As the Soviet Union broke up and Moldova became an independent state, a small region known as Transnistria—where Russian is the dominant language and pro-Russian sentiment prevails—sought to break away as an independent state. In 1992, Moldova decided to regain Transnistria and started a military conflict. Russian troops entered the territory to stop the fighting and engage in a peacekeeping mission. Russia is now the main guarantor of security in the region. In a referendum held in 2006, most people voted for independence from the Republic of Moldova and potential future integration into Russia.
Despite its non-recognition, Transnistria is now a presidential republic. It has a legislative and executive authority, state border and army, its own constitution, flag, emblem and anthem. Its citizens have a local currency and passport, although these are not valid anywhere outside of Transnistria. For the past 27 years, the people of Transnistria—a region spanning approximately 201 by 32 kilometres—have lived in a frozen state. Hidden under the label of “the non-existent country”, are real people who have managed to adapt to the complicated life in a country recognised only by them. Today, a new generation has grown up—and I belong to it.