Transnistria: a “non-existent” country becomes a geopolitical catalyst

Transnistria is an enclosed “de facto” state bordered by Moldova to the west and Ukraine to the east. It is essentially a narrow piece of land along the bank of the Dniester River, approximately 4000 square kilometres in area, which has a population of 500,000 inhabitants (the majority of whom are Moldovans, Russians and Ukrainians). Transnistria seceded from Moldavia after a brief civil war following the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

It is not recognised as an independent state by the international community, not even by Russia, with which it nevertheless maintains close relations, as Moscow provides them with free natural gas and maintains troops in the region. In a referendum in 2006, the voters of the self-proclaimed republic voted by 93.1% in favour of independence from Moldova and union with Russia, with which the region does not even share a border!

Transnistria has its own currency (very close to the exchange rate of the Moldovan Leu), army, flag (the only one in the world with the communist hammer and sickle) and national anthem.

Its “capital” is Tiraspol and the current President of its semi-presidential republic is Vadim Nikolayevich Krasnoselsky who was elected in the 2016 presidential election with 62% of the vote.

The previous president of the country for 18 years (until 2011) was Igor Smirnov, who had previously been accused of being a member of the Sheriff business group while he was president of Transnistria. In fact, Sheriff had been accused of money laundering on behalf of the former president whose family controlled all economic activity in the country.

It is Sheriff who also monopolizes the majority of the economic activities in the region, owning gas stations, banks, industries, car dealerships, a publishing house and a television channel. It is even involved in football in the unrecognised state, founding in 1997 FC Sheriff Tiraspol, a famous football team that also takes part in the Champions League!