The self-proclaimed Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR; also known as Transdniester) is located in the south-west part of the Eastern European lowland, mostly by the left bank of the river Dniester (on the right bank of the river Dniester, PMR authorities are controlling six populated areas, including the city Bender). PMR’s total area is 4163 square kilometres and the total length of its borders is 816 kilometres (411 km is with the rest of Moldova, 405 km – with Ukraine). PMR does not have any access to sea.
PMR’s territory is mostly flat, in the north part of the self-proclaimed Republic is located the Podolian Upland, the highest point of which is 150 metres above the sea level. More than 80% of the region are covered by rich steppe, 10% of the region are covered by forests that are mainly located in the north part of the self-proclaimed Republic.
The climate in PMR is moderately continental with short and moderately cold winters (the average temperature in January is -3,9ºC) and with long, dry and hot summers (the average temperature in July is +21ºC).
По данным Государственной службы статистики Приднестровской Молдавской Республики (ПМР) на 1 января 2019 года в Приднестровье проживало 465 100 жителей. В свою очередь, согласно данным переписи населения за октябрь 2015 года, опубликованным правительством ПМР в мае 2016 года, число постоянных жителей Приднестровья составляет 475 600 человек, что на 14,3% меньше, чем в 2004 году.
Анализ населения и структуры ПМР затруднен не только отсутствием подробных данных переписи 2015 года, но и достоверностью этих данных, учитывая, что с 1998 года Национальное статистическое управление Молдовы прекратило публикацию ежегодных данных о населении Приднестровья и структурных изменених. Например, глава Приднестровского союза Украины Олег Хвощевский утверждает, что в перепись ПМР 2015 года также включены трудовые мигранты за рубежом и в действительности в регионе проживает всего около 342 000 человек.
PMR is divided in five districts (Grigoriopol, Dubasari, Camenca, Rîbnița and Slobozia) and two cities that are under the control of the Republic – Tiraspol (Capital) and city of Bender, located in the right bank of the Dniester river (controlled by PMR since 1992)
There are in total of eight cities located in PMR – Bender (according to the 2014 data, it has population of 91 882), Grigoriopol (population of 9381), Dnestrovsc (population of 10 436), Dubasari (population of 25 060), Camenca (population of 8871), Rîbnița (population of 47 949) and Tiraspol (population of 33 807); seven communes – Glinoe, Carmanova, Colosova, Crasnoe, Maiak and Solnecnoe; as well as 143 villages.
The Transnistria economic model combines the features of command economy inherited from the former USSR and free market economy features, which makes it economically uncompetitive and dependent on Russian subsidies.
The main export markets of Transnistria in 2019 were Moldova (38% of total exports), Ukraine (19%), Russia (13%), Romania (13%) and Poland (5%). Transnistria exports mainly metal products, agricultural products and foodstuffs, as well as electric energy.
The largest importers to Transnistria in 2019 were Russia (46%), Ukraine (15%), Moldova (9%), Belarus (4%) and Kazakhstan (4%). The determining factors in the structure of their import are natural gas, metals, food products and mechanical engineering products.
According to the data of the Transnistrian Ministry of Economic Development, in 2019 Moldova's GDP increased by 1%, in 2018 - by 3.6%, but in 2017 it decreased by 2.5%.
Data from the Bank of Transnistria show that the gross domestic product per capita in the self-proclaimed republic was 1839 USD. In 2018 and 2019, the average inflation level in Transnistria was 2.7% and 7%, respectively.
Since December 16, 2016, the President of Transnistria is Vadim Krasnoselsky. He was born in 1970 in Aizbaikal region, his family moved to Benderi (Moldova) in 1978. In 1993 he graduated with honors from Kharkiv Higher Missile Army Engineering School named after N.Krilov, and in 2000 – the Faculty of Law of the Transnistrian State University. From 1993 to 2006, he worked for the Transnistrian law enforcement agencies. In November 2006, V.Krasnoselsky held the position of the First Deputy Minister of the Interior of Transnistria, but from January 2007 to February 2012 – the Minister of the Interior. In 2008, V. Krasnoseļskis was awarded the rank of Major General of the Militia.
Since December 17, 2016, the Prime Minister of Transnistria is Alexander Martinov, who was born in 1981 in Tiraspol. Graduated with honors from Tiraspol Technical School of Informatics and Law. He has been the head of the Economics department of the Sports Club Sheriff, the director of the Tiraspol Hlebokombinat and the head of the committee of the Ministry of Economic Politics, Budget and Finance of the Transnistrian Parliament.
Since September 14, 2015 (until August 31, 2016 as the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs), the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Transnistria has been Vitaly Ignatyev. He was born on September 14, 1980 in Kotovsk (Odessa region). In 2002, he graduated from Department of Sociology, Faculty of History, Transnistrian State University named after T.Shevchenko. V.Ignatyev has been working at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Transnistria since September 9, 2002, in 2011 he was appointed acting Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, but in 2012 – as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Since December 26, 2016, the Minister of Defense of Transnistria is Major General Oleg Obruchkov. He was born on July 4, 1975 in the village of Parkanu in the Slobozia district of the Moldavian SSR. In 1997 he graduated from Transnistria State University named after T.Shevchenko, majoring in law. Since 1997, he has been serving in the Transnistrian Interior structures. From 2009 to 2016, he was Head of the Main Emergency Department of the Transnistrian Ministry of Interior.
Since the presidential elections in 2016, in which won V.Krasnoselsky, supported by the largest holding Sheriff of the self-proclaimed republic, a monopoly of power of the Sheriff's owner Viktor Gushan has been established in Transnistria. The post of President opened V.Krasnoselsky the opportunity for the Sheriff's representatives to replace a number of officials, strengthening their influence in the executive branch. In December 2016, V.Krasnoselsky was replaced from the post of Speaker of the Transnistrian Parliament by A.Shcherba, another representative of the Sheriff group. A.Martinov, the head of the committee of the Ministry of Economic Policy, Budget and Finance of the Transnistrian Parliament, was appointed as the Prime Minister. Vladislav Tidva, the former chairman of the board of Agroprombank, a member of the holding Sheriff, was appointed the head of the Central Bank, and Anatoliy Gurecky, who was once the president of V.Gushan's former Football Club Tiraspol, was appointed prosecutor.
PMR is considered as an self-proclaimed country, which independence has not been acknowledged by any UN mebmerstate so far and internationally it is beging defined as part of Moldova. At the same time, PMR statehood is acknowledged by Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Gorno-Karabakh’s self-proclaimed Republics.
Due to the PMR’s internationally unacknowled status, small size and the complete political and financial dependence from Russia, it is seen as an object, whose chances to create an independent foreign policy are restricted. Taking into account the aforementioned, PMR foreign political situation is defined mostly by the interaction between Russia, Wester countries, Ukraine and Moldova.
According to the Transdniester’s foreign policy concept, approved in 2012, Transdniester stands for stability and security in the region, where the most important elements are the presence of Russian peace keeping forces in the Transdniester’s conflict zone and the so-called 5+2 format discussions, where, apart from PMR and Moldova, are involved Russia, Ukraine, OSCE, USA and EU as well. The main directions of Transdniester’s foreign policy are defined in the concept. The main priority is given for relations with Russia, it is followed by relations with Ukraine, Moldova, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Gorno-Karabakh, only then follows other countries and international organisations.
It is noted in the PMR’s foreign policy concept that a priority foreign policy goal for the self-proclaimed Republic is a total Transdniester’s economic, cultural and political integration in Russia. In contrast to the previous (that was approved in 2005) foreign policy concept, where the priority foreign policy direction was set as relations with Moldova and CIS member states and relations with Russia were not specifically pointed out, in the current concept as the main priority is set the integration within the Russia’s controlled projects (Union of Customs, Eurasia Economic Union) and also integration within Russia’s territory. From one side, PMR’s authority initiatives regarding integration in Russia have served for the home policy goals, in order to strenghten their positions before the election and distract society’s attention from the severe financail economic situation, but on the other side – Russia has used them in separate occasions as an a mean of pressure in order to achieve its foreign policy goals. There is a clear correlation between these PMR’s initiatives and the aggavation in relations between Russia and Moldova and/or Russia and Ukraine.
Moscow has used Transdniester in order to block Moldova’s euroatlantic attempts and keep it under its influence. At the same time, Moscow has tried using the military pressence in Transdniester to prevent the placement of USA antiballistic defence system in Rumania, it is indicated in the Transdniester’s officials statements that due to it, there could be Russian operative tactical missile complex Iskander placed in Transdniester. Moscow’s longterm goal is to resolve the Transdniester’s conflict according to the Kozak Memorandum principles that were developed in 2003 and they foresee turning Moldova in a federation, Transdniester’s region would gain rights to block all of the Moldova’s home policy and foreign policy initiatives that are undesirebale to Moscow.
Moscow’s interest in resolving the Transdniester’s conflict that would be beneficial to them, was one of the main factors why Russia wanted the replacement of the self-proclaimed Republic’s perennial leader, Smirnov, in 2011, as he had a stubborn stance on the Transdniester region’s reintegration in Moldova’s territory. In order to prevent the reelection of Smirnov, in the 2011 Presidential election, in the Ruaain television channels that were broadly popular in Transdniester, were launced a campaign to discredit him by accusing him in corruption. Even though, in the 2011 PMR’s Presidentital election won the former chairman of PMR’s Parliament, Shevchuk, instead of Kremlin’s favourite, Kaminsky, it did not impede the development of the pragmatic relations between Moscow and Tiraspol. From one side, Shevchuk has shown loyalty to Russia, but on the other side, his home policy position is even weaker than Smirnov’s, who allowed Moscow to increase its influence in the region by using the contractdictions that exist within PMR.
Taking into account PMR’s large dependece from Russia, the 2014 Russian-Ukrainian conflict has left a considerable influence on Transdniester; because of it, Kiev sees PMR as a source for potential threats and has made several decisions that are both directly and indirectly directed to it. Firstly, in 2014, Kiev strictened the order regarding Transdniester’s men, who have Russian citizenship are between the ages of 17 and 65 and want to enter Ukraine. Secondly, in May 2015, Ukrainian Parliament denounced five military agreements with Russia: Agreement for Ukraine and Russia’s miliatry cooperation; Agreement for Russian military formation (that temporarily is located in the Moldova’s territory) transit through Ukrainian territory, Agreement for military interstate transport and payment, Agreement for military reconnaissance and Agreement for protection of mutual secret information. This decision complicated the functioning of the Russian forces that are located in Transdniester. Finally, there is a cordination between Ukraine and Rumania activities regarding the settlement of the Transdniester’s conflict. In 17 March 2015, after meeting Rumania’s President, Klaus Johaness, President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, announced that Kiev will coordinate its foregn policy with Buckarest in order to help Moldova in renewing its teritorial wholeness by reintegrating Transdniester.
In reaction to the aforementioned, since 2014, PMR’s authorities have came up with constant statements about the economic blockade in the self-proclaimed Republic implemented by Moldova and Ukraine (these statements allow to justify PMR’s authority incapacity to resolve the financial economic issues in the self-proclaimed Republic). However, the Ukraine’s large influence in the PMR’s economy and in the Transdniester’s conflict resolution discussion have made Tiraspol to take a conciliatory stance and avoid of positioning regarding the Donbass conflict, even though the Transdniester mass media in 2014 mostly repeated Kremlin’s version about the events in Ukraine by painting Kiev as a threat and a potential aggressor. According to the statement made by PMR’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vitaliy Ignatyev, in October 2016, one of the main PMR’s foreign policy priorities still is the development of relations with Ukraine. That is why Tiraspol has refused to officially comment on the Donbass conflict and form any kind of relations with the so-called Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics.