Secret Nation


The BBC's Simon Reeve visits Trans-Dniester, a nation that broke away from Moldova more than decade ago but does not enjoy international recognition. Entering it, he writes, is "a bit like entering a Soviet Union theme park," thanks to the Bolshevist iconography that still decorates its public spaces; the country is run by "a mysterious firm called Sheriff," and one of its chief industries is smuggling.

Moldova sounds like a nice place, by the way:

Vladimir Voronin, the friendly president of Moldova, told me Trans-Dniester was a "black hole" for arms trafficking.

"There's uncontrolled migration, contraband, arms trafficking, the trafficking of human beings and drugs," he said.

"There are 13 enterprises in Trans-Dniester that are producing arms non-stop."

After talking, President Voronin opened a bottle of cognac and insisted I have a glass. We were finishing our second bottle when his wife returned with the weekly shopping.


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  1. “There’s uncontrolled migration, contraband, arms trafficking, the trafficking of human beings and drugs,” he said.

    “There are 13 enterprises in Trans-Dniester that are producing arms non-stop.”

    Well, with the guns and drugs it sounds like a fun place to have a bachelor party!

  2. Open borders too! But what’s contraband besides drugs and guns?

  3. And I’m sure they could hook you up with some sexy Russian models for the bachelor party. And who doesn’t like Eastern European chicks?

    Really, this Trans-Dniester is sounding more and more like the ultimate bachelor party destination. If my brother ever gets married I’ll plan a bachelor party in Trans-Dniester.

  4. Hey, maybe we could all go there before Mo’s wedding with the 300 Arabs and libertarians in attendance!

    Imagine the FBI’s response when they find out that a bunch of the attendees just returned from a weekend in a haven for arms smuggler!

  5. Fuck the Moldovans. They are oppressing, my peeps, the Csango.

  6. Careful NH, the Free Staters are looking seriously at Trans-Dniestr now…

    But what’s contraband besides drugs and guns?

    Pirated DVDs? Nailclippers? Bags of flowers and dirt?

  7. crimethink: I think you nailed it with the, uh, clippers. At CDG airport in Paris, they have a display case of endangered species stuff they’ve seized. At Heathrow there is a nice transparent container full of nail clippers and plastic razors.

  8. Paging Mr Ruthless, Paging Mr Ruthless, you’re country has arrived….

  9. This place sounds like somewhere I’d love to visit. I can buy my foreign “wife” over there, a bunch of automatic weapons, some drugs, and just live the life. Course, I’d have to find a way to smuggle it all back here to the US, but I’d find a way!

    On the topic of nail clippers and plastic razors being confiscated…WTF??? Does anybody seriously think that a plane will get hijacked with either of those instruments? Give me a break.

    But of course, it must look like the gov’t is doing something!! They have to justify all of our stolen money their spending on “security” somehow, eh?

  10. I can’t wait for the day a terrorist tries to hijack a plane with a pair of nail clippers, that happens to be the flight I and the bachelor party I’m with are taking to Trans-Dniester.

    They think the folks on Flight 93 were a tough bunch, wait’ll they get a load of the folks on my flight!

  11. The most interesting comment in the article to me was … in many ways Trans-Dniester appeared wealthier.
    A whole nation that just keeps it’s head down and does it.

  12. From the way it was described by Mr. Walker, it all sounds like the plot to a satirical novel by Vladimir Nabokov.

  13. I bet they have lousy patent protection.

  14. Trans-Dniestr exists as a separate entity because Russia has a bunch of soldiers illegally keeping the government of Moldova out. Moldova is mostly agricultural with most of its industry concentrated in Trans-Dniestr. The observation that industrialized urban areas tend to be wealthier than agricultural/pastoral zones doesn’t say much about comparative competence of governments (both of which, in this case, are pretty bad) but rather that the industrial revolution was a great leap in wealth creation for humanity.

    The troops will leave from Trans-Dniestr, South Ossetia, and all of the rest of the leftover imperial outposts in the CIS. I’m not quite sure I understand why agitprop for totalitarianism seems to be so popular for the Hit and Run regulars but it’s certainly unattractive.

  15. “There’s uncontrolled migration, contraband, arms trafficking, the trafficking of human beings and drugs,” he said.

    Yep, that’s Miami all right.

  16. Well this thread has probably died, so I am afraid I won’t get an answer to this. In the BBC article the writer says there a couple of dozen of these shadow countries. Next up is Taiwan. I can imagine that Gaza and the West Bank are on the list. Maybe Sealand, too. Of the part of Yellowstone Par in Idaho. 🙂 Any ideas what other “countries” could be on this list?

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