Dark Tourism: The Last of the USSR, Transnistria
The unrecognised country of Transnistria is a post-Soviet "frozen conflict" zone, situated between Moldova and Ukraine in Eastern Europe. Formally known as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (or 'PMR') this breakaway state proudly celebrates its Soviet heritage - statues of Lenin line the streets, while the Transnistrian flag is the only flag in the world to still feature the hammer and sickle emblem of communism. Eager to find out more about this reclusive and marginalised would-be nation, I braved the heavily militarised Transnistrian border, arriving in the capital of Tiraspol just in time for Independence Day. The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic One week ago I was sat in a trendy beer garden in Bucharest with a Romanian friend. I told him I was planning to visit Transnistria, and his response was a cocktail of surprise and disgust. "Why do you want to go there?" he asked. "This is a stupid place." Moldova itself was once a region of Romania, before Russian influence moulded it into the 'Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.' In 1991 the Soviet Republic became an independent state, but there are those on both sides of the border who regret the divide. Two days later, in the Moldovan capital of Chisinau, we sat chatting with a local student named Marin. "We are Romanians really," he told us, speaking on behalf of the Moldavian people. "We are the same blood, but Russia has made things complicated between us." The truth of his words was clear to see. I spotted graffiti ...