You know, one of the few benefits of this insane war against commonsense, democracy, and logic is that Pridnestrovie (aka “Transnistria”) has not let in any casual tourists for more than a year.
Actually, I loved meeting the tourists, and it was good for the economy as well, but a surprisingly large number of people during the Before Times came here just to invent bizarre facts and weave paranoid schizophrenic fantasies out of whole cloth.
So yeah, it was nice having my Pridnestrovie news feed “only” contain the usual bullshit coming out of Moldova, home to the world’s most dysfunctional government, and the usual Western-sponsored propaganda outlets.
Unfortunately, two days ago, Vice News decided to make up a brand-new story about Pridnestrovie without even coming here.
Think about what kind of job that is, working for Vice. You are paid to be a “journalist,” and yet you do zero research and don’t even go to the place you are “investigating.”
Make Up Whatever Facts You Like
And the Vice article starts out with a bang:
Dubbed the most lawless place in Europe, Transnistria is a sliver of land along Moldova’s eastern frontier where the black market is king.
Not only is the black market not “king” around here, it does not even exist.
As for “lawless,” that makes me laugh. This country is incredibly regulated and safe, and peaceful. In fact, there is barely any violent crime here at all, and most police officers aren’t armed (at all, not even a truncheon) and don’t even carry handcuffs.
But let’s continue, shall we?
It came into being in 1992 after its mostly Russian population fought to avoid being sucked into Romania’s sphere of influence.
One, it came into being in 1990. Last year was the big thirtieth-year celebration. Get a clue!
Two, less than a third of the people here are Russian.
Three, that’s the most bizarre way of framing the 1992 war that I’ve ever heard.
Anyway, let’s continue with Vice’s delusional rant:
Since then it has become a smugglers’ paradise, as billions of dollars worth of goods – from weapons to bootlegged cigarettes and alcohol – have passed across its porous borders to and from the nearby Black Sea, enriching customs officers, government officials, and local traders alike.
Uh, no, no, and no.
This whole thing about “smuggling” refers to something that ended sixteen years ago.
At the time, Ukrainian mafia guys were (legally) importing goods through a secondary port near Odessa called Chornomorsk. Since the goods were marked for export, the importers did not pay any tax.
The goods were then (legally) exported to PMR, as it is just a short distance away.
At that point, the goods were (illegally) smuggled across the border back into Ukraine, by the Ukrainian mafia, and sold in the black market in Ukraine. Literally, every single person committing a crime during this operation was Ukrainian.
And the reason I know all this is because the European Union wrote a very long report about it before spending several million dollars to finance EUBAM in 2005.
Since then, Ukraine cleaned up its act, and nobody is doing any big-time smuggling to avoid customs dues anymore.
Furthermore, there is not a shred of evidence anywhere that a single gun has ever been smuggled or illegally transferred or sold from PMR or a person from PMR. Not one gun, bullet, or grenade. Ever.
Lastly, you’d need to be as retarded as a Vice writer in order to smuggle cigarettes either in or out of PMR.
Smuggling them in to Pridnestrovie would piss off the government (defrauding them of valuable assize duties), and smuggling them out would be a waste of money as cigarettes are far cheaper in both Moldova and Ukraine (the two countries that PMR borders).
Quite literally, every “fact” in the article is wrong except for PMR being to the east of Moldova.
Children of the Digital Corn
As I mentioned before, I consider Tiraspol to be The Beach, and that means I really don’t talk about most of the cool and awesome stuff that goes on here.
In fact, ordinarily, I wouldn’t even bother rebutting something as stupid as that Vice article because there are dozens more like it (including some linked to from inside the Vice piece itself where the author is literally scared out of his wits after seeing two 12-year-old boys wearing boxing gloves during a boxing class).
But the other day, I saw a video that made me reconsider my “Beach oath” somewhat.
The video was from a woman whose parents had fled the Soviet Union, and she was born and raised in the United States.
Somehow, she discovered Pridnestrovie on the internet and was horrified to discover that it’s a “living memorial” to the Soviet Union inside Europe, etc, etc.
I guess what I’m trying to say is that I forgot that the unending tsunami of lies and fake crap about this country isn’t just being read by fascist partisans, “journalists” and “policymakers,” but by ordinary people who are curious about the world, and maybe start investigating their heritage.
Therefore, I have a message for you, any of the kids of people who left/fled/escaped the Soviet Union or some other country with Communism and might have heard that PMR (aka “Transnistria”) is a small “slice” of the Soviet Union.
First of all, no it’s not true, at all.
In fact, the way things work around here is exactly the mirror opposite of how it is portrayed.
It’s actually Moldova which still loves Lenin (and has more statues of him in public), which still admires Communism, has a Soviet mentality, and is a lawless place where weapon, alcohol, and cigarette smuggling is commonplace.
Pridnestrovie, however, kept some of the Soviet symbols unchanged, particularly the official version of the national flag, so that’s what confuses people.
So yeah, it’s mostly a “branding” thing.
Moldova is marketed as a legitimate country and a “democracy” but really, it is the lawless land that is virtually unchanged since the Soviet days.
Which makes Moldova sound pretty bad, and it is, sometimes, but it is a place that is struggling to build its own identity along many axes in spite of the titanic outside forces jostling for power and control over it, so Moldova is a country that is really hurting sometimes.
Whereas everyone here in Pridnestrovie is perfectly comfortable in their identity, their national purpose, and their place in the world. The Soviet symbols are mostly about honoring the roles that a lot of people who live here played, including fighting the Nazis during World War 2 and building huge industrial things to improve people’s quality of life such as the two hydroelectric dams here.
Perhaps another way to say it is that PMR kept all the “good” parts of the Soviet Union such as honoring workers (every trade gets its own official holiday here still), caring for the elderly and infirm, and a strong commitment to ethnic equality (“brotherhood of nations”).
But PMR dumped the rest of the Soviet bullshit (such as anything related to Communist ideology or political theory) for a completely “Western” style of modern life.
Moldova, meanwhile, stuck with some of the worst parts of the Soviet Union, like autocratic bosses, a “blame game” mentality, and a stifling, inefficient bureaucracy.
When a citizen deals with the government in Moldova, everything is based on handwritten pieces of paper. In PMR, almost everything is done electronically. And if you don’t have internet, you can still handle much of your government business via kiosks at the grocery store.
And while many, many, people in Moldova are still paid with envelopes of cash, including government workers, here, people are paid via automatic deposits using PMR’s proprietary digital money network.
I can buy a kilogram of apples at the market in Tiraspol by scanning a QR code with my phone while most people in Moldova don’t even know what a QR code is.
Anyway, you get the point, and I’ve said enough as it is.
If you’re thinking that “Transnistria” is the place where your parents, grandparents, cousins, or whomever had to “escape” from during the days of the Soviet Union, then you have been misinformed.
Whatever it is that they left, you won’t find it here.
Except for the flag of course. That part is true 😎