An appeal to national pride has become a kind of mainstream for post-Soviet politicians and businessmen. More and more often, no matter what part of the CIS one lives in, one hears daily speeches full of pathos about the obvious superiority of only one – “our” – culture over the rest of the world, about the special, different from all others, way of development that is genetically inaccessible to foreigners. All the troubles and hardships, failures and crises, all the bumps on “our” way to a bright future are obviously the malice of a nation hostile to us. And the conclusion is often the same: if we get rid of these people, of their national identity or, at least, of their representatives in “our” land, we will get rid of many problems. It sounds familiar, doesn’t it? We could literally drown in examples – starting with the animalistic Russophobia in the Baltic states and Ukraine and ending with the idea of physically removing Central Asian migrants seeking a better life in Russia. Such sentiments have already taken their rightful place at the level of everyday life even in the most apolitical sections of society. However, strange as it may seem, there is a rather insignificant, but no less interesting example of so-called Pridnestrovie. It is a region where people of few similar cultures (and even, shockingly, shades of skin) cohabit quite peacefully and without pronounced hatred. Where, in spite of all the negative features of the bourgeois media, you won’t hear about “invented nations” or “a nation of angry, bloodthirsty orcs” on the blue screens. Let’s talk a little bit about this subject.
Pridnestrovie, aka PMR (“Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic”), is a state that you cannot find on most maps of the world. A tiny, virtually unrecognized piece of land on the edge of Europe, squeezed between two giant bodies of unfriendly neighbors. The region, which would seem to have withered away and disappeared from the face of the earth because of banal geographical conditions, has been remarkably resilient and is even a unique example of a truly international state for a multi-ethnic European republic. Sometimes, just walking down the street, you can hear a dozen different dialects. Here are some statistics.
According to the results of the census, the three most numerous nationalities in Pridnestrovie are Russians (33.79%), Moldovans (33.16%), and Ukrainians (26.66%). In addition, there are many other nationalities, such as Bulgarians (2.74%), Gagauzians (1.22%), Belarusians (0.58%), Germans (0.31%), Poles (0.25%), Armenians (0.17%), Jews (0.15%), Tatars (0.11%), Azerbaijanis (0.10%), Gypsies (0.05%). Impressive, considering that we are now looking at a tiny state with a population of only 469,000 people. It’s actually 25 times less than the population of Moscow alone (11.92 million people)! It is necessary to make some understanding. The Moldavian language is a part of the Romance group; hence it is not even close to any Slavic. At the same time, largely thanks to the policy of the local authorities, and largely because of objective economic reasons, conflicts on such undoubtedly important grounds, as a rule, do not occur. For example, at a Russian-Moldovan wedding, you can see the young couple’s relatives celebrating together, singing their national songs in, respectively, two different languages. At the same time not feeling the slightest discomfort. Let’s consider the specific reasons for internationalism in a small European country.
First of all, there is no one particular state language in the PMR. The most common languages are officially recognized as state languages – Russian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian. All of them are used in one way or another on an equal basis in business documentation, school and university education, state information agencies, etc., etc. This undoubtedly wise decision eliminates linguistic discord at its root because, in the end, none of the three major nationalities was left to suffer and resist the “prisoner state”. Therefore, any rather popular talk today about recognizing the Russian language as the only one worthy to be used officially must be suppressed and not even discussed. Likewise with the other two.
Second, we cannot avoid mentioning the state ideological agenda, which is quite peculiar for the CIS countries. We have long been accustomed to aggressive, intrusive anti-Soviet propaganda from every newspaper. Whether it is the demolition of Soviet monuments and other infrastructure in fraternal Ukraine or the caustic smearing of everything related to communism in Russia. In the PMR, however, things are somewhat different. The Soviet past is in most cases mentioned positively, and the moment of transition to the market is presented not as a “long-awaited liberation from the red tyrants,” but rather as a forced necessity. Monuments to Vladimir Lenin and other socialist activists have remained, as have Soviet street names. Even the hammer and sickle in the flag of the country have not been removed. What is the reason behind the loyalty of the bourgeois government to a regime that is, in essence, hostile to them? The answer is, as always, on the surface.
The monument of Lenin in front of governmental building in the PMR
The fact is that the emergence of Pridnestrovie as an independent state in 1990 was a sign of protest against the growing nationalist pro-Romanian sentiment in Chisinau and, thus, the oppression of the Russian population in Tiraspol (the actual capital of the PMR). The Moldovan right-wing figures, considering Antonescu’s Romania as their role model, labeled the Soviet authorities as the occupier, thus justifying the step-by-step Romanization in their country (denial of the Cyrillic alphabet, denial of the Moldovan nationality in favor of so-called “Great Romania”, etc.). The period of occupation of the Pridnestrovian region by the German-Romanian invaders is remembered by the local population as one of the largest repressions and persecutions, and the term “Transnistria”, so often used by Western politicians, has remained a black spot in our history forever. The term Transnistria was invented and commonly used by the Romanian invaders. Pridnestrovie is the only one accepted by the local population. Therefore, the Pridnestrovian authorities may have wanted to sit on two chairs – to denigrate both the communist liberators and the nationalist occupiers, but they cannot. Therefore, they had to choose the best of “evils”.
Romanian nationalists in Moldova
In addition, as we know, nationalist and anti-Soviet sentiments are always directly sponsored by the social stratum of the exploiters to lull the class consciousness of the workers and foment discord among them. This is the basis of the power of parasitic usurpers. But it so happens that in Pridnestrovie the factory workers, as the most disadvantaged stratum of society, are absent. The overwhelming part of the TMR population is made up of intellectuals, merchants, and, remarkably, unemployed pensioners. (The phenomenon of the depopulation of the PMR is a topic for a separate article). At the same time, active and progressive young people in search of a better life are leaving their native country. As a result, there is no fierce class struggle and no interest of workers in politics (as a consequence of the former). As was examined in our other article about Pridnestrovie, the working class perished artificially. This means that the capitalists, who are not worried about the threat to their property inside the country, have no one to corrupt with chauvinistic sentiments, since the masses cannot, and do not want to, oppose them. There is no urgent need for an anti-Soviet agenda.
It is also worth mentioning the attempt of local authorities to create an image of a single Pridnestrovian nation. At the same time, the Pridnestrovian nation acts not as a mono-national community, but on the contrary, as a voluntary union of many peoples under a single roof. At the same time, the respect and reverence of the constituent parts of the nation are preserved. Thus, for example, the history books and various articles deliberately emphasize the isolation from the right side of the Dniester River, i.e. Moldova. The mono-ethnic Moldova is contrasted with the uniqueness of Pridnestrovian history, starting almost from primitive times. However, fortunately or unfortunately, this idea did not take root among the population. As the sociological survey shows, the majority continues to refer to a specific ethnicity (Russians, Moldovans, etc.). Moreover, the mass pro-Russian sentiments do not allow the ideologists to present Transnistria as something separate and original from Russian history and culture (based on the results of the 2006 referendum, 97.1% voted for unification with Russia).
So, what do we end up with? Pridnestrovie is undoubtedly an example of a truly international state. In this small Eastern European republic, you will not find overt decommunization and violent national hysteria. The Pridnestrovian people, in their struggle against Moldovan-Romanian chauvinism, have been able, despite the many natural contradictions of capitalism, to build a society where dozens of people live in peace and absolute harmony. We, the people’s socialists, have only to watch the rather heated situation in the region and hope that hostile forces (internal or external) will not be able to sow the seed of national discord and turn peaceful laborers against each other. After all, no matter what, the main enemy of the working people is the capitalist class, the cornerstone of a resurgent fascism.
Author and translator: Robert Jordan