Tiraspol, Moldova, Nov 22 (EFE).- Real Madrid’s visit to FC Sheriff for their Champions League clash will put Transnistria, a self-proclaimed state that is not recognized by the international community, on the map.
The middle section of the Dniester River separates Moldova from the breakaway republic of Transnistria, a strip of a little over 4,000 square kilometers that is home to nearly 500,000 people.
European Union citizens do not need a visa to visit Moldova, but before entering the enclave, they have to pass checkpoints that are manned by Transnistrian soldiers.
In the letter inviting sports journalists traveling from Spain to cover the match, they were advised that the sole purpose of their presence in Transnistria is to cover the action on the pitch.
Writing about the politics of Transnistria, where a Russian peacekeeping force of about 2,000 troops has been deployed since the 1991 war between Moldova and Transnistria which left over 1,000 dead, is strictly forbidden.
Transnistria – which has a president, currency, flag, anthem and army- is heavily influenced by Russia. Russian legislation reigns in the territory, where Russian is the most widely spoken language.
Moscow has a military base located in the central city, a few minutes from Sheriff’s stadium.
In addition to an annual subsidy, estimated to be several hundred million dollars, the Kremlin also supplies Transnistria with gas for free.
What is not Russian is Soviet. The hammer and sickle appear on both the flag and its emblem.
Central Tiraspol houses a memorial dedicated to fallen soldiers in the war against the Nazi Germany (1941-45) and in the most recent conflict with Moldova.