Transnistria: underwater?

It’s sometimes hard to get solid news about Transnistria. No international news agencies report regularly from there, and it doesn’t have a good English-language site. News stories about the breakaway state tend to come out of Russia, Moldova or Ukraine, often in the local languages.

So it’s not clear what impact the recent flooding is having there. (For our non-European readers, the last week has seen huge floods across southeastern Europe. There are at least 13 people dead in Ukraine and several more in Romania and Moldova, thousands of people have been evacuated, and the damage is in hundreds of millions if not billions of dollars.) Since Transnistria is basically a thin sliver of low-lying land along the bank of the Dniester river, you would expect they’d have problems, but it’s not easy to find out what’s going on.

Still, a sharp-eyed commenter posted these links: here and here. They’re Russian-language, but with lots of pictures.

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass reports that Ukraine has decided to release a huge amount of water through their Novodnestrovsky hydroelectric dam. If this happens, Transnistria might have to evacuate about 50,000 people — roughly 10% of its population. That should be interesting.

— I mentioned there are no good English-language sites for Transnistria. But there are several bad ones, most notably the Tiraspol Times and the Deciphering Transnistria “blog”. Both of these are astroturf sites; they’re always biased (Transnistria good, Russia good, Moldova very bad) and will sometimes just outright lie. They’re part of a pretty good disinformatsiya effort (some people think it’s run by this guy, a former “youth organizer” now associated with Transnistria’s secret police) that’s aimed at international English-speaking readers.

Anyway, both these sites are pretty bogus, and seem to exist mostly to provide “neutral” cites for Russophile bloggers and wikipedia editors. That said, they’re bogus in interestingly different ways. The Tiraspol Times is more classically Soviet, with lots of headlines like “To Transnistria’s plan of peace, Moldova responds with plan of war”. The Deciphering blog is more vaguely lefty anti-globalist why-can’t-we-all-be-friends-ish. They’re both drawing from the same well, but they’re using different buckets. I mention this because the Tiraspol Times has, so far, completely ignored the floods — 10% of the country’s population may be displaced, but their headline today is about how Moldova is destroying press freedoms — while Deciphering has an angry article about how the whole thing is Ukraine’s fault.

(Oh, and there’s also one English-language forum: this one. It’s pretty good, and doesn’t seem to be anyone’s astroturf project. Alas, it doesn’t get a lot of traffic.)

Anyway. Possibly Transnistria will come through just fine? It’s to be hoped.

21 thoughts on “Transnistria: underwater?

  1. From the German language “Pridnestrovie News” (although I have difficulties to evaluate the source, it seems quite direct; my own translation):

    Summary about the events in Transnistria – with photos from Tiraspol about the Dnjestr flood

    Bender (Tighina) – PMR 29 July 2008

    The inhabitants of the surrounding villages were not willing to leave their houses. Many fear that their cattle theft and plundering. Military and special forces as well as the police are try to calm down upset citizens. Vize president Korolev says that all affected persons are guaranteed an extensive protection of their property. The local agency of civil and catastrophe defence is announcing a flood level of about 11m. Houses and buildings have not been flooded yet. Several schools are available as emergency shelters. Work to secure the dams and dikes is going on under high pressure, chief of staff Anatoli Tshernik assures. Rumours that the drinking water supply has been suspended have not been confirmed by the authorities.

    Parkany (Area of Tiraspol) – PMR

    In the village of Parkany two dams have broken according to the state administration, but could be repaired immediately. All over the area patrols are controlling the status of dams and dikes. Nevertheless, the population is prepared for evacuation – says the leader of the state administration – Petr Nikolajev to the news agency Oliva Press.

    Border crossings to Ukraine closed

    The border crossings between Moldova and Ukraine have been closed. Between Transnistra and Ukraine in the Odessa oblast there is still processing going on.


    Moldovas president Vladimir Voronin has announced the state of emergence. Transnistrian president Igor Smirnov yesterday signed an emergency decree.Moldawiens Präsident Vladimir Voronin rief den for the Transnistrian Republic.

    Number of flooded houses rising

    More and more houses are flooded by the Dnjestr.

    [Photos on website]

  2. And another one from the same source (again own translation):

    Also Tiraspol is fighting more and more with the rising water level of the Dnjestr – bridge flooded

    Tiraspol, 30 July 2008 (New Region, Dmitri Matveev) – Last night the level of the Dnjestr has risen another 50cm in Tiraspol. In some areas, the critical level of 7m has been exceeded and reached 8.25m. One pedestrian bridge has been flooded and is impassable.

    The bridge is leading to Kitskany. Because of this, several smaller settlements are now difficult to access. In Tiraspol, the situation is tense because it is expected that lower places of the city will be flooded by waters coming out of the canalisation.


    [several photos]

  3. Ukrainiana blog has four videos on the flooding in Ukraine. This one has a flood map.

    According to these reports, so far 22 dead (six children), and estimated damage is 4 billion hryvnias or just under $1 billion.

    They also report that Odessa had major wind damage, which does not bode well for Transnistria.

  4. Come on, “astroturf” blogs, ordered by dark powers who HATE US?

    These “proofs” provided exclusively by CIA Radio Europe?

    Aren’t those a few too many conspiracy theories? What happened to the quality of this blog? How many of its editors ‘report’ regularly to their officers?

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  6. BTW, The Tiraspol Times is currently offline. Might be the water, might as well be something in the water. Just sayin’

  7. I can see just fine, so it is apparently back online. And Doug is being way to hard on the websites that he cites as astroturf. Just because CIA-founded and U.S. government funded RFE/RL says so? Yeah, right.

    I found more regular updates and photos of the actual situation in Transdniester can be seen here:

    It is from a blogger who lives in Tiraspol.

    Disclaimer: I found the link to her blog from the links section of

  8. @ Douglas and Christian.
    The reason that the Tiraspol Times did not published anything about the flood, is that have stopped to publish anything.
    As you can read in the its latest article; , the Tiraspol Times has not published for over 6 weeks because of a new Moldovan law that forbids publishing of any literature that’s promoting “territorial separatism”. That new law is obvious not without success now the pro-independent Tiraspol Times journalists became chicken, and don’t dare to publish any further.
    At this moment is the Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders in the same circumstance, because Jordan is trying to prosecute him internationally with the aid of Interpol. This because of his publishing of the anti-Islam film Fitna. Although I don’t like him, at least he did not give in under Jordan’s threats.

  9. Ron, I have trouble seeing how that law would stop the TT from “publishing”. It exists only online, and none of its journalists seem to live in Moldova.

    Doug M.

  10. Dan, I had to fish your comment out of the spam filter — it’s twitchy about comments with more than one link.

    And no, TT isn’t astroturf because RFERL says so. TT is astroturf because it’s astroturf. It’s consistently biased, it sometimes outright lies, and if you know anything about Transnistria you can see some fairly huge gaping holes in its coverage.

    RFERL is biased too, no question. But that particular article happens to be a fairly accurate summary, which is why I cited to it.

    Somebody’s paying a fair amount of money to keep TT afloat. They have a couple of full-time journalists, and they’re certainly not funding them with their ad revenue. (In fact, they’re spending money to put up banner ads on other websites.) It’s interestingly difficult to get any solid information about who that somebody is. So we’re left with speculation. But Transnistria does not have independent media, and if you think a cute little online newspaper is getting interviews with President Smirnov because, you know, they’re so plucky… well, I have some beachfront property in Chisinau to sell you.

    (N.B., it’s interesting that the commenters who are outraged about a cite to RFERL are simultaneously falling over themselves to believe in the sincere honest truthiness of TT. Go figure.)

    Doug M.

  11. It is still a joke cry foul at some local blogs with an ideological bend (as they all have their own) and make yourself a mouthpiece for the CIA conspiracy theories.

    If there’s one truly “Soviet”, concrete-head propaganda outlet here it’s Radio CIA Europe.

  12. @ Douglas

    I am sorry that I was not clear enough in my description of the reason why the Tiraspol Times does not publish.

    The key word is Interpol. If a state is a member of Interpol, they can put an offender of their laws on the Interpol list of wanted persons. That person than can be arrested through Interpol in any other Interpol-member state, even if the things that that person is accused of, is not seen as a violation in the member state in which he is arrested.

    In the case of Geert Wilders this mend, that he is accused in Jordan of an offence, that in many non-Muslim countries is considered to be just a case of freedom of opinion. Nevertheless when Jordan should make a request for his arrest through Interpol, he could be also arrested in those countries, and been hand over to the Jordan authorities.

    Reed (the word Interpol has left out in the English translation but can be found in the Dutch part.)

    The journalists of the Tiraspol Times claim to face the same situation as Geert Wilders is doing. If they will proceed with their pro-Pridnestrovian propaganda, there is a change that they be arrested, even when they are not in Moldova.

  13. Bias is one thing, outright lies are something completely different.
    Doug, while it is clear that you don’t like the pro-Transdniester bias of The Tiraspol Times, where do they lie?

    Please back up your claim that Tiraspol Times “will sometimes just outright lie” with concrete examples and weblinks to these outright lies published by them.

    Maybe you have The Tiraspol Times confused with The New York Times…

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  15. At the moment i am in Tiraspol (made a stop on my way from the Ukraine to Moldova), and in the capital the water is out of the streets. I notished that all the dirt is allready removed from the streets and basicly everything is back to normal. But of course, all the owners of damaged houses have still to overcome a lot of trouble. Hm, i never realized that it’s not easy to type letters in latin script on a russian computer!
    Greetings from Pridnestrovie, Ron.

  16. (Oh, and there’s also one English-language forum…)

    The only problem with “English Moldova” is that the useful input is from Marisha, the webmistress. Apart from that there are about half a dozen useless contributors who seem to be middle aged men from Western countries, who love mentioning how Muslims are evil, but try to hide their obsession with Moldovan girls…

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