What makes a country? Is it borders, a local currency, a parliament, a military? Transnistria has them all. Nonetheless, this small autonomous republic has existed without any recognition from other sovereign states since 1992 -the year it declared its own independence from Moldova and sought to return to the Soviet Union.
The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is home to a half-million people who see themselves as Russians, Ukrainians or Moldovans. More than anything, though, they see themselves as Soviet citizens.
Transnistria maintains a Soviet feel that can be described as « surreal », with the flag sporting the hammer and sickle emblem of Communism. But there is more to that. When entering the country in June 2012 with fellow photographer Nicolas Leblanc (visit his website), when the National Youth Week kicked off, we were given the chance to take part in important events such as “Children Day” and the “Bachelors Parade”. What we discovered in Transnistria is similar to a fallacious fairy tale: elect a place, establish boundaries and close it to the rest of the world for 20 years. Make the people believe they are the center of things and that they benefit from the help of a mighty protector (Russia). Influence the youth with a strong ideology and promise what life has best to offer. But do nothing to help. This is the true story of Transnistria. And a very sad one indeed.