June 4, 2012

0236 TRANSNISTRIA – A retired aircraft

To understand what is the deal with Transnistria (the name means Beyond the river Dniester), you should know some history of Moldavia (Moldova in romanian), and for that we must go back almost 700 years ago. Well, as is said in Chronicle from Putna, "in year 6867 from the creation of the world (1359 AD), with God willing, have started the country of Moldavia". Namely in 1352, Louis the Great, King of Hungary and Croatia, has set a mark between the Carpathians and Siret, intended to defend the Hungarian kingdom against Tartars invasions, and its leadership entrusted it to Dragoş, a romanian voievod (voivode) from Maramureş, at that time a possession of the crown. 

In 1359 another former voivode from Maramureş, Bogdan, "inveterate unfaithful" towards the king of Hungary, crossed the mountains in Moldavia and took the lead of the country. King Louis "made war (…) against the Moldavians almost every year", but couldn't force Bogdan’s allegiance, so Moldavia remained independent. 1359 is therefore considered the founding year of Moldavia, and Bogdan will be called later "the Founder". The Ottomans, who will reach in the area over a century, will be called Moldavia Iflak Bogdan (Bogdan's Wallachia), to distinguish it from Wallachia itself, Kara Iflak. Aren't known the borders of the country on the reign of Bogdan, but 30 years later, Moldavia reached its natural limits, i.e. Carpathian Mountains on West, Cheremosh (Ceremuş) River on North, Dniester (Nistru) River on East, and Black Sea, Lower Danube and Milcov River on South.

After the first partition of Poland (1772), Austrian Empire needed northern Moldavia for a road between Galicia and Transylvania, so annexed it in January 1775, including Suceava (the capital fortress of Moldavia between 1388 and 1565), naming this region Bukovina. The 1792 Treaty of Jassy forced the Ottoman Empire to cede territories on the left bank of the Dniester River to Russia, the Empire acquiring a common border with Moldavia. The result was the cession of all the territories between the Prut and Dniester to the Russian Empire in 1812. Russians extended the name Bessarabia (Basarabia in Romanian, derived from the Wallachian Basarab dynasty, who ruled over the southern part of the area) over the whole region that they occupied, to leave the impression that is just about the former ottoman raya from the south, because the Ottoman Empire nor even possessed this territory, so it couldn't cede it.

In 1856 two districts of southern Bessarabia (Budjak) were returned to Moldavia, the Russian Empire losing the access to the Danube River, but the districts were taken back in 1878. In 1859, Moldavia and Wallachia united to form the Kingdom of Romania in 1866. In January 1918, after the Bolshevik revolution, a National Council (Sfatul Ţării) was established in Bessarabia, and declared independence, as Moldavian Democratic Republic, and few days later voted the union with Romania. Also the General Congress of Bukovina voted on November 28, 1918 for the union with Romania.

In 1924 the soviets created the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (MASSR), encompassing modern Transnistria and a number of territories that are now part of Ukraine, an entity with no historical or ethnic basis, aiming to bolster the Soviet Union claim to Bessarabia. On August 23 1939 was signed the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, by which Bessarabia fell within the Soviet interest zone, and Soviet Union occupied it in 1940, establishing the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, comprising most of the territory of Bessarabia and the western parts of the former Moldavian ASSR.

A year later, Romania joined Germany in Operation Barbarossa and recovered Bessarabia and northern Bukovina. The Soviet Union regained the region in 1944 and re-establish the Moldavian SSR. In 1990 it became SSR Moldova, and later Republic of Moldova, which became independent on December 25, 1991, in the boundaries established on August 2, 1940.

On September 2 1990 Transnistria, which has a large population of Ukrainian and Russian descent, proclaimed its independence as Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (become in 1991 Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic), with the capital of Tiraspol. The motives behind this were fear of the country's expected reunification with Romania after the secession from the USSR. In the winter of 1991–1992 clashes occurred between Transnistrian forces, supported by the 14th Russian Army (largely composed by russophone locals), and the Moldovan police, which on March 2 1992 escalated into a military engagement. A ceasefire agreement was signed on 21 July 1992, but in Transnistria are still quartered about 1,500 troops from the former 14th Russian Army. Until today the sovereignty of PMR was recognise only by Abkhazia, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and South Ossetia (mutual recognition).

In conclusion, Moldavia is today divided between:
- Romania - the area between Carpathians and Prut River, and Southern Bukovina
- Republic of Moldova - most of Bessarabia, and Transnistria (on which has no control, as I said)
- Ukraine - northern Bukovina, Hertza region, northern Bessarabia (northern Hotin County), and southern Bessarabia (Budjak) 

Transnistria is a narrow valley stretching in the North-South direction along the bank of the Dniester River, between Bessarabia (i.e. the rest of Republic of Moldova) and Ukraine. Tiraspol, the capital and its largest city, has about 160,000 inhabitants and was founded by the Russian generalissimo Alexander Suvorov in 1792, after that Russia took from Ottoman Empire left bank of the Dniester River. In image is the monument to the military pilots, a MiG-19.

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-19, a single-seat, twin jet-engined fighter aircraft, was the first Soviet production aircraft capable of supersonic speeds in level flight. It was built in 2,172 copies (without those made in China), much less then its predecessor, MiG-17 (10,603 copies), and its successor, MiG-21 (11,496 copies). Was used in Vietnam War (by North Vietnam), in the Six-Day War (by Egypt), but also by China against Taiwan, by Tanzania against Uganda, by Sudan against separatists, and by others. Romania had in service 17 MiG-19P and 10 MiG-19PM between 1958 and 1972. This aircraft is still in service in North Korea, Myanmar, and Zambia.

On the postcard you can see also the Transnistria's map. Because wasn’t recognize practically by any state, PMR doesn't have its own postal operator, so correspondence is operated by Post of Moldova. The wonderful stamp is part of a series named Traditional Costumes, which depicting the headcoverings. Issued on April 7 2012, the series comprise three stamps, designed by Elena Karacenţev:
- colţişor (85b)
- pălărie (1.20L)
- năframă (3L) – its on the postcard

I don't think that I should explain why I attached this post to both Moldova and Transnistria labels.

sender: Alla Clopot (direct swap)
sent from Tiraspol (Transnistria / Moldova), on 22.05.2012
photo: A. Palamar

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a rare postcard. I have heard of Transnistria only very recently. A friend of mine is from Moldova and she told me about Transnistria wanting to be recognised as an independent state. Thank you for this information you shared!