main pillars of the Transnistrian strive for state-building are:

(1) The unusually united political will of the regional elite;

(2) The economic potential of the region;

(3) The power provided by the Russian military presence as well as the political support of Moscow;

(4) And the normative force of the TMR’s factual existence with its impact on the everyday life of its inhabitants.

The latter point needs more explanation. While up to 1991, the frame of reference of the Transnistrians was the Soviet empire as a whole and not just the Moldovan SSR, this has changed profoundly. The tiny TMR is now the social space of a once highly mobile population, with the non-adjacent Russian Federation forming a distant and difficult to reach homeland. Of course, this process of Transnistrization is perceived by most of the Transnistrians as narrowing their room for maneuver and is therefore not welcomed. Nonetheless, it is underway and shapes the worldview of the inhabitants of the TMR. Some of the effects of the new limitations are mitigated by transterritorial family networks, spreading across the CIS, by the acquisition of multiple citizenship (Russian, Moldovan, Ukrainian, Belarusian, Bulgarian, Turkish, Israeli etc.) leading to the proliferation of a number of different passports – TMR id’s are even tacitly recognized only by Moldova – or by the reactivation of former personal networks. An example of the latter being Transnistrians who as former officers and NCOs of the Soviet Army Western Group of Forces were stationed in the GDR and now use their contacts and linguistic skills to act as brokers between TMR enterprises and firms in Saxony, Brandenburg, and Mecklenburg-Pomerania in eastern Germany.

In addition to the four main pillars identified above a fifth one is becoming increasingly important. Since the mid-1990s when a dramatic economic and monetary crisis shook the TMR[29] and Moscow started to make personnel reductions in the Fourteenth Army, the regime has embarked on a state-driven identity building project aimed at fostering a new regionalist pattern of collective identity as the first step towards the creation of a “Transnistrian people.” The key to such a new identity was perceived to be a shared history specific to Transnistria.


“History is not restricted to the dimension of the past.” So the editors began their recent collection of essays on Geschichtspolitik, “[History] can also be a political factor of primary importance. Perceptions of history can mobilize, legitimize, politicize and shape national identity, even trigger bloody conflicts.”[30] “The public construction of historical perceptions and identities” as well as “the creation of identity via the interpretation of historical events”[31] is what the politics of history are all about. According to another definition, the transmission belts leading from the designers to the recipients of this type of history-based identity politics are “the building of public museums of history, exhibitions and monuments as well as the creation of university chairs, the licensing of textbooks and school curricula but also public rituals of remembrance and commemoration.”[32] One should add that part of historical research which focuses on reaching out to a broader public.

Methods for analyzing this type of identity management come in the first instance from social anthropology. In a plea for an “ethnology-based approach to the analysis of ‘politics of history,’” the social anthropologist Wolfgang Kaschuba lists five “levels of practice:”

“First, public discourse in the media on (one’s own) history; second, a spatial and territorial concept of representation and symbolization, elaborated via lieux de mémoire and monuments; third, the symbolic fight for symbols and interpretations of the ‘esthetics of commemoration;’ fourth, the canon of ritual and esthetic practices of active remembrance; and fifth, the set of forms and figures of tradition-like narratives, autobiographic series of recollections, memorial photographs, local and national history textbooks.”[33]

While in Europe of the EU the politics of history are generally pursued within the borders of a consolidated nation-state and thus aim primarily at an increase of social integration, in Eastern Europe more often than not the very borders and structure of the state are on the agenda in the place of nation-state integration.[34] In doing so, a dissociation from former supra-national federations like the USSR, the ČSSR and Tito’s Yugoslavia has taken place.[35] In a number of particularly conflict-prone cases, dissociation from the successor-states of these federations has also been witnessed as in the examples of Kosovo (versus Serbia), Chechnya (versus the Russian Federation), Abkhazia (versus Georgia) and, not the least, the TMR versus Moldova.


The TMR politics of history follow a concept developed between 1991 to 1993, which consists of four main components:

(1) A Greater Russian mental mapping based on geopolitics, language, culture and religion;

(2) A historical master narrative still under development and with factual discontinuities being successively bridged by the results of ongoing research, feverishly being conducted on the history of the Dniester valley region;

(3) The politics of remembrance focusing on the dramatic early years of the TMR from 1989 to 1992; and

(4) A genuinely Transnistrian cult of personality of TMR president Igor Smirnov.

The prehistory of Transnistrian statehood, the period 1924-1940 when the rayons which constitute today’s TMR as well as several others further to the east possessed territorial autonomy within the Ukrainian Socialist Soviet Republic, plays interestingly enough no prominent role in this context. The capital of this short-lived Moldovan Autonomous Socialist Soviet Republic (MASSR) to the east of river Dniester was initially Balta, now in the Ukraine, then from 1929 on 1939 Tiraspol’.[36] The reason for the ambivalent relationship of the TMR leadership towards MASSR is the explicitly Moldovan, i.e., east Romance and not Slavic nation-building which Stalin had decreed for the region as People’s Commissar of Nationalities. Another reason is the circumstances under which Stalin ordered the dissolution of the MASSR and the merger of its western fringe with the new MSSR in 1940, including a voluntary re-drawing of borders between the Moldovan and Ukrainian Soviet Republics.[37]

The Cossack factor also forms an empty space in TMR politics of history, despite the fact that the Black Sea Cossack Army of Transnistria formed an important link with the Russian Federation and to the Russian-speakers in other CIS republics[38] in the violent days of the early 1990s – and still enjoys great visibility in Tiraspol’, Bendery, and other places. The reason why the potentially important Cossack link to the Eastern Slav world outside the TMR is not a constituent part in Transnistrian identity management is probably due to the vagueness of the Cossack movement in regard to concepts like “state” or “nation.”[39]


“Since times immemorial, the Transnistrian lands held an extraordinarily important position in the vast spaces of Eurasia.”[40] Thus runs the first sentence of the official, two-volume “History of the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic” compiled with the help of historians from Moscow and published in Tiraspol’ in 2000. The reference to Eurasia invokes anti-Western currents in Russian thought[41] and is further reinforced by a stress on supposed “Skythian” traditions.[42] “Looked upon through the eye of the high-flying eagle,” thus a textbook published in 1997 in Tiraspol’, “Transnistria – this thin strip of land along the grey-haired river Dniester – resembled a Skythian arc.”[43] With reference to Aleksandr A. Blok’s famous poem “The Skythians” (Skify), TMR identity management portrays Transnistria as a Slavic bulwark at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. For example, a map on the TMR’s geopolitical position in the official Atlas of the Dniester Moldavian Republic represents the territory of the TMR as much more compact than it is in reality and stresses a geopolitically crucial position between the East and West. In doing so, this alleged “centrality” of the TMR refers to two constellations. First, the TMR is portrayed as being located in the middle of the “brotherly states” of Belarus’ and the Russian Federation on the one side and the equally “brotherly,” Orthodox countries of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Serbia on the other. And second, it is depicted as being encircled by hostile NATO members Poland, Hungary, Greece and Turkey.[44] Moldova, according to TMR propaganda, is a hotbed of “Chișinău-style Nazism” and a stomping ground of “Romanian cannibals,”[45] and Ukraine – in Tiraspol’s perception notoriously unreliable regarding “Orthodox and eastern Slav” solidarity[46] – are perceived as two sides of the same anti-Russian vice. However, according to the self-perception of the TMR leadership, Transnistria is of primary geostrategic importance for Moscow and its existence is consequently guaranteed by the Russian Federation. In this context, the Kaliningrad parallel is frequently invoked by TMR officials, and this not only in military terms, but also in terms of international status. The TMR – according to this argument – should be turned into a second Kaliningradskaia oblast’ and become a subject of the Russian Federation. The self-stylization of the TMR as “a tiny bit of the Great Russian state,” to quite a 1995 speech that Smirnov made in the Moscow City Duma,[47] corresponds with another metaphor of Transnistria being “Russia’s historical enclave on the doorsteps to the Balkans.”[48] Yet, this rhetoric should not be taken too seriously. Putin’s rise to power weakened the pro-TMR faction in Moscow and other models are now under discussion in Tiraspol’: the TMR as a sovereign CIS republic and third partner to the anemic Belarusian-Russian Federation, or as a member of a new Ukrainian-Russian-Belarusian confederate state to be called ZUBR,[49] or even as part of a Bessarabian-Transnistrian confederation consisting of Moldova and the TMR. Moreover, with reference to economically prosperous Taiwan and, less prosperous, Northern Cyprus, the TMR leadership is considering the benefits of a prolongation of the status quo as an unrecognized de facto state, as a promising perspective.


In March 1991, the TMR leadership founded of an “academic research laboratory for the history of Transnistria” attached to the Taras G. Shevchenko State University in Tiraspol’ and nominated the historian and former MEMORIAL activist from Chișinău, Nikolai V. Babilunga, as its head.[50] Within a few years, Babilunga and his team of historians, ethnologists, experts on “scientific Communism” and others came up with five core elements of TMR identity: “self-sufficiency” (samobytnost’), “statehood” (gosudarstvennost’), “multiethnicity” (poliėtnichnost’), “eastern (orthodox) Slavic-Russian orientation” (vostochnyi [pravoslavnyi] slaviansko-rossiiskii vektor) and “Moldovanism” (moldovenizm) – the latter not in the ethnic, East Romance sense of the word, but in a historical and regional one using the early modern Moldovan Principality which was allied with Muscovy, and Soviet Moldavia as points of reference. Whereas up to the mid-1990s “Moldovanism” and the “Slavic-Russian orientation” were perceived as a contradiction even to the Transnistrian leadership, the significant restriction of TMR rhetoric to “Russia-ness” (rossiiskost’) – not to be confused with of “Russian-ness” (russkost’) – has eased this opposition.[51] Here, the Russo-centric core of Transnistrian self-perception is revealed, despite a permanent stress on multi-ethnicity and trilingualism (besides Russian, Ukrainian and Moldovan are also official languages in the TMR). In line with a “new Russian national idea” proclaimed in Moscow in 1997, the “communitarian whole of all Russians” (sobornost’)[52] is the Transnistrian framework of reference – not the totality of “citizens of the Russian Federation” (rossiiane) of whatever ethnic origin invoked by Boris N. Yel’tsin’s liberal advisers in the first half of the 1990s.[53] Accordingly, the five Transnistrian key terms are perfectly compatible with the “six principles of Rusianness:” patriotism, communitarianism, emotionality, morality, realism, and sociability.[54]

The Tiraspol’ laboratory of history has traced the core concepts of “self-sufficiency,” “statehood,” “multi-ethnicity,” “eastern (Orthodox) Slavic-Russian orientation,” and “Moldovanism” as far back as Kievan Rus’ and even into the Stone Age. The main point made is that in the Dniester valley – unnoticed by the outside world and by the inhabitants of the region themselves – a number of fundamental peculiarities developed that became visible only towards the end of the Soviet era. Currently, this message of “we have always been different from the others” is being refined by Babilunga and his colleagues into a new and genuinely Transnistrian historical master narrative. In doing so, they apply methods of professional historiography, yet the final result – the ultimate proof for the existence of a “Transnistrian people” – is predetermined by political factors.[55] Accordingly, the new master narrative is only partly disseminated in the customary form of academic products like, such as the two-volume History of the TMR. Much more important transmission belts of the new Transnistrian identity are schools, textbooks, and mass media as well as museums, monuments, commemorative ceremonies and, not the least, state symbols on banknotes, coins, stamps and other official documents. Of particular importance are anniversaries like the new TMR “Day of the Republic” on September 2 and other dates connected with the dramatic years of 1990 to 1992 as well as Soviet holidays like May 1, May 9, June 22, or November 7.

The contents of the new TMR perception of history fall into three categories:

1. First, a set of selected historical events, processes, and periods is considered to be constitutive for the history of the region and thus forms the backbone of the new master narrative.

2. Second, two personality cults are cultivated, one of the General Aleksandr V. Suvorov (1729-1800) who is glorified as the Tsarist Russian liberator of Transnistria from the Ottomans as well as the founder of Tiraspol’ (both events taking place in 1792) and Vladimir I. Lenin (1870-1924), the founder of the Soviet Union.

3. Third, two mantras are repeated: multi-ethnicity, with official TMR trilingualism as its public manifestation, and the “preservation of the Soviet legacy.”

The Tiraspol’ research lab has characterized the following ten epochs, periods, processes, personalities and events as being of primary importance for the new master narrative:

(1) The early Paleolithic period when the eastern shore of river Dniester allegedly constituted “the cradle of mankind.”

(2) The Kievian Rus’ of the tenth and eleventh centuries when Transnistria was said to be a part of the first Russian state and a branch of the famous “route from the Varangians to the Greeks” supposedly ran along the Dniester.

(3) The centuries when the region was divided between the Ottoman Empire and the Crimean Khanate on the one hand and Poland-Lithuania and the Cossack State on the other, forming “a bridge between East and West.”

(4) The frontier times following the Russian conquest of Transnistria in 1792 to the conquest of Bessarabia in 1812 – two decades when the Dniester was the border between the empires of the Sultans and the Tsars.

(5) Revolution and Civil War from 1917 to 1922 – a period depicted as being particularly heroic with Transnistria becoming a part of Soviet Ukraine.

(6) The years of the existence of the MASSR from 1924 to 1940 within the Ukrainian SSR.

(7) The Second World War which is said to have turned Transnistria into a center of passive resistance to and active partisan warfare against Romanian occupation; in addition, reference is made to the region’s heroic losses in terms of Red Army soldiers who fell fighting Hitler’s Germany.

(8) The decades of forced industrialization from the late 1940s to the 1970s which were characterized by an expansion of the educational system, the growth of urban centers, and a huge immigration from other parts of the Soviet Union.

(9) The beginnings of the Transnistrian movement and the building of the TMR, i.e., the years 1989 and 1990.

(10) The “Battle of Bendery” in 1992, which is depicted as being the baptism of fire of the TMR and the “Transnistrian people.”

The cult of Suvorov is not a TMR invention, but part of its Soviet legacy. Already in the 1970s, an equestrian statue of the military leader was erected in the center of Tiraspol’.[56] Due to the general’s prominence, his relationship to the region, his belligerence and Russianness as well as his “anti-Westernness” – in 1799, Suvorov cleared Napoleon’s troops out of northern Italy and crossed the Alps into Switzerland – the Transnistrian movement picked him as its first and foremost political symbol. The earliest TMR attempts to visualize the new statehood focussed on Suvorov, not the least because other historical symbols were either in short supply or were perceived as not being specifically Transnistrian, which was the case with Lenin. In 1991, the new TMR currency – officially called the coupon ruble (kupon rubl’), yet colloquially named “Suvorovs” (suvorovki) – was produced by putting a stamp with a portrait of Suvorov on regular Soviet ruble bills. In 1992, the same was done with new Russian rubles. The first printed series of TMR coupon ruble bills printed in 1993 and 1994 also carried Suvorov’s portrait and a depiction of his equestrian statue.[57] During the years that followed, this statue took on a life of its own with its silhouette stylized to such a degree that outsiders would hardly recognize it as a statue, not to mention as Suvorov. For example, the frontispiece of the official TMR daily Dnestrovskaia pravda carries a vignette with an extremely simplified silhouette of the monument and an even more cryptic form can be found in gold leaf marking the official business of the TMR cabinet ministers. The image of Suvorovs plays an equally important role in marketing TMR products in the post-Soviet markets. For instance, the highest quality of Transnistrian brandy – the 40-year-old brandy produced by the monopolist “Kon’iaki, vina i napitki Tiraspol’ia” (KVINT) – is called “Suvorov.”[58]

The former Soviet Union, according to TMR rhetoric “the fatherland where we were born,”[59] still dominates everyday life in the Dniester valley. The cult of Lenin is the most visible sign. Not only is the main north-south street in Tiraspol’ named after Lenin,[60] but so are the main streets in almost every Transnistrian village and town. In front of the building housing the president’s office, the government and the Supreme Soviet of the TMR, a huge Lenin statue made of red marble by the well-known Soviet sculptor Lev E. Kerbel’ is still standing.[61] When asked in 2001 why the statue remained, TMR Minister of Foreign Affairs Valerii A. Litskai answered:

“There are no other monuments beside the ones for Lenin and Suvorov... In earlier times, we had three Lenins in the main street – that was too many so we removed one of them...”[62]

Lenin is, however, banned from another, particularly prominent place. Since 1993, all TMR banknotes feature the above mentioned-above government building without the Lenin statue in front of it. The same goes for the 25 ruble commemorative coin issued in 2000 on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the TMR.[63]

Yet, not only is Lenin’s star is on the decline in Transnistria, the image of the Soviet Union in general is slowly eroding. For instance, Minister Litskai answered a question concerning the role of the Soviet legacy hesitantly the following way in 2001:

“Our history and our culture is closely related to the Soviet period. Industrialization in our region was Soviet in nature. We cannot dissociate ourselves from Soviet culture... Maybe Soviet culture is not a good one, but we don’t have another one. We do not think that it was a hundred-percent bad one.”[64]

On the surface, however, the importance attributed to the “preservation of the Soviet legacy” by the regime remains unchanged, as demonstrated

by official symbolic language and the TMR coat of arms. Here, hammer and sickle as well as the red star and Soviet-style corn-ears figure prominently. The large version of the coat of arms has the name of the state in the three official languages Russian, Ukrainian, and Moldovan – the latter of course in Cyrillic script[65] – the small version has abbreviations, “PMR” for the Russian and Ukrainian forms and “RMN” for the Moldovan one.


In the TMR, the recollection of the bloody events of 1992 are kept alive by a large number of monuments, ceremonies, anniversaries, orders and other decorations, veteran organizations, illustrated books and other means.[66] Bendery, since the fighting of 1992 an ethnically cleansed and almost exclusively Russophone city, is the emotional focus of TMR politics of remembrance. Only the town of Dubossary (Dubăsari) where in March 1992 heavy fighting between Moldovan forces and TMR guards also took place[67] and the capital Tiraspol’ with its combined memorial for the fallen of the Soviet War in Afghanistan and those of the conflict with Moldova try to hold their ground against the forceful “myth of Bendery.” In 1996, Andrei Safonov – a representative of the democratic wing of the Transnistrian movement – called Bendery “something like a sacral symbol” for the inhabitants of the TMR[68], and TMR Foreign Minister Litskai – a historian by training – described Bendery aptly as “our West Berlin.”[69] So it was not really a surprise when shortly before the tenth anniversary of the “Battle of Bendery” the TMR leadership published a politically highly explosive plan to merge the right-bank “city of heroes” Bendery and the present TMR capital of Tiraspol’ on the left bank into a single “new capital of Transnistria.”[70] Morevoer, it is not a promising development that in all multilateral mediation efforts as well as bilateral talks the fundamental issue of the future status of Bendery is deliberately not touched upon.[71] To make things worse, the city is also of first-rate economic and military importance for both conflict parties. The city’s importance for Moldova stems from the fact that it is the main railway junction of the country. For the TMR the city’s importance is due to the fact that the Transnistrian Army produces the multiple rocket launch system “Grad” and other arms.

The most important memorial sites of the “Tragedy of Bendery” are the city’s Museum of History and Regional Geography, the municipal cemetery and a new monument complex near the bridge over river Dniester. This “Memorial of Remembrance and Mourning” consists of a wheeled tank with the letters “PMR” and a TMR flag, several marble plates with the names of those killed in the fighting on the Transnistrian side, a commemorative stone and a bell-tower[72] – the latter revealing the Christian cross as a new element in TMR politics of remembrance. Those killed on the Moldovan side in 1992 are explicitly not remembered. To the contrary, they are labeled on the commemorative stone as “the nationalists of Moldova” against whom “the defenders of Bendery held the city.” Since the lavish celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the military success of 1992 in 2002, this complex, also known as “Memorial of Fame,” is the central site for the commemoration of the “Battle of Bendery” and for TMR politics of remembrance in general. The tank in front of the bell-tower is the symbol of resistance and victory, for the new Transnistrian regional identity, and for the rejection of everything “Romance” and “Romanian,” or even “Western”.[73] Accordingly, on June 19, 2002, after a special “requiem meeting” of the Bendery city council in front of the building – the site of the most serious fighting in 1992 – President Smirnov led a procession of participants to the new memorial.[74]


The cult of personality of President Smirnov started in the forefield of the celebrations of the tenth anniversary of the proclamation of the TMR in 2000. It is true that there were previous attempts to “heroize” the engineer from the Russian Far East, but they were grassroot initiatives and not official ones. This is true of the construction of a “historical” parallel between Smirnov (whose first name is Igor’) and the twelve-century Russian heroic poem “Lay of Igor’s Campaign.” While Igor’ Sviatoslavovich of Novgorod-Seversk fought the Cumans in the south Russian steppe in 1185, Igor’ Smirnov of Tiraspol’ was seen as defeating the Moldovans in Bendery in 1992.[75] After having been awarded the titles of doctor, professor, and academician by Transnistrian and Russian institutions of higher education in 1999, the year of 2001 was a peak for the new Smirnov cult. First, a bio-bibliography of the president containing not less than 83 items was published,[76] then he was awarded the International Sholokhov Prize of the Union of Writers of the Russian Federation for his book Living in Our Country[77] – joining the likes of Radovan Karadžić, Aliaksandr G. Lukashenka, und Gennadii A. Zyuganov – and finally his policy adviser and political companion Anna Z. Volkova published a voluminous biography entitled The Leader.[78] This hagiographic portrayal of Smirnov as an honest and modest democrat working day and night for the well-being of the citizens of the TMR contrasts starkly with his widely known private economic activities including the ownership of the monopolist “Sheriff” group of supermarkets, filling stations and other retail outlets, among them supposedly also illegal ones. Hence Smirnov’s nickname “Mafistopheles‘” – a combination of “mafioso” and “Mephistopheles.”

Megalomania combined with minimalism and mnemonics were also the trademark of Smirnov’s third election campaign president in the fall of 2001. Among the campaign posters was one showing the horizontally striped red-green-red TMR flag with two words on each stripe:

Integratsiia [Integration] - Igor’

Nezavisimost’ [Independence] - Nikolaevich

Stabilnost’ [Stability] - Smirnov.[79]

Another election poster related the personality cult of Smirnov to the topic of international recognition of the TMR, its further existence, and the politics of history. The slogan “They have recognized our leader – they will also recognize our republic!”[80] is illustrated with photographs showing Smirnov shaking hands with his Russian, Belarusian, and Ukrainian colleagues Vladimir V. Putin, Aliaksandr G. Lukashenka and Leonid D. Kuchma and supplemented with a “rule of three” suggesting historical continuity:

Reka – Dnestr [The river (is the) Dniester]

gosudarstvo – PMR [the state (is the) TMR]

prezident – Smirnov [the president (is) Smirnov][81]

An election result of almost 80 percent of the votes for Smirnov[82] demonstrates that – intimidation and election fraud notwithstanding – the majority of the voters are susceptible for this type of personalized TMR identity management.


“Transnistria and the Transnistrians,” state TMR President Smirnov in 2000 “that is a peculiar region with an astonishing people that has self-sacrificingly fought for its statehood. Our state has become a reality and that is the most important event of these last ten years.”[83] What Smirnov here called “the truth about our small, but freedom-loving and viable state”[84] cannot be rejected offhand. That is, the fact that this tiny state-like entity still exists twelve years after its self-proclamation, has mastered a number of internal problems and has survived considerable external pressure, and even an armed conflict must be taken into consideration. Taking into account the shaky economic basis of the TMR during the 1990s, its uneasy position between a hostile Moldova and an indifferent Ukraine, and with the Russian Federation as protector state-to-be being far away, the statelet’s situation in 2002 seems to have stabilized. This impression of stability is, of course, partly due to massive repression of the remnants of political opposition in the TMR. But it is unlikely that this is the only reason. The fact that Smirnov won the presidential elections three times in a row (in 1991, 1996, and 2001, this time against at least one serious competitor, the pro-Putin mayor of Bendery Tom M. Zenovich[85]) speaks for itself. The “Moscow factor” does not fully explain this relative stability. For a number of years already, Moscow has constantly reduced the number of Fourteenth Army officers, NCOs and ranks as well as Russian peacekeepers in the quadrilateral force in the security zone,[86] and transports arms, military material, and ammunition from the garrisons in Transnistria to western Russia. Thus, the assumption seems plausible that the stability of the TMR is at least partially homemade and that history-based identity creation described above is one of the key factors in this development.

One clue that supports this interpretation is an opinion poll on “National processes, language relations, and identity” carried out in spring 1998 on behalf of the Carnegie Endowment by sociologists from Moldova, the TMR, the Russian Federation, and the US. The main result of this poll, which incorporated 350 inhabitants of the TMR whose ethnic composition reflected the overall ethnic structure of the region, was the statement that the “processes of the formation of a territorial socio-cultural identity of the Transnistrians”[87] could be proven. 83 percent of the participants in the poll opted for the preservation of TMR statehood, and 44 percent showed themselves convinced that ‘a unique unified community... of the Transnistrian people’ existed.”[88] More recent data is provided by another poll carried out in April 2000 on “Moldovan and Transnistrian Identity” undertaken by the Moscow-based political scientist Vladimir Kolossov.[89] This time, 498 inhabitants of the TMR as well as 513 of right-bank Moldova were interviewed. Whereas on both sides of the river the degree of political and territorial identification with the region and state was almost the same, significant differences existed with regard to the perception of one’s standard of living compared to the other side’s. Transnistrians considered their own socio-economic situation in general as poor, but much better than the situation in right bank Moldova.[90] Also, the degree of trust in the TMR leadership was considerably higher than figures in mainland Moldova: 45.2 percent of those interviewed trusted president Smirnov, 38.7 percent trusted the government, and 37.1 percent the Supreme Soviet. The highest figures of trust, however, were achieved by two non-political yet politicized institutions: the Orthodox church with 48.6 percent and, unrivalled number one, the armed forces of the TMR with 64.7 percent![91]

Another piece of circumstantial evidence for the relative success of TMR identity creation comes from the rudimentary civic society of the miniature republic. In October 1997, when a compromise solution between the TMR and Moldova seemed to be in reach, a fly-sheet was issued by a radical separatist organization called “The Defenders of Transnistria” was distributed in the streets of Tiraspol’. In this flyer, President Smirnov was exhorted to carefully obey the principles of “sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the state” according to paragraph 76 of the TMR constitution[92]:

“Igor’ Nikolaevich [Smirnov]! Do not forget that we are against:
Loosing the independence of our republic;
Becoming a province of Romania;
Living on our native soil as uprooted;
Loosing our language and having to be ashamed of our nationality;
Passing an exam in Romanian language that we do not know and therefore loosing our jobs;
Repaying back the West for the Republic of Moldova’s many billions in loans.
We trust that you remain faithful to your oath of allegiance to the people of Transnistria!”[93]

And in fact Smirnov has throughout all of the eight years of negotiations with Chișinău remained uncompromising. While categorically declining offers of territorial autonomy for Transnistria within Moldova as well as of a federalization of the country, with Transnistria as a subject of an asymmetric federation, he insisted on the model of a “common state” (obshchee gosudarstvo), a confederation of the TMR and the Republic of Moldova with separate political systems, legislations, currencies, security apparatuses, and even separate armed forces.

As demonstrated, there is considerable evidence that the viewpoint of the authors of the fly-sheet as well as that of Smirnov is shared by a relative majority of the inhabitants of the TMR and that a “Transnistrian people” in the sense of a demos exists. Whether this “people” has the potential to develop into an ethnos is for the time being an open question. In 1970, Mathias Bernath, a historian of Southeastern Europe, referred to the similar case of post-1944 Macedonian nation-building, stating “that today the existence of an almost full-fledged nationality in Vardar Macedonia is a hypothesis to be taken seriously, and tomorrow it will be an irreversible fact provided that within the next two generations no shifts in the territorial shape of Yugoslavia and Bulgaria occur.”[94] In 1998, a Russian-US team of social scientists made a similar statement about Transnistria: “In the TMR, the visible signs of a new national construction are evident and in less then a decade, a new identity has taken shape.”[95] So it seems as if after the successful state-building of the early 1990s the TMR leadership succeeded also in laying the foundations for a successive nation-building process, thereby proving Miroslav Hroch’s view that while nations are invented by political entrepreneurs without a hard core of previously existing allegiances – be they language, region, faith, class, or other – it does not work..[96] In this connection the fact that the “Ruritanians” on the left bank previously belonged to the “Megalomanians” is not unusual. “Megalomanians can become Ruritanians,” as David Laitin has demonstrated with examples from other post-Soviet cases.[97] What in fact is unusual in the case of the TMR is that here the former “Megalomanians” did not accept the inversion of their status to “Ruritanians” and did not acquiesce in the change of their status from dominant to non-dominant elite group as did, for example, the Russian-speakers in the Baltic states, in the Donbass or on the Crimea. In Transnistria, they founded and even fought for a separate state.[98]

Whereas in international law as well as in international relations secession in general, and an unpeaceful one in particular, is perceived as being part of the problem and not of the solution, the political scientist Ulrich Schneckener recently came up with the formula of “secession as conflict resolution.”[99] His proposals for defusing the conflict between Serbia, Montenegro, and Kosovo by granting statehood to all three of them probably apply also to the TMR and Moldova. The conflict potential inherent in any given de facto state is in most instances higher than the one of an internationally recognized – and thus legally bound – subject of international law. This does, of course, not answer the question about what could be the future status of the TMR. An indefinite prolongation of the volatile status quo? An independent and diplomatically recognized mini-state squeezed between Moldova and Ukraine? “Re”-unification with the distant Russian Federation? Or junior partner in a ZUBR-type Russian-Belarusian-Ukrainian confederation? Yet things become even more complicated when taking into account the Republic of Moldova’s own serious crisis of identity and the simultaneous economic crises that have resulted in mass poverty and mass migration. Much as in the early 1990s, the option of Moldova’s reunification with Romania has strong support within the Moldovan-speaking majority of the country at the beginning of the twenty-first century.[100] The closer Romania moves towards NATO and EU, the more attractive the reunification option becomes for impoverished Moldova. This development has a twofold effect on policy and thinking in Tiraspol’. First, the old guard of separatists around Smirnov and Volkova treats any rapprochement between Bucharest and Chișinău as another justification for their deep mistrust against the political class of the new Moldova, be they pro-Romanian nationalists or, like the present Moldovan government, Russian-speaking communists. Second and in contradiction of the first point, more flexible TMR politicians like Litskai or Zenovich and, in particular, the majority of Transnistrian entrepreneurs and businessmen favor a double-track policy combining close relations with Moscow with a Transnistrian “road to Europe.” Not coincidentally, in December 2002, shortly after Romania was officially named a candidate to NATO and EU, an NGO called “For Europe, Mutual Understanding and Cooperation” was founded in Tiraspol’ with the tacit blessings of the regime.[101] And since even policymakers in Tiraspol’ know that Transnistria’s “road to Europe” leads inevitably via Chișinău, the “common state” option is relevant – hence the recent Transnistrian-Moldovan talks facilitated by the Russian Federation, Ukraine, and OSCE in December 2002 in Moscow.[102]

To sum up: Due to the high volatility of political developments in the southwestern corner of the CIS, a large number of scenarios for Transnistria have to be taken into account. According to some of them, the TMR has a fair chance to retain its status of a de facto state, maybe even to become internationally recognized. The longer current status lasts, the higher is the likelihood that TMR identity creation pushes its constituents across the point of no return, triggering a Hrochian “Phase B” in the process of building a “Transnistrian people”. For the time being, however, what has been constructed by Tiraspol’ does not yet seem to be irreversible.

[1] My – pridnestrovtsy! Nas ne lishit’ istorii, imeni, rodnogo iazyka, natsional’noi kul’tury. PMR tomu garantiia. Inscription in golden letters on red velvet in the Museum of History and Regional Geography of Bendery (Benderskii istoriko-kraevedcheskii muzei).
[2] Scott Pegg. International Security and the De Facto State. Aldershot, 1998; Pål Kolstø. Unrecognized States Vs. Quasi-States in International Relations. MS, January 2003; and Vladimir Kolossov, John O’Loughlin. Pseudo-States as Harbingers of a New Geopolitics: The Example of the Transdniestr Moldovan Republik (TMR) // D. Newman (Ed.). Boundaries, Territories and Postmodernity. London, 1999. Pp. 151-176. See also Anne Nivat. We Have All the Attributes of a Normal State. [Interview with] the vice president of the self-proclaimed Dniester Moldovan Republic, Aleksandr Karaman. Tiraspol, 12 July. // Transition. 1996. Vol. 2. No. 17, 23 August. P. 29.
[3] On the TMR see Klemens Büscher. Separatismus in Transnistrien. Die “PMR” zwischen Rußland und Moldova // Osteuropa. 1996. Bd. 46. S. 860-875; Frank-Dieter Grimm. Transnistrien – ein postsowjetische Relikt mit ungewissen Perspektiven // Europa Regional. 1997. Bd. 5. H. 2. S. 23-34; Pål Kolstø, Andrei Malgin. The Transnistrian Republic: A Case of Politicized Regionalism // Nationalities Papers. 1998. Vol. 26. Pp. 103-127; Stuart J. Kaufman. Modern Hatreds. The Symbolic Politics of Ethnic War. Ithaca, NY, London, 2001. Pp. 129-163 and 241-247; Stefan Troebst. Frozen and Forgotten: The Dniester Conflict, 1989-2002 // European Yearbook of Minority Issues. 2003. Vol. 2 (forthcoming); as well as the collection of documents Nepriznannaia respublika. Ocherki. Dokumenty. Khronika / Edited by V. F. Gryzlova i M. N. Guboglo. 5 volumes. Moscow, 1997-1999.
[4] In the following, names of places under control of TMR authorities are given in their Russian form, names of places under control of the Moldovan government in Moldovan/Romanian form with the Russian or Moldovan/Romanian equivalent in brackets.
[5] Oliver Hoischen. Transnistrien ist zu einer Grauzone zwischen Ost und West geworden // Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. No. 225. 28. September 1999. S. 3; Matthias Rüb. Das kleine Königreich des kleinen Lenin. Ibid. 2001. No. 7. 9 January. S. 6.
[6] Walter Mayr. Stalins letzte Kolonie // Der Spiegel. 2000. No. 40. 2 October. S. 223.
[7] R. S. S. Mancurtă in the Moldovan/Romanian original alludes to Chingiz T. Aitmatov‘s Kazakh legend of the Mankurts. See Nicolae Dabija. Moldova de peste Nistru – vechi pămînt strămoșesc. Chișinău, 1990. P. 4.
[8] Elfie Siegl. Der mühselige Weg der kleinen Moldau-Republik aus der Krise // Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 2001. No. 281. 3 December. S. 18.
[9] Anatolij Gudym. Evolution of the Transnistrian Economy: Critical Appraisal. Chișinău, 2001. (Last consulted March 25, 2003.). For an official portrayal of TMR industry see A. Palamar’, N. Yelagin. Izgotovleno v Pridnestrov’e. Reklamno-informacionnyi spravochnik. Tiraspol’, 2000.
[10] Michael Wines. Trans-Dniester ‘Nation’ Resents Shady Reputation // The New York Times. 2002. 5 March. P. 3. ... xpment/2002/0305trans.htm (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[11] Claus Neukirch. Die Republik Moldau. Nations- und Staatsbildung in Osteuropa. Münster, 1996; and Charles King. The Moldovans. Romania, Russia, and the Politics of Culture. Stanford, CA, 1999.
[12] Nu vrem să fim romani! Cf. N. V. Babilunga, S. I. Beril, B. G. Bomeshko, I. N. Galinskii, V. R. Okushko, P. M. Shornikov. Fenomen Pridnestrov’ia. Tiraspol’, 2000. P. 152.
[13] Chemodan – vokzal – Rossiia! Cf. I. F. Selivanova. Pridnestrovskii konflikt i problemy ego uregulirovaniia // Ėtnopoliticheskie konflikty v postkommunisticheskom mire. Part II. Moskow, 1996. P. 4.
[14] William Crowther. The Politics of Ethno-National Mobilization: Nationalism and Reform in Soviet Moldavia // The Russian Review. 1991. Vol. 50. P. 189. See also King. The Moldovans. Pp. 178-208; Anatol Tsaranu. Pridnestrovskii konflikt v Respublike Moldova: protivostoianie identichnostei? // Valeriu Moșneaga (Ed.). Moldova între Est și Vest: Identitatea națională și orientarea europeană. Al II-lea simpozion științific moldo-german. Republica Moldova, Chișinău, 28 October – 1 November 2001. Chișinău, 2001. P. 255-273; Nikolai V. Babilunga, Boris G. Bomeshko. Pridnestrovskii konflikt: Istoricheskie, demograficheskie, politicheskie aspekty. Tiraspol, 1998; Gottfried Hanne. Der Transnistrien-Konflikt: Ursachen, Entwicklungsbedingungen und Perspektiven einer Regulierung (Reihe “Berichte des Bundesinstitut für ostwissenschaftliche und internationale Studien”. No. 42/1998). Köln, 1998. S. 3; Petr M. Shornikov. Pokushenie na status. Ėtnopoliticheskie protsessy v Moldavii v gody krizisa 1988-1996. Kishinev, 1997; Airat R. Aklaev. Dynamics of the Moldova-Trans-Dniester Ethnic Conflict (Late 1980s to Early 1990s) // Kumar Rupesinghe and Valery A. Tishkov (Eds.). Ethnicity and Power in the Contemporary World. Tokyo, 1996. Pp. 83-115; Pål Kolstø & Andrei Edemsky with Natalya Kalashnikova. The Dniester Conflict. Between Irredentism and Separatism // Europe-Asia Studies. 1993. Vol. 45. Pp. 973-1000; and Andrew Williams. Conflict Resolution After the Cold War: The Case of Moldova // Review of International Studies. 1999. Vol. 25. Pp. 71-87.
[15] Alla I. Skvorțova. Transnistrian People - an Identity of Its Own? // Moldovan Academic Review. 2002. Vol. 1. No. 1 (Special Topic Issue “Dniestria: From Past to Future”). (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[16] Pentru ca să fii ministru, tre’ să fii de peste Nistru! Quoted in Igor Munteanu. Social Multipolarity and Political Violence // Pål Kolstø (Ed.). National Integration and Violent Conflict in Post-Soviet Societies: The Cases of Estonia and Moldova. Boulder, CO, 2003 (forthcoming).
[17] For the Soiuz Moldovan see V. N. Yakovlev. Ternistyi put’ k spravedlivosti. Tiraspol’, 1993. Yakovlev, in 1991 the founding rector of the TMR State University in Tiraspol’ and since the late 1990s a political émigré in the Russian Federation, probably qualifies for another Moldovan proverb: Mama rus, tata rus, dar Ivan moldovan! (“Mom is Russian, dad is Russian, yet little Ivan is a Moldovan!”). Cf. Silvia Matteucci. Identita nazionale e conflitto in Moldavia: Questione etnica o politica? // Silvia Matteucci (a cura di). Il nazionalismo. Culture politiche, mediazione e conflitto. (Series “Collana di studi sui Balcani e l'Europa Centro-Orientale”. 12). Ravenna, 2000. P. 155
[18] Vladimir Solonari, Vladimir Bruter. Russians in Moldova // Vladimir Shlapentokh, Munir Sendich, Emil Payin (Eds.). The New Russian Diaspora. Russian Minorities in the Former Soviet Republics. Armonk, NY, London, 1994. P. 76.
[19] T. G. Deinenko et al. Igor’ Nikolaevich Smirnov. Bibliograficheskii ukazatel’. Tiraspol’, 2001. Pp. 3-4. See also the “official” biography of Smirnov by Anna Z. Volkova. Lider. Tiraspol’, 2001. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[20] Klemens Büscher. Die ‘Staatlichkeit’ Transnistriens - ein Unfall der Geschichte? Beitrag für das Projekt ‘Die zweite nationale Wiedergeburt’. Nationalismus, nationale Bewegungen und Nationalstaatsbildungen in der spät- und postkommunistischen Gesellschaft / MS., paper given at the conference at the University of Mannheim, Germany, February 20-22, 1998. P. 2. See also Idem. Transnationale Beziehungen der Russen in Moldova und der Ukraine. Ethnische Diaspora zwischen Residenz- und Referenzstaat (Reihe “Gesellschaften und Staaten im Epochenwandel”. Bd. 10). Frankfurt/M. etc., 2003 (forthcoming).
[21] Büscher. Staatlichkeit. P. 2. See also Constantin Chiroșca. Ideologia Transnistreană // Arena Politicii. 1997. No. 10. Pp. 21-22.
[22] Büscher. Staatlichkeit. P. 17. On the beginnings of industrialization, urbanization, Sovietization and Russification of Transnistria in the period 1950-1967 as well as on the emergence of an allochthone, multiethnic elite see the case study by Ronald J. Hill. Soviet Political Elites. The Case of Tiraspol. London, 1977.
[23] Recently, Alla Svorțova has pointed to another specific feature of the TMR elite during the hot phase of the conflict – their popularity and prestige with the population: “The Dniester leadership was for the most part composed of people who had long experience, such as directors of big enterprises, secretaries of Communist Party committees, and high officials in local administration and small towns. People knew their leaders not from newspapers or TV news but personally. They were used to listening to them, trusted them, were familiar with their previous work, and regarded them as seasoned leaders.” Cf. Alla Skvortsova. The Cultural and Social Makeup of Moldova: A Bipolar or Dispersed Society? // Kolstø (Ed.). National Integration and Violent Conflict.
[24] Valerii Moshniaga. Vooruzhennyi konflikt v Respublike Moldova i problema peremeshchennych lits // Moldoscopie. Problemy politicheskogo analiza. Sbornik statei. T. VII. Kishinev, 1995. Pp. 82-126.
[25] On the fighting in Bendery see [Erika Daley]. Human Rights in Moldova. The Turbulent Dniester. New York, NY, Washington, DC, 1993. Pp. 27-69; Neil V. Lamont. Territorial Dimensions of Ethnic Conflict. The Moldovan Case, 1991 – March 1993 // The Journal of Slavic Military Studies. 1993. Vol. 6. Pp. 576-612; Vladimir Socor. Russia’s Fourteenth Army and the Insurgency in Eastern Moldova // Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty Research Report, 1992. Vol. 1. No. 36 (September 11, 1992). Pp. 41-48; and Doklad pravozashchitnogo tsentra “Memorial”: Massovye i naibolee ser’eznye narusheniia prav cheloveka i polozhenie v zone vooruzhennogo konflikta v g. Bendery za iiun’-iiul’ 1992 g // Nezavisimaia gazeta. September 22, 1992. Pp. 4-5. The ultimate account of the Bendery events of 1992 has, however, still to be written.
[26] D. F. Kondratovich. Pridnestrovskaia revoliutsiia, 1989-1992 gg // Ezhegodnyi istoricheskii almanakh Pridnestrov’ia. 1999. T. 3. Pp. 23-25.
[27] David D. Laitin. Identity in Formation. The Russian-Speaking Populations in the Near Abroad. Ithaca, NY, London, 1998. P. 330. Cf. also Idem. Secessionist Rebellion in the Former Soviet Union // Comparative Political Studies. 2001. Vol. 34. P. 841; and Louk Hagendoorn, Hub Linssen, Sergej Tumanov. Intergroup Relations in the States of the Former Soviet Union. The Perception of Russians. Philadelphia, PA, 2001. Pp. 70-72.
[28] Uwe Halbach. Die Nationalitätenfrage: Kontinuität und Explosivität // Dietrich Geyer (Hrsg.). Die Umwertung der sowjetischen Geschichte. Göttingen, 1991. P. 211.
[29] Dan Ionescu. Life in the Dniester ‘Black Hole’ // Transition. 1996. Vol. 2, No. 20 (October 4). Pp. 12-14.
[30] Petra Bock, Edgar Wolfrum (Hrsg.). Umkämpfte Vergangenheit. Geschichtsbilder, Erinnerung und Vergangenheitspolitik im internationalen Vergleich. Göttingen, 1999. Back flap.
[31] Petra Bock, Edgar Wolfrum. Einleitung // Ibid. S. 9.
[32] Aleida Assmann, Ute Frevert. Geschichtsvergessenheit, Geschichtsversessenheit. Vom Umgang mit deutschen Vergangenheiten nach 1945. Stuttgart, 1999. S. 312.
[33] Wolfgang Kaschuba. Geschichtspolitik und Identitätspolitik. Nationale und ethnische Diskurse im Kulturvergleich // Beate Binder, Wolfgang Kaschuba, Peter Niedermüller (Hrsg.). Die Inszenierung des Nationalen. Geschichte, Kultur und die Politik der Identitäten am Ende des 20. Jahrhunderts (Reihe Alltag & Kultur. Vol. 7). Cologne, Weimar, Vienna, 2001. S. 24.
[34] Beate Binder, Wolfgang Kaschuba, Peter Niedermüller. ‘Geschichtspolitik’: Zur Aktualität nationaler Identitätsdiskurse in europäischen Gesellschaften // Hartmut Kaelble, Jürgen Schreiner (Hrsg.). Gesellschaften im Vergleich. Forschungen aus Sozial- und Geschichtswissenschaft. Frankfurt/M., 1998. S. 465-508.
[35] For recent case studies see Wilfried Jilge. Historical Memory and National Identity-Building in Ukraine since 1991 // Attila Pók, Jörn Rüsen, Jutta Scherrer (Eds.). European History: Challenge for a Common Future. Hamburg, 2002. Pp. 111-134; Hugh LeCaine Agnew. New States, Old Identities? The Czech Republic, Slovakia, and Historical Understandings of Statehood // Nationalities Papers. 2000. Vol. 28. Pp. 619-650; Wolfgang Höpken. Vergangenheitspolitik im sozialistischen Vielvölkerstaat: Jugoslawien 1944-1991 // Bock, Wolfrum (Hrsg.). Op. cit. S. 210-243; and Stefan Troebst. Geschichtspolitik und historische “Meistererzählungen” in Makedonien vor und nach 1991 // Österreichische Osthefte. 2002. Vol. 44. No. 1-2 (forthcoming).
[36] Wim van Meurs. Carving a Moldovan Identity Out of History // Nationalities Papers. 1998. Vol. 26. Pp. 39-56; Charles King. Ethnicity and Institutional Reform: The Dynamics of ‘Indigenization’ in the Moldovan ASSR // Ibid. Pp. 57-72; Idem. The Moldovan ASSR on the Eve of the War: Cultural Policy in 1930s Transnistria // Kurt W. Treptow (Ed.). Romania and World War II. Iași, 1996. Pp. 9-36; Oleg Galushchenko. Naselenie Moldavskoi ASSR (1924-1940 gg.). Kishinev, 2001.
[37] See Babilunga et al. Fenomen Pridnestrov’ia. Pp. 35-72, as well as Wim van Meurs. The Bessarabian Question in Communist Historiography: Nationalist and Communist Politics and History-Writing. Boulder, CO, New York, NY, 1994.
[38] Kazachestvo. Nepriznannaia respublika. Ocherki. Dokumenty. Khronika. T. 5: Dokumenty obshchestvenno-politicheskich ob”edinenii Pridnestrov’ia // V. F. Gryzlova i M. N. Guboglo (Ed.). Moscow, 1994. Pp. 47-88. See also I. A. Antsupov. Kazachestvo rossiiskoe mezhdu Bugom i Dunaem. Kishinev, 2000.
[39] Cf. Peter Holquist. From Estate to Ethnos: The Changing Nature of Cossack Identity in the Twentieth Century // Nurit Schliefman (Ed.). Russia at a Crossroads. History, Memory and Political Practice. London, Portland, OR, 1998; and Brian J. Boeck. The Kuban’ Cossack Revival (1989-1993): The Beginning of a Cossack National Movement in the North Caucasus Region // Nationalities Papers. 1998. Vol. 26. Pp. 633-657.
[40] V. Ia. Grosul, N. V. Babilunga, B. G. Bomeshko, M. N. Guboglo, G. A. Sanin, A. Z. Volkova. Istoriia Pridnestrovskoi Moldavskoi Respubliki. T. 1. Tiraspol’, 2000. S. 5. Volume two, which keeps with Soviet tradition in covering the post-1917 period, consists of two parts – before and after 1989. According to information from the co-author Babilunga (May 9, 2001), advance copies of the two parts of volume two have been printed, but due to lack of printing capacities, bookstores have not yet been supplied with copies. See, however, for a quintessence of volume two Babilunga et al. Fenomen Pridnestrov’ia. Pp. 22-241.
[41] Mark Bassin. Russia and Asia // Nicholas Rzhevsky (Ed.). Cambridge Companion to Russian Culture. Cambridge. 1998. Pp. 57-84. See also Caroline Humphrey. “Eurasia:” Ideology and The Political Imagination in Provincial Russia // C. M. Hann (Ed.). Postsocialism. Ideals, Ideologies and Practices in Eurasia. London, New York, NY, 2002. Pp. 258-276.
[42] Grosul et al. Op. cit. Pp. 51-54.
[43] N. V. Babilunga, B. G. Bomeshko. Stranitsy rodnoi istorii. Uchebnoe posobie po istorii dlia 5 klassa srednei shkoly. Tiraspol’, 1997. Inside cover. For the context see also Stefan Troebst. Wie ein skythischer Bogen. Transnistrien als slawisches Bollwerk zwischen dem Orient und Europa // Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 2002. No. 232. October 7. P. 8.
[44] Cf. the map Geopolitical Position // Dniester Moldavian Republic (Ed.). Atlas of the Dniester Moldavian Republic. 2nd edition. Tiraspol’, 2000. P. 7. For the topoi of the “middle” and “center” in geopolitical thought see Hans-Dietrich Schultz. Fantasies of Mitte: Mittellage and Mitteleuropa in German Geographical Discussion of the 19th and 20th Centuries // Political Geography Quarterly. 1989. Vol. 8. Pp. 315-339, and on patterns of mental mapping in Eastern Europe Stefan Troebst. ‘Intermarium’ und ‘Vermählung mit dem Meer:’ Kognitive Karten und Geschichtspolitik in Ostmitteleuropa // Geschichte und Gesellschaft. 2002. Vol. 28. S. 435-469.
[45] For the term “kishinevskii natsizm” see Volkova. Op. cit. Vvedenie, and for the slander “rumynskie liudoedy” a photograph dated June 1992 showing Transnistrian volunteers on a truck whose tailboard carries the graffiti “Death to the Romanian cannibals!” (Smert’ rumynskim liudoedam!) in a brochure by Valerii Kruglikov, N. Vorob’eva. Bendery. Leto-92. Voina (Fotoal‘bom). Bendery, 1995. P. 40.
[46] The TMR’s relationship with neighboring Ukraine is ambivalent. On the one hand, TMR diplomacy succeeded in securing Kiev’s participation as a co-mediator along with Russia and the OSCE in the conflict between Tiraspol’ and Chișinău in 1995 and in having Ukrainian peacekeeping troops deployed in order to safeguard, together with Russian, Moldovan, and Transnistrian troops, the security zone established after the armed clash over Bendery in July 1992 along the Dniester. On the other hand Smirnov’s personal relationship with his eastern neighbor is seriously strained by the fact that in September 1991 he was kidnapped in Kiev by the Moldovan secret service and brought to Chișinău with the knowledge and obviously the consent of the Ukrainian authorities. After several weeks in jail, he was released. Cf. Volkova. Op. cit. Ch. V.
[47] I. Smirnov. Pridnestrov’e – chastichka velikogo rossiiskogo gosudarstva // Dnestrovskaia pravda. 1995. September 23.
[48] Babilunga et al. Fenomen Pridnestrov’ia. Pp. 245. See also Nicholas Dima. Moldova and the Transdnestr Republic. Russia’s Geopolitics toward the Balkans. Boulder, CO, New York, NY, 2001.
[49] ZUBR stands for Za Soiuz Ukrainy, Belorussii i Rossii (“For a Union of the Ukraine, Belarus’ and Russia.”) Yet the Russian word zubr, meaning literally a European bison, stands in a figurative sense also for an arch-reactionary. The “TMR People’s Movement ZUBR,” founded in 2000 in Tiraspol’ by followers of the regime, claims to cooperate closely with ZUBR organizations in Kiev, Minsk and Moscow. See and (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[50] Grosul et al. Op. cit. P. 8.
[51] For example, TMR Minister of Defence Col. Shtefan F. Kitsak harshly criticized “the complaisance of Russia with regard to the advance of NATO to the East” during the May 1 celebrations of 2002 in Tiraspol’. Russia, according to the colonel, runs the risk of “degenerat[ing] into a mere principality of Muscovy.” See Tat’iana Georgiu. Pridnestrovtsy vystupaiut za samostoiatel’nost’ svoego gosudarstva // Ol’viia-Press. Informatsionnoe agentstvo. May 1, 2002. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[52] Gurii V. Sudakov. Shest’ printsipov russkosti, ili Kogda v Rossii poiavitsia prazdnik Datskogo korolevstva? // Rossiiskaia gazeta. September 17, 1999. P. 4. See also Gerhard Simon. Auf der Suche nach der ‘Idee für Rußland.’ // Osteuropa 1997. Vol. 47. S. 1169-1190; the documentation Rußland: Eine ‘nationale Idee’ per Preisausschreiben // Ibid. S. A 483 – A 498; Christiane Uhlig. Nationale Identitätskonstruktionen für ein postsowjetisches Rußland // Ibid. S. 1191-1206; and Jutta Scherrer. ‘Sehnsucht nach Geschichte.’ Der Umgang mit der Vergangenheit im postsowjetischen Rußland // Christoph Conrad, Sebastian Conrad (Hrsg). Die Nation schreiben. Geschichtswissenschaft im internationalen Vergleich. Göttingen, 2002. S. 165-206.
[53] Michael Thumann. Das Lied von der russischen Erde. Moskaus Ringen um Einheit und Grösse. Stuttgart, 2002. S. 127-128. See also Valerii A. Tishkov. Rossiia kak mnogonatsional’naia obshchnost’. Moskva, 1994.
[54] Sudakov. Op. cit.
[55] Vladimir Solonari. Creating ‘a People:’ a Case Study in (Post-) Soviet History Writing. A presentation to the Post-Communist Politics and Economy Workshop at the Davis Center for Russian and European Studies of Harvard University. 8 May 2002. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[56] Cf. Moldova Photo Gallery: Transnistria. Photographs “d00223-170.jpg” and “Tiraspoly.jpg”. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[57] The same applies to the series of one, five, ten and twenty-five ruble bills issued in 2000. Cf. the website of the Transnistrian Republican Bank at . Also, a recent set of stamps shows Suvorov: V Pridnestrov’e vypushchena novaia pochtovaia marka // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. June 28. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[58] See the article by KVINT executive director Oleg M. Baev. Suvorovskaia simvolika v produktsii zavoda ‘KVINT.’ // A. V. Suvorov glazami sovremennikov i potomkov. Irina Blagodatskich et al. (Ed.). Seriia “Pridnestrovskie istoricheskie chteniia”. T. 1. Tiraspol’, 2002, and the “Suvorov” section on the KVINT website at . In 2000, the Transnistrian Republican Bank has issued a five-ruble bill showing on the frontispiece a portrait of Suvorov and on the backside the building of KVINT headquarters. See (Last consulted march 25, 2003).
[59] Babilunga, Bomeshko. P. 3.
[60] See the map of Tiraspol’ in the Lonely Planet travel guide by Nicola Williams. Romania & Moldova. Hawthorne, Victoria, etc., 1998. P. 476.
[61] Cf. Moldova Photo Gallery: Transnistria. Photograph ‘d00223-046.jpg’ (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[62] Elfie Siegl. Drei Lenins in einer Straße waren einer zuviel // Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 2001. No. 286. December 8. P. 3, and (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[63] See (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[64] Litskai in a conversation with a group of German, Moldovan, and Russian social scientists on October 30, 2001, in Tiraspol’. Cf. Stefan Troebst. Moldova zwischen Ost und West: Nationale Identität und europäische Orientierung. Deutsch-moldauisches Symposium, Chișinău, Tiraspol’, Comrat, Republik Moldau, 27. Oktober – 1. November 2001 // Südosteuropa-Mitteilungen. 2002. Vol. 42. Issue 3. P. 86.
[65] In Russian “Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika”, in Ukrainian “Pridnistrovs’ka Moldavs’ka Respublika” and in Moldovan “Republika Moldoveniaskė Nistrianė” or “Republika Moldovenesht’ Nistrene”.
[66] Grigorii V. Volovoi. Krovavoe leto v Benderach. Khronika pridnestrovskoi tragedii. Bendery, 1993; Kruglikov, Vorob’eva. Op. cit.; N. V. Babilunga, B. G. Bomeshko. Bendery: rasstreliannye nepokorennye. Tiraspol’, 1993; Idem. Kniga pamiati zashchitnikov Pridnestrov’ia. A. A. Karaman (Ed.). Tiraspol’, 1995; Bendery 1408-1998 – proshloe, nastoiashchee, budushchee. Izdanie Gorodskogo Soveta narodnykh deputatov i Gosadministratsii. Bendery, 1998.
[67] Nikolai P. Rudenko. Dubossary – gorod zashchitnikov PMR. Dubossary, 1995; Viktor V. Diukarev. Dubossary 1989-1992 gg. Za kulisami politiki. Tiraspol’, 2000. Smirnov used the tenth anniversary of the fighting in Dubossary on March 2, 2002, to deliver a fierce anti-Chișinău speech and to stage an elaborate ceremony in the Dubossary memorial. Cf. Dubossary 10 let spustia // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. March 3. (Last consulted March 25, 2003). See the appeal of Smirnov to the inhabitants of the TMR: Obrashchenie k narodu prezidenta Pridnestrovskoi Moldavskoi Respubliki, 1 marta 2002 g // Ibid. 2002. March 1, (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[68] Andrei Safonov. Vzaimootnosheniia Moldovy i Pridnestrov’ia: Istoriia problemy i perspektivy (osnovnye aspekty) // Valeriu Moșneaga (Ed.). Statul național și societatea polietnică: Moldova în anii 90. Materiale I simpozion moldo-german (Chișinău, 13-18 octombrie 1996). Chișinău, 1997. P. 153.
[69] In a conversation during a Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict workshop on September 13, 1997, in Flensburg, Germany. At the workshop lead by Priit Järve. From Ethnopolitical Conflict to Inter-Ethnic Accord in Moldova. Flensburg, Germany, and Bjerremark, Denmark, September 12-17, 1997. ECMI Report, 1. Flensburg, 1998 (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[70] Novaia stolitsa Pridnestrov’ia (k voprosu ob”edineniia Tiraspolia i Bender) // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. May 29. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[71] On the attempts to negotiate a solution to the conflict since 1993, see Adam Daniel Rotfeld. In Search of a Political Settlement - The Case of Conflict in Moldova // Staffan Carlsson (Ed.). The Challenge of Preventive Di-plomacy. The Experience of the CSCE. Stockholm, 1994. Pp. 100-137; Claus Neukirch. Transdniestria and Moldova: Cold Peace at the Dniestr // Helsinki Monitor. 2001. Vol. 12. Pp. 122-135; Idem. Russia and the OSCE--the Influence of Interested Third and Disinterested Fourth Parties on the Conflicts in Estonia and Moldova // Journal on Ethnopolitics and Minority Issues in Europe. July 2001, (Last consulted March 25, 2003); Stefan Troebst. Der Transnistrienkonflikt und seine Bearbeitung durch die OSZE // Günter Baechler, Arno Truger (Hrsg.). Friedensbericht 1998. Chur, Zürich, 1998. S. 347-379; Idem. Kein spektakulärer Erfolg, aber Spannungen reduziert. Die OSZE in der Republik Moldova // Wissenschaft und Frieden. 1997. Vol. 15. No. 1. S. 23-27. (Last consulted March 25, 2003); Rolf Welberts. Der Einsatz der OSZE in Möglichkeiten und Grenzen des OSZE-Konfliktmanagements in Moldova // Ethnos – Nation. 1995. Vol. 3. No. 2. S. 71-84. For the most recent and again unsuccessful mediation initiatives of the OSCE of July 2002 and the Russian Federation of December 2002, see Vladimir Socor. Federalization Experiment in Moldova // Russia and Eurasia Review. 2002. Vol. 1. No. 4 (16 July). (Last consulted March 25, 2003); Bruno Coppieters, Michael Emerson. Conflict Resolution for Moldova and Transdniestria through Federalisation? / Centre for European Policy Studies Policy Brief. No. 25. London, August 2002. (Last consulted March 25, 2003); Protokol zasedaniia “Postoiannogo soveshchaniia po politicheskim voprosam v ramkakh peregovornogo protsessa po pridnestrovskomu uregulirovaniiu” (g. Moskva, 17-18 dekabria 2002 goda), (Last consulted March 25, 2003). A Declaration of Intent to renew talks on the basis of the federalization scheme proposed by the mediators on December 5, 2002 had not been signed by the Moldovan side. Cf. Moldova otvergaet predlozhenie mirovogo soobshchestva po uregulirovaniiu pridnestrovskoi problemy // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. December 7. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[72] Cf. Moldova Photo Gallery: Transnistria. Photographs ‘d00223-185.jpg’ and ‘d00223-186.jpg’. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[73] ‘My pomnim vse...’ V Pridnestrov’e nachinaiutsia meropriiatiia k 10-letnei godovshchine Benderskoi tragedii // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. June 18. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[74] Pridnestrovtsy protivopostavili sile oruzhiia silu pravoty. I vystoiali // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. June 19. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[75] I. Kozhuchar’. Slovo o polku Igoreve. Razdum’ia, naveiannye ocherednym prochteniem unikal’nogo proizvedeniia russkoi literatury // Pridnestrov’e. October 29-31 and November 1, 1996 (from the series “Lidery”).
[76] Deinenko et al. Op. cit. Pp. 5-13.
[77] Ibid. 4; N. Smirnov. Zhit’ na nashei zemle. Moskva, 2001.
[78] Volkova. Op. cit.
[79] Cf. and (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[80] Priznali lidera – priznaiut i respubliku! Cf. (Last consulted March 25, 2003).
[81] Ibid.
[82] Deutsche Presse-Agentur. Smirnov als Präsident der Dnjestr-Republik bestätigt // Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 2001. No. 288. December 1. P. 1.
[83] I. Smirnov. Dorogie chitateli! // Babilunga et al. Fenomen Pridnestrov’ia. P. 3.
[84] Ibid.
[85] That Zenovich was perceived by Smirnov as a serious competitor is demonstrated by the fact that he dismissed Zenovich as mayor of Bendery at the peak of the election campaign. See Aleksandr Isaev. Liuboi tsenoi uderzhat’sia u vlasti. Smeshchen s dolzhnosti glavnyi sopernik Smirnova na prezidentskich vyborakh v Pridnestrov’e // Nezavisimaia Moldova. 2001. No. 206 (2649). November 1. P. 1.
[86] Jeff Chinn. The Case of Transdniester (Moldova) // Lena Jonson, Clive Archer (Eds.). Peacekeeping and the Role of Russia in Eurasia. Boulder, CO, Oxford, 1996. Pp.103-120.
[87] N. V. Babilunga. Territorial’naia identichnost’ kak faktor politicheskoi stabil’nosti Pridnestrov’ia // M. N. Guboglo (Ed.). Ėtnicheskaia mobilizatsiia i mezhėtnicheskaia integratsiia. Moscow, 1999. P. 192.
[88] Ibid. See also M. N. Guboglo. Mezhnatsional’naia napriazhennost’ v real’nosti i v predstavleniiach grazhdan // Ibid. Pp. 172-184; and N. V. Babilunga. Ėtnicheskaia identichnost’ naseleniia Pridnestrov’ia // Ėtnicheskaia mobilizatsiia i mezhėtnicheskaia integratsiia: Istoriia. Faktory. Gorizonty. Nauchno-prakticheskaia konferentsiia. September 29, 1998. Doklady i soobshcheniia. Chisinau, 1999. Pp. 30-32.
[89] Vladimir Kolossov. A Small State vs. a Self-Proclaimed Republic: Nation-Building, Territorial Identities and Prospects of Conflict Resolution (The Case of Moldova-Transdniestria) // Stefano Bianchini (Ed.). From the Adriatic to the Caucasus. The Dynamics of (De)Stabilization. Ravenna, 2001. Pp. 98-104.
[90] Ibid. Pp. 100-101.
[91] Ibid. P. 101.
[92] Cf. Konstitutsia Pridnestrovskoi Moldavskoi Respubliki, Tiraspol, January, 17 1996 // Pridnestrov’e. Spetsial’nyi vypusk. No. 17 (287). January 31, 1996. P. 3. See also (Last consulted march 25, 2003).
[93] Zashchitniki Pridnestrov’ia: Prochti i peredai drugomu! Dorogie Pridnestrovtsy! Brat’ia i sestry! Tovarishchi i druz’ia! Uvazhaemyi Igor’ Nikolaevich! / Undated fly-sheet collected on October 18, 1997 in downtown Tiraspol’. I thank Klemens Büscher for providing me with a copy.
[94] Mathias Bernath. Das mazedonische Problem in der Sicht der komparativen Nationalismusforschung // Südost-Forschungen. 1970. Vol. 29. S. 244. For the decisive decade of Macedonian nation-building see Stefan Troebst. Yugoslav Macedonia, 1943-1953: Building the Party, the State and the Nation // Melissa K. Bokovoy, Jill A. Irvine, Carol S. Lilly (Eds.). State-Society Relations in Yugoslavia, 1945-1992. New York, NY, 1997. Pp. 243-266.
[95] John O’Loughlin, Vladimir Kolossov, Andrei Tchepalyga. National Construction, Territorial Separatism, and Post-Soviet Geopolitics in the Transdniester Moldovan Republic // Post-Soviet Geography and Economics. 1998. Vol. 39. Pp. 352. (Last consulted march 25, 2003). See also M. N. Guboglo. Tiazhkoe bremia konkuriruiushchich identichnostei. Opyt Pridnestrov’ia // Ezhegodnyi istoricheski almanach Pridnestrov’ia. 2000. T. 4. Pp. 13-35.
[96] See Miroslav Hroch. Real and Constructed: the Nature of the Nation // John A. Hall (Ed.). The State of the Nation. Ernest Gellner and the Theory of Nationalism. Cambridge, 1998. Pp. 91-106.
[97] Laitin. Identity. P. 260. On the Ruritanians-Megalomanians metaphor see Ernest Gellner. Nations and Nationalism. Ithaca, NY, 1983. Pp. 58-62.
[98] Laitin. Identity. P. 330.
[99] Ulrich Schneckener. Sezession als Konfliktlösung – Unabhängigkeit für Montenegro und Kosovo? // Leviathan. 2001. Bd. 29. S. 314-336. See also Idem. Auswege aus dem Bürgerkrieg. Modelle zur Regulierung ethno-nationalistischer Konflikte in Europa. Frankfurt am Main, 2002.
[100] Taras Kuzio. History, Memory and Nation Building in the Post-Soviet Colonial Space // Nationalities Papers. 2002. Vol. 30, P. 257. For the zigzag course in the post-Soviet continuation of Soviet-style Moldovan nation-building by indigenization see Charles King. Moldovan Identity and the Politics of Pan-Romanianism // Slavic Review. 1994. Vol. 53. Pp. 345-368; and Vladimir Solonari. Narrative, Identity, State: History Teaching in Moldova // East European Politics and Society. 2002. Vol. 16. Pp. 415-445.
[101] Andrei Mospanov. Pridnestrov’e: Trudnyi put’ k Evrope // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. December 25. (Last consulted march 25, 2003). The fact that this report was published by the official TMR press agency indicates that Za Evropu. Vzaimoponimanie i sotrudnichestvo NGO led by the journalist Anatolii Panin has considerable political support.
[102] Protokol zasedaniia Postoiannogo soveshchaniia. See also Moskovskie itogi: Vse-taki na dogovornoi osnove // Ol’viia-Press. 2002. December 19.