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OFF THE MAP - Transnistria

To preserve their Russian language and identity, the inhabitants of the narrow region sandwiched between the Dniester River and the Ukraine declared in 1990 their independence. Two years later, they had to defend with weapons what they now consider their country. From the inside, Transnistria has all the characteristics of a state: government, currency, passport, borders and armed forces. However for the outside world they do not exist as the International Community do not recognize their independence.

How do you live in a place that does not exist on any map of the world? What is really the price of being a pariah within the International Community? These questions served as a starting point for my project.

The unilateral separation from Moldova, created a kind of bubble, where non-recognition and legal limbo allow opaque and doubtful business, opening the way to poverty and inequality. Today the economic and political life of the region is practically governed by the oligarchs. The lack of recognition marks everyday life down to the smallest details and if until now Transnistria has been able to maintain itself it is thanks to the Russian economic support.

Transnistrians in general consider themselves as patriots and claim to love their country. However, the lack of work, isolation and the difficult economic situation push many to emigrate. Little by little the region is depopulating, leaving behind children and grandparents. For those who stay, the identity problem begins to take a back seat. In the words of some of the interviewees: “Identity does not fill your stomach”.


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