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of a BBC television programme on Transnistria
"There was a BBC television programme yesterday at 9:30pm on Transnistria and Moldova. The latter covered at least one quarter of the 35 minutes viewing time.
The programme was part of a series looking at countries which have no recognised status - Transnistria. There are a large number of them. It started with a visit to a village in south west Moldova where 42 men had sold their kidneys for about 2,000 British Pounds each. As they travelled up the wide and deep rutted track, I have to say I felt some fear (as if I was there !). All the houses and fences were brightly and cheerfully painted. When some of the Moldovans were introduced I felt much more at ease.
The programme then shifted to Chisinau and the annual independence celebrations. Simon Reeve the journalist met the president of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, who said he was sad that the Transnistrians wouldn't let him visit his mother there. The celebrations got into full swing with people dancing around in the street. I liked the atmosphere. There were soldiers in tall grey and red caps with bolt action rifles marching about. I found the rather unfamiliar looking uniform a bit surprising and slightly alarming at first. Then a middle aged Russian lady protested saying something about white flowers I think it was. She was lead away by the police in an old olive green van.
Then the team with the guide Liliana (there from the start) headed into Transnistria. The police were not happy about the film equipment but the BBC team had all the necessary passes. They showed filming of Tiraspol which seemed surprisingly clean and well ordered. When asked about the Lenin statue, the official guide said that it was made by a good sculptor, so why remove it ? I have to agree that it looked quite artistic.
They showed the inside of Simon Reeve's hotel room. All the rooms are single except for one which had been booked. The rooms were also apparently bugged by the Transnistrian security services. (He said "Transnistrian KGB").
There was a tour around a very modern looking steel works. This was apparently one of 13 sites the President of Moldova had identified as being an arms factory. A factory spokesman or worker pointed out a consignment of steel which had been destined for the UK. It had a metal plate on it saying "Made In Moldova". It could not be sent however because of economic sanctions imposed by the Moldovan government since the Transnistrian government had stopped the teaching of "Moldovan" in their schools. The worker or spokesman described this as "economic warfare".
There was then a visit to the Transnistrian- Ukrainian border which in that part was non existent. Apparently a lot of arms are being manufactured in Transnistria and shipped via Odessa. The Ukrainian and Transnistrian customs are corrupt. The latter is run by the Transnistrian President's son. (Smirnov). There is a lot of heavy industry in Transnistria.
The film then moved to the Sheriff football stadium which had apparently received great praise from Seb Blatter, President of UEFA, Europe's supervising football authority. For political reasons, a match planned there between Moldova and Italy (I think it was) was moved to the crumbling Chisinau Football stadium. Moldova lost one - nil. The front of the stadium featured a large Mercedes showroom containing a $60,000 car. The obvious point was made that the province has great extremes of wealth within it.
The next item was Transnistria's independence celebrations. There were some fairly gaunt, very tough looking men marching with their automatic rifles. Some on the spot interviews revealed that those people who spoke are very comfortable with Transnistria remaining separate. The red Transnistrian passport was shown in detail. People were asked about their attitude to it. Those who spoke were very jolly and relaxed about it. There was some commentary on the Transnistrian currency and the lack of faces on the notes.
Finally, the programme makers went to north Transnistria to a "secret" military base where they were barred at all road junctions. Tramping across the fields, they were soon stopped and their equipment temporarily confiscated.
So that's about it. If I'm missed something out, it won't have been much !"
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