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Did the Ukraine and Moldova belong to Russia between 1905-1918?

Did the Ukraine and Moldova belong to Russia between 1905-1918?


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Between the years of 1905-1918? Were the countries of Moldova and Ukraine part of the Russian Federation? Or were they their own independent state / country.?


No. They were not part of the Russian Federation. The Russian Federation did not exist at the time, it has only existed since 1991. Between 1905-1917, Ukraine and Moldova were part of the Russian Empire, with the exception of what now is western Ukraine, which belonged to Austro-Hungarian empire at the time.

After 1917, the situation becomes more complicated as the area got involved in the mess that is the Russian civil war. During the course of the war, Ukraine would be controlled by several warring groups until being conquered by the Bolsheviks and eventually becoming part of the Soviet Union. Several groups within Ukraine did try to gain independence, but none of them were ever recognised or successful.

Moldova meanwhile became a part of Romania (with the exception of Transdnistria, which was created by the Soviet Union from former Ukrainian territory). This unification with Romania lasted until 1940, when the Soviets took over control. Moldova then remained part of the Soviet Union until 1991 (with the exception of a few years during World War 2, when Romania re-took control).


Odessa

ODESSA, capital of Odessa district, Ukraine. In the 19 th century it became the industrial and commercial center for southern Russia. In 1865 a university was founded. Odessa was an important center of the Russian revolutionary movement. Under the Soviet regime it lost some of its importance. In October 1941 Odessa was occupied by the German and Romanian armies and was under Romanian military rule until its liberation in April 1944.

From the 1880s until the 1920s the Jewish community of Odessa was the second largest in the whole of Russia (after *Warsaw , the capital of Poland, then within czarist Russia) and it had considerable influence on the Jews of the country. The principal characteristics of this community, and responsible for its particular importance, were the rapid and constant growth of the Jewish population and its extensive participation in the economic development of the town, the outstanding "Western" character of its cultural life and numerous communal institutions, especially educational and economic institutions, the social and political activity of the Jewish public, the mood of tension and struggle which was impressed on its history, and the Hebrew literary center which emerged there.

Beginnings of the Community

The Russians found six Jews when they took the fortress of Khadzhi-Bei in 1789 the oldest Jewish tombstone in the cemetery dates from 1793. Five Jews were among those who in 1794 received plots for the erection of houses and shops and the planting of gardens. The Gemilut 𞉎sed Shel Emet society (𞉞vra kaddisha) was founded in 1795. In 1796 Jews participated in the administration of the town. The kahal (community administration) was already in existence in 1798, when the first synagogue was built the first rabbi to hold office, in 1809, was Isaac Rabinovich of Bendery.

Growth of the Jewish Population

There were 246 Jews (out of a total population of 2,349) in 1795, 6,950 (out of 41,700) in 1831, 51,378 (out of 193,513) in 1873, 138,935 (out of 403,815) in 1897. During the Soviet period the Jewish population continued to grow: in 1926, 153,243 (of a total population of 420,862), and 200,981 in 1939 (out of 604,217). It was then the second largest Jewish population in Ukraine, after Kiev. After World War II 108,900 Jews lived in Odessa (12.1% of the total) in 1959, and 86,000 (8.4% of the total) in 1979.

Economic Status

From the start, the Jews of Odessa engaged in retail trade and crafts. Their representation in these occupations remained important. In 1910, 56% of the small shops were still owned by Jews they also constituted 63% of the town's craftsmen. Jewish economy in Odessa was distinguished by the role played by Jews in the export of grain via the harbor, in wholesale trade, banking and industry, the large numbers of Jews engaged in the liberal professions, and the existence of a large Jewish proletariat in variegated employment.

During the first half of the 19 th century, the participation of Jews in the grain export trade was limited to the purchase of grain in the villages and estates, and to brokerage and mediation in the capacity of subagents for the large export companies, which were Greek, Italian, and French. By 1838 Jews were well represented among the officials of the exchange, and as classifiers, sorters, weighers, and even loaders of grain. From the 1860s, however, Jewish enterprises won a predominant place in the grain export and succeeded in supplanting the export companies of foreign merchants from their monopolist positions. During the early 1870s, the greater part of the grain exports was handled by Jews, and by 1910 over 80% of grain export companies were Jewish owned, while Jews were responsible for almost 90% (89.2%) of grain exports. This success in Jewish trade was not only due to greater efficiency in the organization of purchases and rapidity in their expedition, but was also connected with the constant rise of grain prices and the decline of commercial profit rates, which resulted in a tremendous increase of the grain exports which passed through the port of Odessa.

Jews also held an important share of the wholesale trade about one-half of the wholesale enterprises were owned by Jews in 1910. During the 1840s most of the bankers and moneychangers were Jews, and at the beginning of the 20 th century 70% of the banks of Odessa were administered by them. Among the industrialists, Jews formed 43%, but their manufactured products amounted only to 39%. In 1910, 70% of those engaged in medicine were Jews about 56% of those engaged in law, and about 27% of those engaged in technical professions (engineers, architects, chemists, etc.). About two-thirds of the Jewish population were engaged in crafts and industry, in transportation and services, and in other categories of labor. More than one-half of these (about one-third of the Jewish population) belonged, from the social point of view, to the proletariat – industrial workers, apprentices in workshops, and ordinary laborers. During the 1880s these formed a considerable part of the Jewish proletariat (about one-third), and their standard of living, as that of the poorer classes, was very low. With the progress of industrialization in Odessa, many of them were integrated in new enterprises and the number of unskilled workers decreased.

The October Revolution of 1917 brought a decline in the commercial status of Odessa as well as the process of socialization. While this affected the means of livelihood of the majority of Jews, much of their experience and skills were utilized in the new social and economic structure under different designations. In 1926 Jews formed the overwhelming majority of the commercial clerks (in government stores and cooperatives), about 90% of the members of the tailors' union, 67% of the members of the printing workers' union, about 53% of those employed in the timber industries, about 48% of the municipal workers (which also included drivers, electricians, etc.), and about 40% of the members of the free professionals' union. Thousands of Jewish workers found employment in heavy industry (metal industry, sugar refineries, ship building), in which Jews had formerly been absent, and of which only 27% were members of the trade unions: during the same year, the Jews formed up to 64% of those engaged in the smaller private industries which occupied some of those thousands who had remained unemployed and had not been successfully integrated within the new economic regime.

Cultural Trends

From the cultural aspect the Odessa community was the most "Western" in character in the *Pale of Settlement . Its population was gathered from all the regions of Russia and even from abroad (particularly from ʫrody in Galicia and from Germany, during the 1820s�s), and the throwing off of tradition became a quite familiar occurrence. This situation was expressed by a popular Jewish saying: "The fire of Hell burns around Odessa up to a distance of ten parasangs." The low standard of Torah learning within the community and the general ignorance and apathy of the Odessa Jews in their attitude to Judaism were depicted in popular witticisms as well as in literature ( Y.T. *Lewinsky ). Linguistic and cultural Russian assimilation encompassed widespread classes and thus formed a social basis for the community's role as an active and organized center for the spread of Russian education among the Jews of southern Russia. The social and economic position of the maskilim of Odessa (the ȫrodyists") drew them closer to the authorities and enabled them to gain considerable influence within the community and the shaping of its institutions. Odessa was thus the first community in Russia to be directed by maskilim, who retained their control over its administration throughout its existence: the Ȭouncil of the Wealthy and Permanently Appointed Jews" and later the Ȭommission of the Twenty" (which also included the delegates of the synagogue officials), which was organized as an opposition to the leadership of the community after 1905.

Educational and Communal Institutions

The cultural character of the community was reflected in its educational institutions. At the beginning of the 20 th century, there were still about 200 �rim, attended by about 5,000 pupils, in Odessa 97% of these pupils came from the masses of the poor, and the �rim were generally not of high standing. At the same time, about 6,500 pupils (boys and girls) attended 40 Jewish elementary schools (of which three were talmudei torah and 13 of the *Society for the Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia ) of public, governmental, or semipublic categories. The language of instruction in these schools was Russian, while Jewish subjects held an insignificant place or were hardly studied at all. Many Jewish pupils studied at the government municipal schools (in 1886, over 200 pupils – 8%) and government secondary schools (about 50% of the male and female pupils in 1910), about 2,500 pupils in private secondary schools, and about 700 pupils in Jewish vocational schools (for boys and girls) there were also many hundreds of Jewish students at the university (the maximum figure in 1906 was 746). In addition, Jews studied at the governmental college for music and arts (60%) and the advanced private professional colleges (for dentistry, midwifery, etc.). There were also numerous evening classes and courses for adults. Of the Jewish schools, noteworthy was the vocational school Trud ("Labor") which was founded in 1864 and was the best of its class, and the yeshivah (founded 1866) which after 1906, when it was headed by Rav 𞤪'ir ( 𞉊yyim *Tchernowitz ) and its teachers included Ḥ.N. ʫialik and J. *Klausner , attracted excellent pupils and achieved fame.

The educational institutions of Odessa became examples and models for other communities from the foundation of the first Jewish public school (in 1826), in which an attempt was made to provide a general and modern Hebrew education (with modern literature as a subject of study) under the direction of Bezalel *Stern it had considerable influence within the Haskalah movement of Russia. Other institutions which also served as models included the synagogue of the ȫrodyists," where a choir and modern singing were introduced during the 1840s, and in 1901, an organ orphanages agricultural training farms summer camps for invalid children and a large and well-equipped hospital.

Social and Political Activities

The prominent social and political activities of the Jews of Odessa had considerable influence on the rest of Russian Jewry. The community leaders and maskilim showed considerable initiative and made frequent representations to the authorities to obtain improvements in the condition of the Jews and their legal equality with the other inhabitants during the 1840s, 1850s, and 1870s, and called for the punishment of those who took part in the pogroms of 1871, 1881, and 1905 (see below). They were the first in Russia to adopt the system of publicly and courageously defending the Jews in the Russian-Jewish press which they had established ( *Razsvet (1860), of Joachim H. Tarnopol and O.A. *Rabinovich Zion of E. Soloveichik and L. *Pinsker Den (1869), of S. Orenstein with the permanent collaboration of I.G. *Orshanski and M. *Morgulis ), while the criticisms they published of internal Jewish matters were also sharp and violent in tone. The Hebrew and Yiddish Haskalah press ( *Ha-Meliẓ , 1860 *Kol Mevasser , 1863) which had been born in Odessa (under the editorship of A. *Zederbaum ) also adopted this "radical" attitude to some extent. Jews of Odessa contributed largely to the local press, where they also discussed Jewish affairs. At the beginning of the 20 th century, a style of Jewish awareness became apparent in discussions of Russian-speaking and Russian-educated Jews ( V. *Jabotinsky and his circle) which was widely echoed within the Jewish public, particularly in southern Russia. The social and political awakening of the Jewish masses was also widespread in Odessa. Odessa Jews played an extensive and even prominent part in all trends of the Russian liberation movement. The Zionist movement also attracted masses of people.

The Pogroms

This social and political awakening of the masses arose in the atmosphere of strain and struggle surrounding the life of the community. Anti-Jewish outbreaks occurred on five occasions (1821, 1859, 1871, 1881, 1905) in Odessa, as well as many attempted attacks or unsuccessful efforts to provoke them. Intensive anti-Jewish agitation shadowed and accompanied the growth of the Jewish population and its economic and cultural achievements. Almost every sector of the Christian population contributed to the agitation and took part in the pogroms: the monopolists of the grain export (especially the Greeks in 1821, 1859, 1871) in an attempt to strike at their Jewish rivals, wealthy Russian merchants, nationalist Ukrainian intellectuals, and Christian members of the liberal professions who regarded the respected economic position of the Jews, who were ⋞prived of rights" in the other towns of the country, and their Russian acculturation as "the exploitation of Christians and masters at the hands of heretics and foreigners" (1871, 1881). The government administration and its supporters favored the *pogroms as a means for punishing the Jews for their participation in the revolutionary movement pogroms were also an effective medium for diverting the anger of the discontented masses from opposition to the government to hatred of the Jews (1881, 1905) the masses, the ⊺refoot," the destitute, the unemployed, and the embittered of the large port city were always ready to take part in robbery and looting.

The severest pogroms occurred in 1905, and the collaboration of the authorities in their organization was evident. In this outbreak, over 300 Jews lost their lives, whilst thousands of families were injured. Among the victims were over 50 members of the Jewish *self-defense movement. Attempts to organize the movement had already been made at the time of the pogroms of the 1880s, but in this city inhabited by Jewish masses it had formed part of their existence before then and on many occasions had deterred attempted pogroms. After the Revolution, during 1917�, the Association of Jewish Combatants was formed by ex-officers and soldiers of the Russian army. It was due to the existence of this association that no pogroms occurred in Odessa throughout the Civil War period.

Zionist and Literary Center

From the inception of the *Ḥibbat Zion movement, Odessa served as its chief center. From here issued the first calls of M.L. *Lilienblum ("The revival of Israel on the land of its ancestors") and L. Pinsker (Ȫuto-Emancipation") which gave rise to the movement, worked for its unity ("Zerubbavel," 1883), and headed the leadership which was established after the *Kattowitz Conference ("Mazkeret Moshe," 1885�). The ⪾nei Moshe society (founded by ʪ� Ha-Am in 1889), which attempted to organize the intellectuals and activists of the movement, was established in Odessa. Odessa was also chosen as the seat of the settlement committee (the *Odessa Committee , called officially The Society for the Support of Agricultural Workers and Craftsmen in Syria and Palestine), the only legally authorized institution of the movement in Russia (1890�). Several other economic institutions for practical activities in Palestine (Geulah, the Carmel branch, etc.) were associated with it. Jewish emigration from Russia to Ereẓ Israel also passed through Odessa, which became the "Gateway to Zion."

The social awakening of the masses gave rise to the popular character of the Zionist movement in Odessa. It succeeded in establishing an influential and ramified organization, attracting a stream of intellectual and energetic youth from the townlets of the Pale of Settlement to Odessa – the center of culture and site of numerous schools – and provided the Jewish national movement with powerful propagandists, especially from among the ranks of those devoted to Hebrew literature. The group of authors and activists which rallied around the Zionist movement and actively participated in the work of its institutions included M.L. Lilienblum and Ahad Ha-Am, M.M. *Ussishkin , who headed the Odessa Committee during its last decade of existence, and M. ʭizengoff , Zalman ʮpstein and Y.T. Lewinsky, M. ⪾n-Ammi and H. *Rawnitzky , Ḥ.N. Bialik and J. *Klausner , A. ʭruyanow and A.M. Berakhyahu (Borochov), Ḥ. *Tchernowitz , S. Pen, M. *Gluecksohn and V. Jabotinsky. These had great influence on this youth, who were not only initiated into Jewish national activity, but were enriched in Jewish culture and broadened in general education. Important literary forums were established in Odessa (Kavveret, 1890 Pardes, 1891� *Ha-Shiloɺḥ , 1897� 1907� *Haolam , 1912�) their editors (A� Ha-Am, Y.H. Rawnitzky, Ḥ.N. Bialik, J. Klausner, A. Druyanow, and M. Gluecksohn) not only succeeded in raising them to a high literary standard but also won considerable influence among the public through the ideological integrity of their publications. The publishing houses established in Odessa (Rawnitzky, Moriah Ḥ.N. Bialik and Y.H. Rawnitzky, S. ⪾n-Zion and Y.T. Lewinsky, ⫞vir , founded by Bialik and his circle, from 1919) were also systematic in their standards and consistently loyal to their ideology. A Hebrew literary center and "Hebrew climate" was created in Odessa. It united the Hebrew writers by an internal bond more closely than in any other place it attracted toward Hebrew literature authors who had become estranged from it or who had never approached it (Mendele Mokher Seforim, S. ʭubnow , Ben-David, M. Ben-Ammi, S.S. ʯrug , V. Jabotinsky) it produced new authors who were to play an important and valuable role in literature ( S. *Tchernichowsky , J. Klausner, N. *Slouschz , etc.) it attracted talented young authors (S. Ben-Zion, Y. ⪾rkowitz , J. ʯichmann , Z. *Shneour , A.A. *Kabak , E. *Steinman , and many others) who sought the benefit of this congenial literary meeting place refecting the spirit of its distinguished founders (A� Ha-Am and Ḥ.N. Bialik). The arguments between the leaders of the national movement (A� Ha-Am and S. Dubnow, M.M. Ussishkin and V. Jabotinsky) and its opponents, grouped around the local branch of the Society for Promotion of Culture among the Jews of Russia who stood for "striking civic roots, linguistic-cultural assimilation, and general ideals" (M. Morgulis, J. ʫikerman , etc.), were published at length and grew in severity from year to year, their influence penetrating far beyond Odessa. With the advent of the Soviet regime, Odessa ceased to be the Jewish cultural center in southern Russia. The symbol of the destruction of Hebrew culture was the departure from Odessa for Constantinople in June 1921 of a group of Hebrew authors led by Bialik. The *Yevsektsiya chose *Kharkov and *Kiev as centers for its activities among the Jews of the Ukraine. Russian-oriented assimilation prevailed among the Jews of Odessa in the 1920s (though the city belonged to the Ukraine). Over 77% of the Jewish pupils attended Russian schools in 1926 and only 22% Yiddish schools. At the University, where up to 40% of the student role was Jewish, a faculty of Yiddish existed for several years which also engaged in research of the history of Jews in southern Russia. The renowned Jewish libraries of the city were amalgamated into a single library named after Mendele Mokher Seforim. In the later 1930s, as in the rest of Russia, Jewish cultural activity ceased in Odessa and was eventually completely eradicated. The rich Jewish life in Odessa found vivid expression in Russian-Jewish fiction, as, e.g., in the novels of *Yushkevich , in Jabotinsky's autobiographical stories and his novel Piatero ("They Were Five," 1936) and particularly in the colorful Odessa Tales by Isaac �l , which covered both the pre-revolutionary and the revolutionary period and described the Jewish proletariat and underworld of the city.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Eshkol, Enziklopedyah Yisreɾlit, 1 (1929), 809� B. Shohetman, in: Arim ve-Immahot be-Yisrael, 2 (1948), 58� (incl. bibl.) J. Lestschinsky, Dos Sovetishe Yidntum (1941 Heb. tr. Ha-Yehudim be-Rusyah ha-Sovyetit, 1943) A.P. Subbotin, V cherte yevreyskoy osedlosti, 2 (1888) J.J. Lerner, Yevrei v Novorossiyskom kraye-istoricheskiye ocherki (1901) A. Dallin, Odessa 19411944… (1957) Litani, in: Yedi'ot Yad Vashem, no. 23� (1960), 24� idem, in: Yad Vashem Studies (1967), 135� A. Werth, Russia at War, 19411945 (1964), 813� S. Schwarz, Jews in the Soviet Union (1951), index, I. Ehrenburg et al. (eds.), Cartea Neagr…, 1 (1946), 92� M. Carp (ed.), Cartea Neagr… 2 (1948) 3 (1947), indexes Procesul Marii Tra𬟚ˇri Nationale (1946), index PK Romanyah (1969), 390𠄴.

Sources: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.


Moldova

a historical region in eastern Rumania situated between the Eastern Carpathians on the west and the Prut River on the east. Today the region encompasses the districts of Bacău, Vaslui, Vrancea, Galaţi, Neamţ, and laşj and part of the districts of Botoşani and Suceava.

The first human settlements in Moldova date from the Paleolithic. From the sixth century B.C. it was settled by the Thracian Geto-Dacian tribes, Scythians, Bastarnians, and other peoples. In the middle of the first century B.C., Burebista, leader of the Geto-Dacian military tribal alliance centered in Transylvania, extended his rule over Moldova. In the fourth and fifth centuries the region was invaded by the Huns, and in the sixth and seventh centuries it was settled by Slavs, who had a considerable influence on the local population and played a large role in the development of feudal relations in Moldova. Between the tenth and 12th centuries Moldova suffered devastating raids by the Pechenegs and Polovtsy, and in the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries it was under the domination of the Golden Horde. In the 14th century it became a vassal of the Hungarian crown. In 1359, Moldova, along with Bessarabia and Bukovina, became part of the Principality of Moldavia, which contributed to the further development of feudal relations in Moldova. In 1456, during the reign of Hospodar Petru Aron (1454-57), the Principality of Moldavia was obliged to recognize the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan and pay tribute.

The Principality of Moldavia was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The oppression of local and Turkish feudal lords provoked antifeudal peasant uprisings. The principality&rsquos struggle for liberation was supported by other states, particularly Russia. Its hospodars concluded numerous military and political alliances with the Russian state. Stephen III the Great (ruled 1457-1504) entered into an alliance with Ivan III, Petru Rares (1527-38 and 1541-46) with Ivan IV, and Dmitrii Kantemir (1710-11) with Peter I. In the reign of the Walachian hospodar Michael the Brave (1593-1601), Moldova, Walachia, and Transylvania briefly formed a single state. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1710-13 the population of Moldova fought alongside Russian troops. After 1711 the Turkish sultan began to appoint hospodars for Moldova from among the Greek Phanariots, and Turkish-Phanariot oppression led to increased feudal exploitation of the peasantry. The intensification of national and social oppression gave rise to a broad liberation movement among the masses.

Turkey&rsquos defeats in the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th and 19th centuries reduced both Moldova&rsquos and Walachia&rsquos dependence on Turkey. The Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji of 1774 confirmed Russia&rsquos protection over the Danubian principalities (Moldova and Walachia). However, after the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12 and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova, where they had been stationed since the beginning of the war, the authority of the Turkish sultan was reestablished over the area. Under the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1812, the territory between the Dnestr and the Prut (Bessarabia) and part of northern Bukovina passed to Russia the remainder of Bukovina had been under Hapsburg rule since 1774. The uprising against the Turkish feudal lords, local boyars, and Greek Phanariots that broke out in Walachia in 1821 also enveloped many parts of Moldova. Although the uprising was defeated, the Phanariot regime was abolished and hospodars were henceforth appointed from among the local boyars.

The Russo-Turkish Treaty of Adrianople of 1829 gave greater autonomy to Moldova and Walachia and stipulated that Russian troops were to remain in both regions. In 1832 the Organic Statute was adopted, providing for socioeconomic, political, and administrative changes and promoting closer relations between Moldova and Walachia. A further step toward the unification of Moldova and Walachia was the abolition of customs barriers between them in 1847. A movement to introduce bourgeois reforms began in Moldova in March 1848. Although the movement was suppressed, it dealt a strong blow to the feudal order.

During the Crimean War (1853-56), Moldova was occupied by Russian and later by Austrian and Turkish troops. Under the Treaty of Paris of 1856, Russian protection of the Danubian principalities was replaced by a &ldquoguaranty&rdquo of the signatory powers, and southern Bessarabia was incorporated into Moldova. In accordance with the Paris Convention of Aug. 7, 1858, signed by Great Britain, Austria, France, Russia, Prussia, Turkey, and Piedmont, Moldova and Walachia were designated the United Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. The convention provided for the creation of joint governmental organs, although in fact power remained in the hands of the separate governments of Moldova and Walachia under the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan. Unification was achieved through the election of Colonel A. Cuza as hospodar of Moldova on Jan. 5, 1859, and of Walachia on Jan. 24, 1859. The united Principality of Rumania was established in January 1862.


Odessa

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Odessa, Ukrainian Odesa, seaport, southwestern Ukraine. It stands on a shallow indentation of the Black Sea coast at a point approximately 19 miles (31 km) north of the Dniester River estuary and about 275 miles (443 km) south of Kyiv.

Although a settlement existed on the site in ancient times, the history of the modern city began in the 14th century when the Tatar fortress of Khadzhibey was established there it later passed to Lithuania-Poland and in 1480 to Turkey. The fortress was stormed by the Russians in 1789 and the territory ceded to Russia in 1792. A new fortress was built in 1792–93, and in 1794 a naval base and commercial quay were added. In 1795 the new port was named Odessa for the ancient Greek colony of Odessos, the site of which was believed to be in the vicinity.

During the 19th century Odessa’s growth was rapid, especially after the coming of railways in 1866. Odessa became the third city of Russia and the country’s second most important port, after St. Petersburg grain was its principal export. The city was one of the chief centres of the Revolution of 1905 and was the scene of the mutiny on the warship Potemkin. Sergey Eisenstein’s classic film Battleship Potemkin was made there in 1925. Odessa suffered heavy damage in World War II during its prolonged and unsuccessful defense against German and Romanian forces.

The city remains a major port in Ukraine, with well-equipped docks and ship-repair yards. After 1957 a new outport was built at Ilichevsk, 12 miles (20 km) to the south. Odessa is the base of a fishing fleet. The city’s rail communications are good to all parts of Ukraine, Moldova, and Romania. Odessa is also a large industrial centre, with a wide range of engineering industries products have included machine tools, cranes, and plows. The chemical industry has produced such materials as fertilizers, paints, and dyes. Odessa also has been the site of oil refining, jute processing, consumer-goods manufacturing, and food processing. Most factories lie north of the port along the waterfront, with newer plants on the western outskirts.

Odessa is an important cultural and educational centre. It has a university, founded in 1865, and numerous other institutions of higher education. Its most renowned research establishment is the Filatov Institute of Eye Diseases and Tissue Therapy. There are a number of museums and theatres, including the opera house and ballet theatre, dating from 1809. The seashore south of the harbour is a popular resort area, with numerous sanatoriums and holiday camps. Pop. (2001) 1,029,049 (2019 est.) 1,013,159.

The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica This article was most recently revised and updated by Michael Ray, Editor.


Moldova

a historical region in eastern Rumania situated between the Eastern Carpathians on the west and the Prut River on the east. Today the region encompasses the districts of Bacău, Vaslui, Vrancea, Galaţi, Neamţ, and laşj and part of the districts of Botoşani and Suceava.

The first human settlements in Moldova date from the Paleolithic. From the sixth century B.C. it was settled by the Thracian Geto-Dacian tribes, Scythians, Bastarnians, and other peoples. In the middle of the first century B.C., Burebista, leader of the Geto-Dacian military tribal alliance centered in Transylvania, extended his rule over Moldova. In the fourth and fifth centuries the region was invaded by the Huns, and in the sixth and seventh centuries it was settled by Slavs, who had a considerable influence on the local population and played a large role in the development of feudal relations in Moldova. Between the tenth and 12th centuries Moldova suffered devastating raids by the Pechenegs and Polovtsy, and in the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries it was under the domination of the Golden Horde. In the 14th century it became a vassal of the Hungarian crown. In 1359, Moldova, along with Bessarabia and Bukovina, became part of the Principality of Moldavia, which contributed to the further development of feudal relations in Moldova. In 1456, during the reign of Hospodar Petru Aron (1454-57), the Principality of Moldavia was obliged to recognize the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan and pay tribute.

The Principality of Moldavia was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The oppression of local and Turkish feudal lords provoked antifeudal peasant uprisings. The principality&rsquos struggle for liberation was supported by other states, particularly Russia. Its hospodars concluded numerous military and political alliances with the Russian state. Stephen III the Great (ruled 1457-1504) entered into an alliance with Ivan III, Petru Rares (1527-38 and 1541-46) with Ivan IV, and Dmitrii Kantemir (1710-11) with Peter I. In the reign of the Walachian hospodar Michael the Brave (1593-1601), Moldova, Walachia, and Transylvania briefly formed a single state. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1710-13 the population of Moldova fought alongside Russian troops. After 1711 the Turkish sultan began to appoint hospodars for Moldova from among the Greek Phanariots, and Turkish-Phanariot oppression led to increased feudal exploitation of the peasantry. The intensification of national and social oppression gave rise to a broad liberation movement among the masses.

Turkey&rsquos defeats in the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th and 19th centuries reduced both Moldova&rsquos and Walachia&rsquos dependence on Turkey. The Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji of 1774 confirmed Russia&rsquos protection over the Danubian principalities (Moldova and Walachia). However, after the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12 and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova, where they had been stationed since the beginning of the war, the authority of the Turkish sultan was reestablished over the area. Under the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1812, the territory between the Dnestr and the Prut (Bessarabia) and part of northern Bukovina passed to Russia the remainder of Bukovina had been under Hapsburg rule since 1774. The uprising against the Turkish feudal lords, local boyars, and Greek Phanariots that broke out in Walachia in 1821 also enveloped many parts of Moldova. Although the uprising was defeated, the Phanariot regime was abolished and hospodars were henceforth appointed from among the local boyars.

The Russo-Turkish Treaty of Adrianople of 1829 gave greater autonomy to Moldova and Walachia and stipulated that Russian troops were to remain in both regions. In 1832 the Organic Statute was adopted, providing for socioeconomic, political, and administrative changes and promoting closer relations between Moldova and Walachia. A further step toward the unification of Moldova and Walachia was the abolition of customs barriers between them in 1847. A movement to introduce bourgeois reforms began in Moldova in March 1848. Although the movement was suppressed, it dealt a strong blow to the feudal order.

During the Crimean War (1853-56), Moldova was occupied by Russian and later by Austrian and Turkish troops. Under the Treaty of Paris of 1856, Russian protection of the Danubian principalities was replaced by a &ldquoguaranty&rdquo of the signatory powers, and southern Bessarabia was incorporated into Moldova. In accordance with the Paris Convention of Aug. 7, 1858, signed by Great Britain, Austria, France, Russia, Prussia, Turkey, and Piedmont, Moldova and Walachia were designated the United Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. The convention provided for the creation of joint governmental organs, although in fact power remained in the hands of the separate governments of Moldova and Walachia under the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan. Unification was achieved through the election of Colonel A. Cuza as hospodar of Moldova on Jan. 5, 1859, and of Walachia on Jan. 24, 1859. The united Principality of Rumania was established in January 1862.


Transnistria: the price of unilateral independence

Just over 28 years ago (3 September 1990), Transnistria, a region wedged between Ukraine and the Dniester River, declared its independence from Moldova. This unilateral separation, not recognised by any UN member states – and followed by a civil war – created a kind of political limbo in which the self-proclaimed republic’s roughly 500,000 citizens continue to live today.

In addition to its population and actively policed borders, Transnistria has its own government and armed forces. It prints its own currency and issues its own passports – neither of which are recognised. The Transnistria conflict is one of several “frozen conflicts” in the region (which could impact Russia, the EU and NATO) – as far as the outside world is concerned, the republic doesn’t exist.

“When they declared independence, they promised us that we were going to build a little Switzerland here. We believed it. Why not? We had the potential,” says Svetlana (who requested that her name be changed), a resident of Tiraspol, the capital city of Transnistria (and the second largest city in Moldova).

Before its secession, Transnistria was the most prosperous region of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR) and an industrial powerhouse that supplied the rest of the territory with electricity, generating approximately 40 per cent of Moldova’s GDP. It’s where the country’s political elites came from and where Soviet troops were stationed. The economy in Bessarabia, the Romanian-speaking part of Moldova, was centred on agriculture, particularly wine production. On the eve of the fall of the USSR, the standard of living in Transnistria was twice as high as the rest of Moldova.

Commemoration in Tiraspol of the USSR’s victory in World War II. After separation, the government of Trasnistria decided to keep Soviet symbols in opposition to the new symbolism of Moldova.

“Do you guys have oligarchs too?” Svetlana asks me. A retired professor of biochemistry, Svetlana works part-time to help her daughter and grandchildren. After a long and fruitless search for employment, her eldest son, also an academic, gave up and trained instead to be an electrician. He now works in Poland on a seasonal basis.

Svetlana fondly remembers the days of the Soviet Union. For her, the problems started with the fall of the USSR and the rise of nationalist sentiment. “Suddenly, neighbours started shooting at each other. No one understood what was going on. The people at the top were at war with one another and those of us on the bottom were paying the price,” she says.

“The conflict wasn’t an ethnic one as such, even if identity and language played an important role for both sides,” explains Gilles-Emmanuel Jacquet, professor at the Geneva School of Diplomacy and Investigator at the International Peace Institute in Geneva. “In reality, the Transnistrian and Moldovan elites were trying to maintain or gain power. Linguistic, cultural and ethnic problems served as a pretext,” he adds.

Local producers and farmers sell their goods at Tiraspol’s Green Market. The land and infrastructure belongs to the private conglomerate, Sheriff.

After declaring its independence, the Transnistrian government privatised the bulk of the region’s industry. Most of the companies were taken over by Russian and Ukrainian oligarchs or became property of the Russian state. In the early 1990s, two former members of MSSR special services founded Sheriff, a private conglomerate with ties to the family of Igor Smirnov, Transnistria’s first president. Today, Sheriff controls virtually all of the region’s political and economic life. Its assets include supermarkets, banks, refineries, distilleries, pharmacies, a mobile phone network, a clothing factory and a football team.

Transnistria’s unilateral declaration of independence isolated the region and placed it in a legal limbo that paved the way for poverty and the development of inequality.

A match between local team FC Sheriff Tiraspol and FC Milsami Orhei, from Moldova. Both the football stadium and the FC Sheriff team belong to the Sheriff conglomerate. However, FC Sheriff is registered as a Moldovan team, as this is the only way for it to participate in international competitions.

“We should really be called ‘the Republic of Sheriff,’” jokes Anton, a 38-year-old entrepreneur (who also asked us not to use his real name), not without a hint of bitterness in his tone. “They’re the ones who decide everything here. In theory you can build up your own business, but you always run the risk of encroaching on their territory.”

Anton spent years working in Europe, saving money to buy a flat in central Tiraspol. His flat now functions as a small hostel in which statues and portraits of Lenin are basic elements of decoration. “People like it,” Anton says with a smile, “They come here to see the last Soviet vestige in Europe.”

The parliament of Transnistria in Tiraspol, with a statue of Lenin in the foreground. The current government celebrates its Soviet past, but in reality pursues free market economic policies.

“It’s a normal country, not a museum!” exclaims Kira, an entrepreneur from Tiraspol. “We don’t ride through the streets on horses and we don’t spend our days staring at Lenin! For us, it’s just a part of history.”

Kira, 24, lives in a flat with standards comparable to those in Europe. The spacious living room with leather armchairs and the high-end electrical appliances in the kitchen indicate a high standard of living. Kira studied marketing and economics in Odessa (southern Ukraine) and France but wanted to return to Transnistria. “We have everything we need here and everything is much easier than in Europe. You can achieve a lot if you want to.”

At 22, Kira opened a café in the centre of Tiraspol. To start her business, she needed US$5,000, the equivalent of about three years of an average salary in Transnistria. “We received the money as a wedding present. Part of it was for our honeymoon and the rest was for the business. My husband [Alex] knew I wasn’t going to stay at home with my son. We did the decorations ourselves and now my aunt works in the café.”

Kira at home with her husband, Alex, and their son in Tiraspol.

Alex, 28, also runs a plastics and packaging company. His main client is Sheriff’s supermarket network and his company is registered in Moldova. “It gives him access to a much broader market. Business is business,” adds Kira.

Kira considers herself to be patriotic and speaks proudly of her family’s achievements: her grandfather, Sergey Leontiev, one of the central figures in the fight for independence, served as vice president from 2001 to 2006 her father, Oleg Leontiev, is a deputy for Renewal, the political party currently in power. Kira smiles when I ask her if she plans to get involved in politics. “I have a lot of work with my business now. Maybe in the future.”

The kitchen of an orphanage for children between 6 and 17 years old, Parkany, close to Tiraspol. Many parents who decide to emigrate leave their children with relatives or in orphanages.

For the majority of Transnistria’s inhabitants, however, the picture is not so rosy. The lack of employment forces many to leave the country in search of work. According to a study conducted by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), in 2015 alone, close to 15 per cent of the working population left the region permanently. Most are young people who choose Russia as their destination. Little by little the country is becoming depopulated, with only children and the elderly remaining behind.

“I’m not going to sacrifice myself for a country that has nothing to offer me,” says Olga, 22, who dreams of being an actress in Europe (and who is also using a fake name). “There’s nothing here, there’s no independent culture and the culture that we do have is controlled by the government.”

Olga is currently looking for work while she waits for a Romanian passport. “I feel Transnistrian, but I can’t go anywhere with the papers from here,” she explains. “I already have a Russian passport but a Romanian one would allow me to live in Europe.” As she says, you have to be patient – with the number of applications submitted, it can take up to three years to get an appointment in the consulate.

Many young people in Transnistria want to live ’normal’ lives – to be able to travel, have recognised diplomas, attend universities in foreign countries or simply to buy goods, like any other European.

“I love this country but there’s so much that we lack. I would love for an Ikea to open here so we could buy normal furniture instead of having to go to Moldova or Ukraine,” says Sascha, 24.

Sascha, like many of her fellow citizens, has more than one passport: Transnistrian, Russian and Moldovan (from left to right).

In Sascha’s family, talking about Moldova was once a delicate subject. Her father fought for independence and was taught in school that Moldovans were the enemy. Her travels made her question a lot of things. “I realised that not everything was as black and white and that everyone has their own version of history. If I had been able to, I would have done everything possible to avoid war. Nothing good comes from separation.”

Politicians, however, opt for a discourse much more based on identity.

“The slogan ‘Suitcase – Train – Russia’ sticks with me to this day,” says Marina Kovtun, president of the Renewal party, in the city of Grigoriopol. “They wanted to throw us out of here and look, not only are we still here but we’ve shown the world that we’re capable of surviving on our own. European politicians say that they don’t recognise us, but they come here to do business and we export to several European countries!”

The ODEMA garment factory in Tiraspol. During the Soviet era, this factory employed 7,000 people and supplied the whole of the USSR. Today only 530 people work there.

In truth, local goods can only be sold abroad if they are labelled as Moldovan products. Financial transactions have to be made at Russian banks or directly in Moldova since the local currency is not recognised. The lack of political normalisation discourages many foreign investors, while some local companies can only offer cheap labour to European brands.

“85 per cent of our production is made for foreign companies, mostly German,” explains Aleksander Swiderski director of ODEMA, a textile factory located in Tiraspol. “They send us materials, models and machinery and we have to deliver them a finished product, with the company’s brand on it and labelled as made in Moldova. The factory continues to function but neither the company nor the local population is actually developing.”

Like many other veterans of World War II, Sergei Nikolaievich receives his pension from Russia, a pension that is three times higher than what the Transnistrian authorities pay.

“Transnistria has been able to survive this long thanks to Russian economic support,” explains G.E. Jacquet. “Putin never recognised it as a state, but he provides a lot of aid in order to keep it under his control.”

One good example is the supply of gas through a Russian-Moldovan agreement, for which the Transnistrian government hasn’t paid in years. By mid-2014, the bill had reached US$4 billion (about €3.5 billion). At the same time, the primary consumers – and debtors – of the gas are the industrial plants that belong to oligarchs and the Russian state. Putin’s government also supports the development of small businesses, renovates and builds public buildings and hospitals, offers scholarships for students and pays for a large number of retiree pensions.

Vadim Krasnoselsky (pictured right, talking) won the presidential election in 2016 with the support of the oligarchs and the Sheriff conglomerate. He seeks closer economic ties with Moldova while at the same time maintaining a separatist discourse.

All of this further reinforces the widespread impression of being part of the Russian orbit, an idea that has never been popular with Transnistria’s Moldovan minority.

“This is my land too!” says Veronica, a teacher in one of the few Moldovan secondary schools in Transnistria. “My whole family was born here and those that left after independence have to apply for a visa to visit us. There are Russian flags and Transnistrian flags flying everywhere here, but if I put up my Moldovan flag, they’ll brand me a nationalist.”

For many, however, the question of identity is becoming less and less important. Local politicians, even those who maintain a separatist discourse, favour reinforcing economic ties between the two sides. As some interviewees told me, “Identity doesn’t fill your stomach.”


Moldova

a historical region in eastern Rumania situated between the Eastern Carpathians on the west and the Prut River on the east. Today the region encompasses the districts of Bacău, Vaslui, Vrancea, Galaţi, Neamţ, and laşj and part of the districts of Botoşani and Suceava.

The first human settlements in Moldova date from the Paleolithic. From the sixth century B.C. it was settled by the Thracian Geto-Dacian tribes, Scythians, Bastarnians, and other peoples. In the middle of the first century B.C., Burebista, leader of the Geto-Dacian military tribal alliance centered in Transylvania, extended his rule over Moldova. In the fourth and fifth centuries the region was invaded by the Huns, and in the sixth and seventh centuries it was settled by Slavs, who had a considerable influence on the local population and played a large role in the development of feudal relations in Moldova. Between the tenth and 12th centuries Moldova suffered devastating raids by the Pechenegs and Polovtsy, and in the 13th and first half of the 14th centuries it was under the domination of the Golden Horde. In the 14th century it became a vassal of the Hungarian crown. In 1359, Moldova, along with Bessarabia and Bukovina, became part of the Principality of Moldavia, which contributed to the further development of feudal relations in Moldova. In 1456, during the reign of Hospodar Petru Aron (1454-57), the Principality of Moldavia was obliged to recognize the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan and pay tribute.

The Principality of Moldavia was incorporated into the Ottoman Empire in the 16th century. The oppression of local and Turkish feudal lords provoked antifeudal peasant uprisings. The principality&rsquos struggle for liberation was supported by other states, particularly Russia. Its hospodars concluded numerous military and political alliances with the Russian state. Stephen III the Great (ruled 1457-1504) entered into an alliance with Ivan III, Petru Rares (1527-38 and 1541-46) with Ivan IV, and Dmitrii Kantemir (1710-11) with Peter I. In the reign of the Walachian hospodar Michael the Brave (1593-1601), Moldova, Walachia, and Transylvania briefly formed a single state. During the Russo-Turkish War of 1710-13 the population of Moldova fought alongside Russian troops. After 1711 the Turkish sultan began to appoint hospodars for Moldova from among the Greek Phanariots, and Turkish-Phanariot oppression led to increased feudal exploitation of the peasantry. The intensification of national and social oppression gave rise to a broad liberation movement among the masses.

Turkey&rsquos defeats in the Russo-Turkish wars of the 18th and 19th centuries reduced both Moldova&rsquos and Walachia&rsquos dependence on Turkey. The Treaty of Kuchuk-Kainarji of 1774 confirmed Russia&rsquos protection over the Danubian principalities (Moldova and Walachia). However, after the Russo-Turkish War of 1806-12 and the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova, where they had been stationed since the beginning of the war, the authority of the Turkish sultan was reestablished over the area. Under the Bucharest Peace Treaty of 1812, the territory between the Dnestr and the Prut (Bessarabia) and part of northern Bukovina passed to Russia the remainder of Bukovina had been under Hapsburg rule since 1774. The uprising against the Turkish feudal lords, local boyars, and Greek Phanariots that broke out in Walachia in 1821 also enveloped many parts of Moldova. Although the uprising was defeated, the Phanariot regime was abolished and hospodars were henceforth appointed from among the local boyars.

The Russo-Turkish Treaty of Adrianople of 1829 gave greater autonomy to Moldova and Walachia and stipulated that Russian troops were to remain in both regions. In 1832 the Organic Statute was adopted, providing for socioeconomic, political, and administrative changes and promoting closer relations between Moldova and Walachia. A further step toward the unification of Moldova and Walachia was the abolition of customs barriers between them in 1847. A movement to introduce bourgeois reforms began in Moldova in March 1848. Although the movement was suppressed, it dealt a strong blow to the feudal order.

During the Crimean War (1853-56), Moldova was occupied by Russian and later by Austrian and Turkish troops. Under the Treaty of Paris of 1856, Russian protection of the Danubian principalities was replaced by a &ldquoguaranty&rdquo of the signatory powers, and southern Bessarabia was incorporated into Moldova. In accordance with the Paris Convention of Aug. 7, 1858, signed by Great Britain, Austria, France, Russia, Prussia, Turkey, and Piedmont, Moldova and Walachia were designated the United Principalities of Moldavia and Walachia. The convention provided for the creation of joint governmental organs, although in fact power remained in the hands of the separate governments of Moldova and Walachia under the suzerainty of the Turkish sultan. Unification was achieved through the election of Colonel A. Cuza as hospodar of Moldova on Jan. 5, 1859, and of Walachia on Jan. 24, 1859. The united Principality of Rumania was established in January 1862.


Moldova: The Example Of Gagauz-Yeri As An 'Unfrozen Conflict' Region

Gagauz-Yeri Governor Mihail Formuzal (Courtesy Photo) COMRAT, Gagauz-Yeri, Moldova April 5, 2007 (RFE/RL) -- As policymakers search for lasting solutions to Kosovo and unresolved conflicts in the former Soviet Union, many overlook the example of Moldova's semiautonomous region of Gagauz-Yeri. The southern Moldovan region, populated by a Turkic Christian group that fled the Russo-Turkish Wars in the 19th century, launched an independence drive in 1994.

But unlike the region of Transdniester, which fought a short war of independence with Moldova in the early 1990s that remains unresolved, Gagauz-Yeri managed to bridge its differences with Chisinau and now enjoys wide-ranging autonomy. Emmet Tuohy and Melinda Haring spoke for RFE/RL with the region's recently elected governor, Mihail Formuzal, about the history, current problems, and future prospects of Gagauz-Yeri.

RFE/RL: How long have you been involved in politics? What positions have you previously held?

Mihail Formuzal: For the most part, I have never been involved in politics as such, nor do I have much desire to be in the future. Instead, I consider myself to be first of all a manager and an administrator. All of the positions that I have held have been related to working with people. In the army, I served in many positions of authority, just as I have held many supervisory posts in civilian life. As deputy mayor and then mayor of the city of Ceadir-Lunga, and now as governor [baskan] of Gagauzia, I have worked and will continue to work with people. I think that not every person can boast of such a record of service and such work experience as I can.

RFE/RL: Why did you seek the position of governor? What are your priorities for Gagauzia?

Formuzal: I will try my best to answer this question without the unnecessary rhetoric that so many people use while responding to similar questions. I am fully aware of the profound crisis in which Gagauzia finds itself today -- and I am fully capable of leading Gagauzia out of it. I am a hard-working person who knows his goals. Furthermore, I am confident in my strengths and it will undoubtedly help me to achieve my objectives. As for priorities, it is clear above all that my priority is economic growth, combined with ensuring a sufficient standard of living for the people of Gagauzia.

RFE/RL: Did you encounter any problems during the election process? Were the elections in December free and fair?

Formuzal: Of course, there were some problems. However, these difficulties lie in the past, and I do not want to recall them. Moreover, the new authorities do not under any circumstances intend to carry out any investigations, prosecutions, etc. We simply do not have time for it. Today we face much more important tasks. And as they say, let bygones be bygones. [We] have derived some useful lessons and are going to move forward.

RFE/RL: What was the role of the United States and other Western countries during the elections under which you were elected?

Formuzal: Without a doubt, the United States -- along with other Western countries -- played a very significant role in these elections. Let me remind you that the second round of elections was greatly distinguished from the first one by the far freer atmosphere that prevailed. The second round complied with all the standards of democratic elections. Above all, we link this fact to the visit of foreign ambassadors and representatives of the OSCE Moldova mission to Gagauzia. In fact, there were two visits. The first one took place on November 7. Particularly, it was this day and this visit that became a turning point in conducting fair, free, and democratic elections in Gagauzia.

RFE/RL: Does freedom of speech exist in Gagauzia? What is the situation with the mass media?

Formuzal: Once again, let's not talk about the past -- instead, let's focus on the situation we encounter today. The first step taken by new government was the reorganization of all media in Gagauzia from the state to the public sphere. This means that all journalists no longer feel the pressure of self-censorship they can now allow themselves to write and speak in accordance with their convictions. Let me give you an example: the new director of the Gagauz television and radio company is someone who worked in the election headquarters of my opponent -- to be exact, my principal opponent. Allow me to underscore the fact that he attained his new position on my initiative -- because this person is a good professional. Clearly, I could have instead tried to promote to that post someone from my own team!

I have to say that, [since] my first day on the job, I have been receiving a great deal of criticism. I must say these critical remarks have been heard from my very first days in office. I have been working for only a month and a half. This also testifies to the fact that freedom of speech is secure. Yet, I have been entirely at ease with this criticism, since it is such an integral part of the democratic political process. It is true that such criticism sometimes disappoints me, as it is directed not at the policies and activities of my new government, but instead at me personally. Surely you will agree that this does not speak in favor of those who criticize me.

RFE/RL: To what degree is the Gagauz language protected? On what level and how often is it taught in schools? Is the Gagauz language the language of communication among the population and also in government bodies?

Formuzal: I must acknowledge that the Gagauz language is currently protected only to a small degree. The state does not allocate resources to its development. In schools, the main problem is that there are not enough books -- and, in some cases, there are no methodological materials [or] handouts necessary for studying the Gagauz language at all. In daily life, the population primarily uses Gagauz, especially in villages. Still, one can often hear Russian, Moldovan, and Ukrainian as well. However, one must admit that Gagauz society is very tolerant in this respect.

Regarding the use of Gagauz in government bodies, unfortunately it is rarely heard.

I know that the European Union has a great number of programs that provide assistance to national minorities. The new administration will work hard to get involved and to cooperate with these programs. We also would like the EU to devote attention to developing the Gagauz language. During the past century, 70 nationalities vanished from the face of the Earth. The world thus lost 70 languages, 70 cultures, and 70 [sets of] customs and traditions. The world has become poorer in terms of cultural heritage -- and we do not want the Gagauz people to become the next in this sorrowful list. Since after all, we are not numerous, there being only 150,000 of us in the world. The Gagauz people are unique, since the language itself belongs to the Turkic language family, while the overwhelming majority of citizens are Orthodox believers. We want this language to be preserved and secured.

RFE/RL: What is Turkey's role in supporting and promoting the Gagauz ethnic, linguistic, and cultural identity?

Formuzal: It is difficult to overestimate the role of Turkey in these issues. We believe that the existence of our autonomy was made possible thanks to a great deal of support and assistance given to us by the Turkish Republic. It is Turkey that played a decisive role in acknowledging Gagauzia as autonomous, and in resolving this international conflict peacefully. So I do esteem Turkey's contribution.

RFE/RL: To what degree does Turkey support Gagauzia economically?

Formuzal: More than any other state, Turkey has granted us economic assistance. Since the founding of our autonomy, our Turkish friends have worked to help us solve economic problems, and have provided valuable assistance in the social sphere. For example, the principal credit in providing the water supply system of Gagauzia also belongs to Turkey. Our nation will always appreciate and remember this help and attention. However, this economic assistance is not a one-way cooperation. On our part we are trying to create a favorable investment environment so that the Turkish side can invest funds in the economic development of Gagauzia as well as create new places of employment. For this purpose, we have freed them from all kinds of taxes for five years.

RFE/RL: Does Greece play an active role in Gagauzia?

Formuzal: Greece holds a certain interest for us, and for this there are natural reasons. As you know, in Greece, there are many communities and villages where the residents are Gagauz or Greeks of Gagauz origin. In some villages, people. still speak Gagauz. Here in Comrat, there is an active Greek-language study program established with the direct assistance of the Greek government. Greece is financing a number of social projects in Gagauzia. Quite recently we finished the implementation of the first stage of our cooperation, regarding constructing a number of infrastructure improvements. Greece has been very helpful to us.

RFE/RL: How close are your ties with Gagauz communities outside of Gagauzia, especially in Ukraine?

Formuzal: With other Gagauz communities, including that of Ukraine, we enjoy close relations. We are always glad to receive visits from our brethren who live in other countries. Our doors are always open to them. We try to maintain close relations with overseas Gagauz communities in the fields of education, culture, and economics. These are three primary vectors of our cooperation. Practically all our intellectuals maintain close contact with that of Ukraine and these relations are extremely strong and lasting.

RFE/RL: Many have argued that Gagauzia is a model for conflict resolution elsewhere, particularly for the Caucasus, the Balkans, and Transdniester. What, in your view, are the most important lessons for other contested territories?

Formuzal: Indeed, in the middle of the 1990s, Gagauzia and Moldova served as an example to the entire world. At that time, the wisdom of the Gagauz and Moldovan peoples demonstrated that far better results can be achieved when one is armed not with automatic weapons, but with sober minds and political will. For many, it was an important lesson. The leaders of many so-called separatist republics realized that it was not a losing move to undertake dialogue at the conference table -- instead, it's simply a different strategy, one that is often a more effective way of protecting their own interests.

However, the positive achievements of the talks today are being lost to a significant degree. Unfortunately, in recent times we have had cautious relations with Chisinau that lacked trust. These relations were expressed most notably by the center's continuous fear of losing control over Gagauzia and, as a result of this fear, by its constant striving to thrust a leader upon us. It is superfluous to say that such behavior of the central authorities had a reverse effect, and contributed to inflaming tensions in the autonomy itself. However, it is possible to return to trust-based relations. Today, the new leadership of Gagauzia has taken several steps to meet Chisinau halfway. We have clearly announced that we are ready for open, honest, and constructive dialogue.

Our degree of readiness and openness to undertake talks is exemplified in particular by our policy regarding government employees. Approximately 20 percent of the members of our Executive Committee are Moldovans, and among them are high-ranking officials and members of the ruling councils of Moldovan political parties. We do not differentiate among people in terms of their nationality or political affiliation. Examples are not hard to find. The finance minister is an ethnic Moldovan, as is the interior minister. Two weeks ago we approved the candidacy of the Communist Party representative for the position of deputy head of the regional administration, which is a rather high position -- even though I am not a Communist supporter. Our main criterion is professional aptitude. And in this respect we would like Gagauzia to become a place of innovation where the benefits of this approach can be exemplified. It goes without saying that we are waiting for an adequate reaction on behalf of Chisinau. We would like the higher leadership of the country to understand that they can work more effectively with us than with the previous government. There is only one principal condition: that Chisinau get rid of its harmful political phobia regarding the alleged "separatist republic" of Gagauzia.

RFE/RL: Some have argued that Gagauzia lacks real autonomy and that Chisinau calls the shots. Is this true? How is power divided between Comrat, the capital of the Gagauz-Yeri autonomous region, and Chisinau?

Formuzal: We do have the full legislative basis necessary for the existence and functioning of the autonomy. Insofar as the autonomy does not exercise its full powers, it is first of all our fault and only then the fault of Chisinau. From time to time, Chisinau causes some complex difficulties for us, but this is quite understandable. The actions of the central authorities are dictated by the same obsessive fear of losing the southern region of the country. However, the very fact that we in Gagauzia are letting others restrain our own autonomous rights can neither be justified nor explained. We ourselves have not [yet] enjoyed those possibilities provided by our law.

There is no distinct division of powers between Chisinau and Comrat. This delimitation is partially provided by the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova, the Code of Gagauzia, as well as the Law on the Particular Legal Status of Gagauzia. There do exist certain discrepancies between Moldavian and Gagauz legislation. Yet, we hope that in the near term the bilateral Moldovan-Gagauz commission established to eliminate these inconsistencies will [remedy] this problem.

RFE/RL: How would you characterize Russian-Gagauz relations?

Formuzal: Gagauzia has always enjoyed friendly and close relations with Russia. Throughout its history, our people have experienced many reversals of fortune, and fate has led us to live among many different nations. With the Russian nation in particular, we have been very closely connected. Above all, we are thankful to Russia for the land on which we continue to live to this day. We are also grateful for the education that the majority of our nation has obtained. Today, we continue to receive valuable interest, attention, and support from Russia.

RFE/RL: What was the effect on Gagauzia of the growth of tension between Russia and Moldova? How did Russia's ban on Moldovan wine imports affect the region's economy?

Formuzal: The worsening of Moldovan-Russian relations has affected us in the worst way possible. Our economy -- which, even before the ban, was underdeveloped -- was practically paralyzed after [ the ban was enacted.] After all, our region's earnings from the most part come from wine making, tobacco growing, and horticulture. And I remind you that, following the ban on wine imports, there were similar bans imposed on fruit and tobacco. It is difficult to explain the upheavals that Gagauzia has experienced. All of these industries remain in dire straits. But we believe that in the short term we will be able to overcome these problems.

RFE/RL: What has the impact of increased natural-gas prices been on the Gagauz people?

Formuzal: Obviously, it has been very severe. In one sense, there was a reprieve, at least for many of our citizens, as the unexpectedly warm winter allowed them to reduce gas consumption. However, notwithstanding even this, the new gas prices are out of reach for the majority of our population. Many of our elderly are forced to freeze to death in their own unheated homes. Some elderly people have told me that they put bottles [filled] with hot water in their beds. It was certainly a severe upheaval for people. Wages and prices should certainly grow faster than energy prices. Yet for the time being, prices for services are surpassing growth in wages as well as pensions.

RFE/RL: What is the ultimate outlook for Gagauz-Yeri? Do you believe that things are getting better or worse overall?

Formuzal: Not only do I believe that things will get better -- I know it for sure! The new government will do everything in its power so that people will be able to feel positive changes within a year . Increasing people's quality of life is our highest priority. To achieve this change, we [already] have all that we need. We have fertile land, hard-working people, a professional management team, a well-developed action plan and, most importantly, a tremendous will to work for change. We do believe we can change people's lives for the better.


Russia has opened up another front in the Czech Republic

While eastern Europeans are talking about possible next targets in Ukraine (Mariupol, Kharkiv, or everything in between), the occupation of the Baltics (or Moldova, Georgia or even parts of Kazakhstan), Russia is targeting a very central European country: the Czech Republic.

Russia’s efforts to discredit the Czech Republic on an international stage have intensified recently. The so-called “Dragoon Ride” has been a welcomed occasion: soldiers of the American 3rd Squadron, 2nd Cavalry Regiment are currently driving Stryker combat vehicles from Estonia Bavaria, Germany via Poland and the Czech Republic.

This fact has been used by Russian agents, Russophiles and others to stage a loud verbal anti-NATO campaign in the Czech Republic (and to distract attention from own large-scale war preparation efforts).

First those efforts were quite successful, as NATO supporters belong to the silent majority – 82% of Czechs have no problems with Americans driving through the country. Thus several civic organizations and the media outlet Svobodné Forum decided to act, and organized the support campaign “Hi Friends” and Pro konvoj 2015, taking place from 28 until 31 March 2015.

The Facebook-account of one of the organizers and chief of Svobodné Forum Pavel Šafr, in the last days was blocked twice due to Russian influence as he claims. It’s noteworthy that several days ago, access to a Czech and Slovak support letter of Ukraine stating “There is War in Europe: Let’s not Repeat the Munich Betrayal of 1938″ was also restricted.

The Czech Communist Party KSČM organized a protest-booth on 26 March 2015 in Vyškov (with the meager outcome of 50 participants), where a part of the troops were to stay overnight. The KSČM is in fact one of the main players for Russia in the Czech Republic: the party is proud of its past as a communist hardline party until the breakdown of socialism in Czechoslovakia in 1989. It is since ever tightly connected to Russia and Russian/socialists sensibilities, and can be compared for example with the German party “Die Linke.” Its average support-rates are at 14%. Its current head and Deputy Parliamentary Speaker Vojtěch Filip was also listed as collaborator of the Czechoslovak state security (a court decided he had not collaborated consciously). Recently, Filip participated in a demonstration in Prague against western sanctions against Russia (Russia’s propaganda-outlet Sputnik eagerly quoted him at this occasion in English and German). In the recent escalation of events, he told cz.Sputniknews that there was no “Russian danger” and that common military exercises and US presence in Europe would make the situation worse.

The political environment in the last months has much supported Russian ambitions: the pro-Russian positions of the country’s president Miloš Zeman (who, interestingly, is in support of “Dragoon Ride”) and his predecessor Klaus are widely known. Less known is that the governing coalition has repeatedly questioned the sense of sanctions against Russia, and be it not for German pressure, it is unlikely that the two bigger coalition parties would have consented to them.

The first party of interest is the “Protest movement” ANO – which critics say is in fact a protest movement against democracy. Its current support rates are around 30%. The party founder and Slovak-born leader Andrej Babiš is a former member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party KSČ later turned businessman (with the business conglomerate Agrofert), and now additional owner of the country’s most important media and finance minister. Since several months, he staffs the state administration and also his party with his people, absolutely loyal to him, and some therefore call ANO the “Führerpartei.” There has been a high percentage of persons in his entourage who are “siloviki” (i.e. connected to police agencies) that formerly studied at Communist cadre schools, were members of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, or are suspected of having worked for the Czechoslovak Security Service StB. ANO’s party leader is still involved in court proceedings in Slovakia, because he denies the authenticity of state security documents of the Slovak Nation’s Memory Institute identifying him as collaborator for the Czechoslovak state security. There is even a former spy heading a Prague district mayor’s office. ANO has kept a low profile on its position towards Russia, and the new party’s vice president recently claimed ignorance on foreign policy.

The second party is the Czech Social-Democratic Party ČSSD – the party’s program can be called rather socialist, and its position toward Russia is comparable to the appeasing-position of the German SPD. Some have characterized their stances as “pro-Russian or neutral”. The current ČSSD foreign minister is one of the few western politicians who still speak to Lavrov. ČSSD-head and Prime Minister Sobotka keeps a very low profile on all questions related to Ukraine and Russia.

Plus, the concentration of pro-Russian servers and news-portals in the Czech Republic and Slovakia is also astonishing: there are over 40 websites with this mission, and several institutes engaged for the Russian cause – such as the ISSTRAS that in summer 2014 claimed Russia was not responsible for the 1940 Katyń-massacre, when the NKVD murdered over 20.000 Polish officers. One of the most notorious pro-Russian services in the Czech Republic has been Aeronet, active since summer 2014. For example, they have been propagating a theory that the November 2014 street protests against Czech President Zeman were organized by Americans (directly from the US embassy).

There are some other serious points to consider: The Czech Republic – in particular Prague – is considered Russia’s outpost in central Europe. The Russian embassy is the biggest base for Russian spying in the region. With its 125 people it is totally overdimensioned (in comparison, the Americans have 70 people there). The Czech security service for several years now has warned that a significant amount of those persons are spies. The Czech parliamentary deputy Gabal suggested to reduce this amount significantly.


Grand Theft Moldova

The bank theft was so outsized and bold that citizens of the Republic of Moldova came out in the streets this past May by the thousands to protest: “We want our billion back!”

They used the number -- US$ 1 billion – that news accounts reported had gone missing from three Moldovan banks in November of 2014. Unsure who to blame, the protestors denounced the government, politicians, banks and organized crime.

The theft was a serious setback for Moldova, one of Europe’s poorest countries, with a gross domestic product of only US$ 8 billion and an average wage of US$ 200 per month.

It set off chaos in the local banking system and led to the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund suspending financial aid to the country earlier this year. The European Union also froze funding for Moldova until a new government was formed. These moves prompted fears that the country might default on its international obligations.

The protestors last spring, outraged as they were, didn’t know the half of what had been done to them. The November billion was just the latest outrageous crime in a massive, decade-long series by criminals who use this small, Eastern European country as their personal bank.

They also didn’t know that police could have shut down the ring years ago when they confiscated key company stamps and documents central to the corruption ring. But higher-ups stepped in and prevented arrests. The police returned the stamps and documents -- which were then used six years later to launder huge sums.

Moldova’s problem goes way behind a single audacious theft. It involves a transnational nexus of government workers, organized criminals and businessmen, all of them untouchable despite their crimes.

A police investigation continues but it seems nobody in the government or law enforcement has had the knowledge, skill, or desire to get at the root of the problem.

The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) analyzed tens of thousands of records, and found that the same people who stole the bank money operated a seemingly unrelated, large-scale, money laundering operation that laundered more than US$ 20 billion, much of it from Russian and Russian state companies, over the past seven years.

“The main authors of the theft are not in Moldova, they are in the east,” said former Prime Minister Ion Sturza in a television interview. “Moldova laundered Russian Federation money.”

The Vanishing Billions

Moldova is a tiny country squeezed between the interests of Russia and the European Union. Despite or perhaps because of its rampant poverty, it has grown into one of the biggest money laundering hubs on the continent.

Billions in black money flow annually through local banks. Moldova is a proxy – most of the money flowing through its banking system is not Moldovan. But the process has corrupted Moldovan society and wreaked havoc on the country's politics, economy and judiciary.

The November billion vanished after the banks gave loans to companies owned by people whose identities remain hidden in a maze of offshore corporations. The borrowers took the money and ran. The collapse of these loans was a serious blow to a Moldovan banking sector already buffeted by corruption scandals:

  • The Magnitsky Affair began in 2007 when US$ 230 million was stolen from the Russian budget. Eventually, the money was routed through a group of Moldovan banks some of it was traced to high-end real estate in New York City.
  • The Russian Laundromat, uncovered by OCCRP in August of 2014, was much bigger, passing US$ 20 billion in stolen Russian funds through some of the same Moldovan banks en route to Europe.

The Moldovan government did try to trace the missing billion. In January 2015, it hired the private global due-diligence company, Kroll Inc. Kroll’s first report was leaked to the public by Andrian Candu, the Moldovan Parliament's president, just days before the mass protests. It revealed little about who ended up with the money, further deepening the mystery.

Following the Kroll report, the Moldovan authorities placed Israeli-born businessman Ilan Shor under house arrest. Shor’s name had been mentioned in the report in connection with the bad loans. Shor runs Banca de Economii bank (the bank involved in the Magnitsky case and one of the three banks robbed) and a football club in Moldova.

Police are still investigating Shor and consider him a suspect in the theft, but they are unsure of his role. He says he’s innocent. In June, he was elected mayor of the small town of Orhei in Moldova.

A major stumbling block for investigators was the fact that in November 2014, right after the theft, an armored transport vehicle carrying 12 sacks of bank documents related to the fraud was stolen and burned in what looked like a well-executed plan to erase any trail that might have led back to the organizers.

The same thing happened in the Magnitsky case, when a truck carrying bank records related to that theft crashed and burned, impairing the ability of the Russian law enforcement to investigate.

The Raiders and the Stamps

Chisinau building where police found mysterious box of rubber stamps. The fondness for using Moldovan banks for crime dates back a decade. The mid 2000s were wild years when the local police were overwhelmed by both the advanced money laundering techniques the fraudsters developed and by rampant corruption in their own ranks.

A confidential 2011 Moldovan police report summarized that: "Our investigations and analysis indicate that an organized group specialized in ‘raider’ attacks against large companies operates on the territories of Moldova, Ukraine and Russia. Between 2005 and 2010, this group used decisions issued by courts in Moldova, Ukraine and Russia to get more than US$ 100 million."

(A raider attack is the hostile and illegal takeover of a company, sometimes achieved through violence and sometimes through forgery, fraud or corrupt court decisions).

In some cases the raiders were only interested in extorting large sums from companies. A typical scheme might involve getting corrupt judges in Moldova or Ukraine to issue judgments in the raiders’ favor in cases where they claimed fictitious debts from state-owned commercial entities.

Using the court-approved debt as a basis, they could legally take over the company.

The report details a few such cases at length, but one in particular, Penal Case 2008030181, seeded the huge money-laundering tsunami that crashed over the country in the following years.

The Lost Opportunity

In July 2008, Moldovan law enforcement officers were working a relatively small $4 million fraud case when the investigation led them to 67 Bucharest Street in the center of the Moldovan capital of Chisinau. They raided three offices there and confiscated six desktop computers full of files.

It was all pretty routine, until they located three paper boxes under one desk that contained “an imposing number” of official rubber stamps belonging to companies registered in exotic offshore locations.

Two of the stamps were related to the fraud they were investigating, but the rest meant nothing to them: Mirabax Limited, Liberton Associates, Felina Investments, Albany Insurance, Caldon Holdings and many other companies, including some based in the US state of Delaware or the United Kingdom.

Some belonged to Moldovan companies and one of these, Luminare LTD, was a company founded by Veaceslav Platon, a key player in Moldovan political and business circles. Platon, 42, is Moldova’s sixth richest businessman and a politician with dual Moldovan-Russian citizenship. He was a member of the Moldovan Parliament between 2009 and 2010.

He has also been on the governing board of at least two Moldovan banks including Moldindconbank, which has frequently been at the center of money-laundering controversies. He is frequently called by media “The No. 1 Raider in Moldova.”

As police were staring at the boxes of stamps in downtown Chisinau, in neighboring Ukraine their counterparts were conducting their own investigation into a string of raider attacks including the same $4 million fraud.

They, too, found rubber stamps stashed in an apartment in the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital of Kyiv, as well as blank stationery stamped with company letterheads such as the British-based Goldbridge Trading Limited, a company already involved by 2006 in laundering money and defrauding at least one Moldovan company.

Platon’s name popped up in the Kyiv raid as well, but this time the name of the Moldovan-Russian politician was imprinted on powers-of-attorney documents issued by Moldindconbank.

An investigator present at the 2008 Moldova raid, who declined to be identified because he is not authorized to speak, said, “In those times the big frauds, the raider attacks, were conducted via Moscow-Minsk-Kiev-Chisinau.”

Then something really strange happened.

On July 23, less than two weeks after the Moldovan law enforcement seized the stamps and the computers, an order came from high up to return everything. The report says the police did not even have the time to perform forensic tests on the evidence.

Penal Case 2008030181 got shelved and was never worked on again. No investigation was ever concluded on the Ukrainian side, either.

These same companies would be used over and over again in a series of massive money-laundering operations that siphoned billions of dollars out of Russia and, moving through Moldova, into the European Union.

Neither the Moldovan investigators, nor their Ukrainian counterparts, knew they had been on the brink of stopping one of the biggest money-laundering operations uncovered in Europe.

The Agents and the Easterners

In the beginning of 2015, while the Moldovan government was asking Kroll to investigate the November theft, OCCRP reporters were knocking on doors thousands of kilometers away from Chisinau, in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Two street addresses on Brunswick Street in the Scottish capital kept popping up in records of the British companies involved in the November billion theft, and also in many other much bigger instances of massive money-laundering and raider attacks in Eastern Europe.

Brunswick Street does not look affluent. Cheap cars are parked outside terraced red brick housing and the two addresses don’t look like the headquarters for multi-billion-dollar businesses.

The people who live there are “formation agents”, people who set up companies for others who wish to conceal their identities, and “proxies” or front men for the people who actually own the companies.

At one of the Brunswick Street addresses, the door was answered by Ishbel Papantoniou, a plump lady in her early 60s who is the wife of the man behind the Brunswick companies, Marios Papantoniou. He is a former chief tax inspector in Cyprus who moved to Edinburgh in the early 1990s and set up an accounting and company-formation business there.

At first, Ms. Papantoniou greeted a Russian-speaking reporter in a friendly manner. She said that “a lot of Russian companies, from what I know, register so they can work within Europe.” She also added that Russian businesses might want to do this because “it opens a world with less restrictions, so to speak.”

On a second visit, however, Ms. Papantoniou became agitated when the reporter told her that OCCRP was investigating high-level money-laundering operations involving companies where she, her husband, her son and her 81-year-old mother showed up in paperwork.

“I don't think that's any of your concern at all. You're looking into something that you've no idea what you're getting into,” she said. “We offer office facilities for these companies. there's absolutely nothing that's illegal or anything. You're trying to find something in a company that's providing services, that pays income tax, that provides employment for people in this country.”

The offices next door belong to a company called Axiano that was also established by Marios Papantoniou. This company, too, was the registration agent for a number of companies involved in Eastern European fraud. In the office reception area, several women were having lunch. A closed-circuit TV camera was trained on the entrance.

A young woman answered and, in an Eastern European accent, said that Marios Papantoniou wasn't available, but his son Alexandros was.

The former tax chief inspector's son arrived soon after but seemed nervous and reluctant to speak. Expressionless, he brushed aside the questions with the invariable statement, “the best person to talk to might be my father.”

OCCRP made one more attempt to talk to Marios Papantoniou to seek his response to a document signed by Kerry Jane Farrington, an employee of the local Edinburgh Crematorium, who Papantoniou used as a proxy in companies he established for Eastern Europeans.

Marios Papantoniou was unavailable, so OCCRP left the document with a Russian-speaking office worker. Marios Papantoniou promptly responded via email but refused to answer questions about the involvement of his companies in Eastern corruption and crime.

The Grand Mockery

On April 5, 2013, Moldovan Judge Victor Orindas issued a verdict: a group of Russian companies must send US$ 580 million to the Latvian bank account of Mirabax Investments Limited, a Brunswick company connected to Marios Papantoniou and one of the companies whose rubber stamp was confiscated and then returned by the police back in 2008.

The scam, outlined in OCCRP’s series The Russian Laundromat, was simple. A Russian company wishing to move money into Europe would guarantee a contract signed between two fake companies. Then one of the fake companies would file a complaint against the other in a Moldovan court for non-payment and ask that the guarantor, the Russian company, make good on the unfulfilled contract. A bribed Moldovan judge would certify the debt as real and order payment. Then the Russian company would pay the fake company, which was actually working with them. Combined with the judge’s order, the money could be moved through Moldova into a Latvian bank account – freshly laundered and ready to use.

The rubber stamps the police briefly seized seven years previously were used over and over again on documents that were introduced as evidence into Moldovan courts to falsely certify debts that finally amounted to US$ 20 billion.

By 2012, the organized crime group that began operations in 2005 had upped their game significantly and had become brazen. The initial frauds totaling millions had turned into billions. When Judge Orindas issued the US$ 580 million verdict he was ruling on a clumsily forged document other judges across Moldova did likewise, enabling the criminals to move huge volumes of money from Russia.

All the Moldovan rulings were based on promissory notes presented as evidence to courts. In the case of the US$ 580 million, the promissory note was concluded between a Delaware company called Albany Insurance and a British company, Golbridge Trading Limited. Albany promised to pay Golbridge more than half a billion US dollars and the note is signed by a Mrs. Jasse Grant Hester and rubber-stamped with Albany's stamp, another one of the stamps seized and returned back in 2008.

But there is no Golbridge Trading in the UK and there is no Mrs. Jasse Grant Hester. There is, however, a Mr. Jesse Grant Hester who is the director of the Delaware-based Albany Insurance and there is a London-based Goldbridge Trading Limited, a company connected to Brunswick street and, again, one of the names that emerged in the police operations conducted six years earlier in Moldova and Ukraine. In the end, Goldbridge diverted the money to Mirabax, the company that ultimately cashed in in its Latvian bank account.

It’s likely the criminals slightly altered the names each time to provide some deniability and reduce the traceability should the scheme ever get discovered.

The Moldovan judge could have annulled the proceedings just by comparing the promissory note to the other documents in the court file where the original documents spelled the names correctly. In at least one case the fraud was even easier to spot as the text on the promissory note said Golbridge while the name of the company on the rubber stamp that was applied in the lower right corner was spelled correctly as Goldbridge.

Judge Orindas and other judges in Moldova chose instead to ignore the blatant forgeries. Some are now under investigation for their role.

All the promissory notes used to siphon more than US$ 20 billion from Russia were forged in the same way.

On the Russia-Moldova-Latvia route, the money was held for a short time by Moldindconbank, where Veaceslav Platon served as vice president. By the time the transfer transited the bank, Moldindconbank was owned by offshore companies including a Gibraltar firm connected to Jesse Grant Hester, a Brit working as a formation agent and living in Mauritius, and to another proxy, James Damian Calderbank, another British formation agent living in Dubai. Both names, Calderbank and Hester, kept on appearing in the Laundromat's deals but neither would answer OCCRP's questions. Platon did not answer repeated attempts to contact him.

The Bad Banks

The three banks involved in the November theft were owned in the same way as Moldindconbank, by secretive offshore companies. None of the offshores owned more than five percent of any bank, keeping them below the threshold which would trigger greater Moldovan Central Bank scrutiny and ultimately approval. Recently, Moldova lowered that threshold to one percent in the hope of driving out corrupt practices.

These ownership schemes were created after 2008 before the wholesale money laundering started. OCCRP looked at the records and found out that many of the offshore companies involved in the bank’s ownership are also connected to the companies that got the big, unsecured loans on which they would later default.

The same formation agents and proxies have been used over and over. The offshore companies owning the banks also followed geopolitical lines: when war broke out between Ukraine and Russia, the Ukrainian proxies were quickly replaced with Russian citizens.

Meanwhile, the citizens of Moldova are left wondering who stole the November billion.

Sturza, the former prime minister, said those involved in the corruption includes a who’s who of Moldovan politics, sport and culture. But he said many were used as pawns.

“…Platon and Shor coordinated from the outside and executed the schemes in the Republic of Moldova,” he said during an interview with the Interpol TV show in Chisinau.

Sturza said when the amounts being laundered grew to be so huge, the Moldovans demanded a bigger cut, which ultimately led to a collapse of the system.

Platon left Moldova on Feb. 14, 2014, and has not returned. He is under investigation for his role in the theft.

Contributors: Ion Preașcă and Iurie Sănduță in Chișinău
Graphics: Sergiu Brega


Ukraine Or Death: US Delegation Came On Donbass Frontlines Under Nazi Flags

The Ukrainian Armed Forces hung up the German War Ensign of the Third Reich. According to the official representative of the People’s Militia of the Republic it was linked with the recent visit of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.

“At all positions visited by the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, welcome slogans and flags are hung,” the message says.

The video of DPR National Militia, showing the flag waving over Ukrainian positions in the village of Maryinka that is under the control of the UAF, near the DPR border, was released online. The flag was captured by surveillance cameras on the front line.

Probably, such welcoming flags were appreciated by the head of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs Zbigniew Rau, who came in Kiev on April 8, in an urgent visit. Earlier the same day, five main Kiev’s allies, the United States, Great Britain, Canada, Lithuania and Poland, met to discuss the “growth of Russian military activity” near the Ukrainian borders.

Another foreign delegation came in Easter Ukraine on April 8. Representatives of the Defense Attaché’s office at the US Embassy in Ukraine arrived at the frontlines, where they talked with Ukrainian military personnel. US representatives got acquainted with the situation in the region.

Brittany Stewart, US military attaché in Kiev, led the American delegation in Donbass. According to the claims of Russian war correspondent Semyon Pegov, she had a chevron saying “Ukraine or Death” on her uniform.

US Embassy Attaché Colonel Brittany Stewart laid a wreath on the grave of Right Sector militant Vasily Slipak. He was a world-famous opera singer, who fought in Ukrainian Praviy Sektor (Right Sector). Praviy Sektor was initially an informal association of a number of Ukrainian nationalist right-wing radical organizations, formed in 2014 in Kiev. It was later transformed into political party.

The photos were allegedly taken in old Avdeevka, in northern suburbs of Donetsk.

Obsessive propaganda of Ukrainian Nazism with attempts to misrepresent Ukrainian history, became the main ideological tool for Ukrainians in power, who are supported by their Western allies. In recent days, there were numerous reports that Ukrainian neo-nazi movements announced military mobilization and launched military training camps for their reservists and new militants. For example, the base of the neo-Nazi “National Corps”, located in the Kiev region, reportedly opened military training courses. Taking into account more evidences that emerge online, there are no more doubts that the claims about their mobilization in Donbass frontlines were true.

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Putin shouldn’t be informed there’s a US delegation there, or else he’ll send his own delegation to negotiate business and partnership with terrorist Ziocorporate globalists so the Donbass people can enjoy more years of siege by Zioterrorist toy soldiers from Ukraine.

“Pro-Putin” Trump sent more than Nuland’s $5 billion in “lethal aide” to the terrorist EUkraine regime already so Biden really doesn’t even have to send any more, but maybe calling the US/EU terrorists’ office in Kiev and with the Kremlin offering a pipeline to EU/NATO thru EUkraine with 66% discounted gas can revive Putin’s much-vaunted “Normandy format”.

It would be interesting to know what the abusive occupants of Palestine think about this flirting continued among their best Yankee friends and the Nazis Ukrainians, instead there will only be silence, a shameful silence from the alleged victims of Nazism.

Terrorist Ziojews are quite alright with Nazism, unless you belive Holohoax bullshit.
Irgun, Stern Gang and other of the terrorist Ziojew invader paramilitaries brought to Palestine under terrorist British machinations were actually followers of Nazi ideology.

WW2 mythology tells many tales of the Holohoax (denial of which was criminalised by Putin), but zero tales about the Haavara agreement and the many Jews in Nazi ranks.

yep alleged victims is about right and still they clutch the victim card hard as evidence of their misfortunes (entirely self caused).

The squatters in Palestine are supporting ISIS, so its business as usual for them.

if they are lucky they might just help end the evergreen wars the disjointed states of A is engaged in when they are body-bagged from kiev to washington dc, since pentagon can’t handle a situation where white apple-cheeked undereducated dimwits are coming home in body-bags. to end the evergreen wars there must be more body-bags with apple-cheeked white farm boys landing i washington dc (if coloured not so bothersome).

To the average Russian, there may be little distinction between the Nazi flag and the US flag.

Average ozis yep don’t take to sour prout nutzees,unlike their nwo medias ranted in vain.
No coincidence we also brand us as septics too,not quite as dumb as cia/soros trolls wish:

I group the ‘US and the Bandera killers as kindred sprits’.

Some collaborations having continued since WW II.

Wow, that was a lot of reading. The duplicity of empires is legion and the US and its wannabe again, UK empire are no different.

The quote at the end says it all in a few short words.

In my opinion the US/UK obsession with Ukraine is largely due to it being a long time ‘homeland’ of the Khazars, and as we know, the US and UK at all the higher levels of government, education,health services, commerce and finance, etc, are mostly controlled by Khazars or their spouses.

Victoria Nudelman’s forefathers are from Ukraine and they want ‘their’ lands back :)

Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland has Ukraine roots.

Whether she has Nazi roots, I can only search.

That was also what I found.
The hatred in Washington seems to be rooted in ancient times where a Russian Tsar or Prince first forced them to select a the Jewish religion, and then cleaned them all out from Khazaria because they continued their Baal habits of child sacrificing m.m., habits today continued in the Talmud.
Since then the tribe, successful in other places tried to be back. but were beaten multiple times until today where they still face a tough Tsar in Putin.

They were given a choice of religions and their ‘King” chose judaism .
Other nations also bordering the bandit Kazarian lands were also part of the ‘ Get a religion’ demand. :)

U.S. snipers in Afghanistan used waffen ss flags.
Google it…

Unless U.S. correspondents or military personnel document it, it will be dismissed as Russian disinformation.
Flat out. The U.S. does not care as long as this garbage does not happen in our backyard. Little by little this is starting to destroy the U.S. but we will never actually realize it.

The corrupt people we send over there, are corrupt when they come back here. Or as GWB would say, ‘we corrupt them over there so that we don’t have to corrupt them here’

That must be really touch trying to sustain in freedom,whilst the others too buzy promoting stagnet feminazis albiet in vain,seens they lack coedhesion to get on with real economics.

Russia needs to stamp out this virus immediately before it spreads further into the Russian heartland.
Instead the Russian authorities are pretending to stamp out covid.
I guess it’s easier to chase the dragon?

One can only imagine how incredibly motivated the Russian soldiers will be to destroy this Nazi scum, after seeing that flag flying on the Ukrainian side.

Ukropisstan will crumble faster the Georgia in 2008.

3 days. Half of Ukraine taken! Thats my call and also NATO’s call from 2014 analysis! They know it!

ALL of eastern Ukraine will be taken within 3 days!
Mark my words.
When is say Eastern Ukraine i mean HALF of the Ukrainian Nation! Right up to the Dnieper River. From this point Russia will most likely choose to stop! Because if they continue it will become a World War because Europe will panic! The sticky part is that Russia will want ALL of the coastal region of the Black Sea that belongs to Ukraine right to Moldova! Thats why US ships are going in!

Its gonna happen mark my words! The 2014 Maiden was just the beginning. In many ways, Russia has some control over Turkey now too with the Turkstream pipeline!

I believe Russia will take half of Ukraine easily and the world will do nothing except yell and scream. Its the coastal region that will be the hard part. that will be the part both sides have a red line on.

To be honest, i cant wait lol.

No, Russians isn’t going to take anything. They will just destroy the ukronazi forces, and let the eastern regions choose what they want to do. As for the rest – it will probably become a rotting corpse to be dumped on the EU. Let’s see how much financial ability Nato has to really sink in that huge black hole.

Nothing special!…USA forces have links with ISIS and Al Qaeda( during Libyan war)….

If Russia doesn’t take this opportunity to remove the collaborationist regime in Kiev then Russia will be doomed. In case of an escalation in Donbass Russia should commit to a full-on invasion and easily defeat the fascist Ukrainians and liberate Ukraine from EU/USA occupation!
The regular UAF would probably desert at the sight of incoming Russian Army, then only the extremist neo-nazi formations would be left and those must be fully eradicated without mercy. Which won’t be a problem for the Russian Armed Forces since neo-nazis are only good at terrorizing unarmed civilians, the extremist terrorists will go into hiding and then it’s up to FSB to flush them out and put an end to them.

Agree with you!…If Russia dont remove all Nazis and NATO collaborators..then they will face huge problems and the rise of NATO in that part!…if Russia takes all that land East from Dnieper river…then all that EU countries will be afraid of Russia and will take care of not desestabilize it!…

They also need to take the whole coastline

if there is an invasion of eastern ukraine by russia, it would be a favorable time for Romania to regain its territories stolen by both russians and ukrainians…

Although I don’t have much hope from the current Romanian political class totally enslaved to the globalist-Jewish mafia ..

“SORRY”..But Mr.PUTIN won’t go for it right now…There are others things happening on that part in the country..
Follow him…he knows…

It took the Soviet Union about 5 years after WW2 to flush out the Bandera thugs in Ukraine.

This time it will take a lot shorter.

Yes and they were being financed then as well.

Let me think who that might of been for a millesecond :)

There were bands of anti communist partisans hiding in the woods of Latvia as well for about 5 years.

Just take everything east of Dnieper, and form East Ukraine state. Add everything on Black See all the way to Moldova. Install Russian friendly government there, and finish this business forever. If they continue to do monkey business with NATO, then take over whole Ukraine.

Ukraine will be ‘irreparably weakened’ if Russia & Germany allowed to complete Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, warns Kiev’s deputy PM

Ukraine should be balkanized.
That’s the only smart solution.

Won’t just be Ukraine. The US loses big time because it will draw Russia and Germany who is the strongest European country closer together. Then Germany being the leader could then get other European countries and form an economic group with Russia to counter US interests. Of course US gas at three times the price would not be wanted..

Europe must pay if they want to be a free region. Otherwise they will be governed by a dictatorship who will rip off all their minority rights, their ecology and green values.

What they mean is they will lose $3billion in gas transit fees.

new and old boogieman, not creative enough

“US DELEGATION CAME ON DONBASS FRONTLINES”

Southfront please change the word ‘on’ to ‘to’. That is a ridiculous typo that implies that the US delegation кончили.

As I repeatedly said, it is so bad for Americans to do such a terrible thing – to support the Ukrainians and especially to support Galicians who really do have fascist tendencies (which is not the case with majority of the rest of Ukraine). But in the same time it doesn’t bother Russians that their government just recently went out of its way and supported a bunch of Muslim fundamentalists in order for them to achieve victory against Christian and orthodox Armenians who, unlike Azerbaijanis, were militarily aligned with Russia. As a matter of fact Russia armed Azerbaijan for many years despite all Armenian complaints and in the end it stood against its ally. How about that for the morality? Or, Russians are not bothered at all that their ambassador to Croatia had visited the Serbian held Krajina just before the Croatian offensive called “Oluja”. The tight- lipped “Russian brother” didn’t find it necessary to even warn the Serbs about what was going to unfold, and about real possibility of yet another Croatian genocide. Russians supported the Galicians of the Balkans by all means on their disposal including arming them. I ask Russians who pretend to keep high moral grounds: how many orthodox Serbs might have been killed by the Croatian fascists (Galicians of the Balkans) with your weapons supplied to them for many years? Let’s stop kidding around!


Watch the video: Russian Troops 1914-1918 (May 2022).