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Transnistria - the county that barely exists

Trans-Dniester Region or Transnistria (2004 preliminary pop. 555,000), between the Dniester River and the Ukrainian border. A narrow territory some 120 mi (195 km) long but barely 20 mi (32 km) across at its widest, Transnistria has a mainly Russian and Ukrainian population (59.2%, slightly more of whom are Russian) that objects to Moldovan-Romanian rapprochement.

Armed clashes between Moldovan forces and Trans-Dniester secessionists (mostly Russians and Ukrainians) led to Russian army intervention on the side of the secessionists in the early 1990s, and the proclamation of a Trans-Dniester Republic, with Tiraspol as its capital. The republic has not been internationally recognized. A peace accord with the Moldovan government giving the region greater autonomy was signed in 1997.

Beyond the control of any strong national government, the region has become an international transit center for smuggled goods; metal and electronic goods, textiles, and wine are produced. A Russian-sponsored peace plan for the region was rejected by Moldova in Nov., 2003, after Moldovan demonstrations against it; the deal would have permitted Russian troops to remain until 2020. Under pressure from the European Union , which was concerned about the region's involvement in smuggling, Ukraine began requiring in 2006 that goods from Transnistria be cleared by Moldovan customs. Transnistria denounced the new rules as an economic blockade, and refused to allow cargo to cross its border with the Ukraine, a move the Ukraine termed a self-blockade.

A regional referendum in Sept., 2006, approved independence and eventual union with Russia. The vote, however, was rejected by Moldova, the EU, and most other nations, with the major exception of Russia, but there was little sentiment in Russia for union with the region.

Maps and info found in the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition 2008

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