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.