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Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic

Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic

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The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (PMSSR) was created on the eastern periphery
Transnistria is a breakaway territory located mostly on a strip of land between the Dniester River and the eastern Moldovan border to Ukraine...

 of the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic (MSSR) in 1990 by pro-Soviet separatists who hoped to remain within the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 when it became clear that the MSSR would achieve independence from the USSR. The PMSSR was never recognized as a Soviet republic by authorities in either Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 or Chişinău
Chișinău is the capital and largest municipality of Moldova. It is also its main industrial and commercial centre and is located in the middle of the country, on the river Bîc...

. In 1991, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic succeeded the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.


The Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic from which the PMSSR seceded was created in 1940 following the Soviet annexation of territory belonging to inter-war Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. When Bessarabia
Bessarabia is a historical term for the geographic region in Eastern Europe bounded by the Dniester River on the east and the Prut River on the west....

 was ceded to the Soviet Union as a result of an ultimatum
An ultimatum is a demand whose fulfillment is requested in a specified period of time and which is backed up by a threat to be followed through in case of noncompliance. An ultimatum is generally the final demand in a series of requests...

, it was combined with a strip of land on the left bank of the Dniester
The Dniester is a river in Eastern Europe. It runs through Ukraine and Moldova and separates most of Moldova's territory from the breakaway de facto state of Transnistria.-Names:...

 which had formed the nucleus of a Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (MASSR), with Tiraspol
Tiraspol is the second largest city in Moldova and is the capital and administrative centre of the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic . The city is located on the eastern bank of the Dniester River...

 as its executive capital, throughout the interwar period.

The newly fused territory became the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, and was quickly sovietized. In this process of collectivization and “dekulakization
Kulaks were a category of relatively affluent peasants in the later Russian Empire, Soviet Russia, and early Soviet Union...

,” the left bank of the Dniester had a clear advantage: The territory had been collectivized during the First Five-Year Plan (FFYP) during the 1930s, it had enjoyed a reasonable amount of industrialisation
Industrialization is the process of social and economic change that transforms a human group from an agrarian society into an industrial one...

, and boasted relatively experienced, trustworthy cadres.

The MASSR had been formed on the basis of what Terry Martin has termed the Soviet “Piedmont Principle”: by creating a "homeland" for Moldovans
Moldovans or Moldavians are the largest population group of Moldova...

 across the Romanian border, the Soviet leadership hoped to advance their claims on Romanian territory. While the role of the MASSR in the Soviet Union’s eventual incorporation of this land was negligible— the Soviet ultimatum to Romania did not mention the Moldovan nation, let alone use its right to national self-determination as justification for the invasion— the former autonomous republic did provide a Soviet elite ready to assume leadership in the new union republic.

Perestroika in the Moldovan SSR

In the second half of the 1980s, Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 set the political context for the war in Moldova
War of Transnistria
The War of Transnistria was a limited conflict that broke out in November 1990 at Dubăsari between pro-Transnistria forces, including the Transnistrian Republican Guard, militia and Cossack units, and supported by elements of the Russian 14th army, and pro-Moldovan forces, including Moldovan...

 and redefined the political process in the union republics with a series of reforms that comprised his program for perestroika
Perestroika was a political movement within the Communist Party of the Soviet Union during 1980s, widely associated with the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev...

. While intended to reinvigorate the Soviet system, perestroika also undermined the strength of key institutions which provided for central control of the Soviet Union. Inadvertently undermining the power of the communist party, Gorbachev set the stage for a devolution of power into a federated state structure which essentially resulted in the devolution of power to the governments of the fifteen Soviet republics. This devolution of centralized power to republican legislatures ("soviets"
Soviet (council)
Soviet was a name used for several Russian political organizations. Examples include the Czar's Council of Ministers, which was called the “Soviet of Ministers”; a workers' local council in late Imperial Russia; and the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union....

 in the terminology of the Soviet Union) was matched by a simultaneous explosion of mass participation in the now open debate about the Soviet future.
In the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic, as elsewhere in the Soviet Union, political activity was expressed in various ways, including by organizing groups and clubs independent of the government that had long withheld the right of association to any sort of civil organization. Two sets of concerns were particularly prominent in the debates that accompanied the opening of political dialogue in the late 1980s. The first was concern for the ecologic devastation
Ecological health
Ecological health or ecological integrity or ecological damage are the symptoms of an ecosystem's pending loss of carrying capacity, its ability to perform ecological services, or a pending ecocide, due to cumulative causes such as pollution. it can also be defined as farming so as to minimize the...

 that was so characteristic of Soviet industrial society. The second, and increasingly ascendant concern, revolved around the Moldovan
Moldovan language
Moldovan is one of the names of the Romanian language as spoken in the Republic of Moldova, where it is official. The spoken language of Moldova is closer to the dialects of Romanian spoken in northeastern Romania, and the two countries share the same literary standard...

 (or Romanian
Romanian language
Romanian Romanian Romanian (or Daco-Romanian; obsolete spellings Rumanian, Roumanian; self-designation: română, limba română ("the Romanian language") or românește (lit. "in Romanian") is a Romance language spoken by around 24 to 28 million people, primarily in Romania and Moldova...

) language and national heritage that many felt had been trammeled by Soviet and Russian domination.

These concerns found expressing in the activism of the Moldovan Movement in Support of Restructuring— a movement of the intelligentsia oriented mostly towards generalized economic and political liberalization—and the Alexei Mateevici Literary-Musical Club, which pulled together prominent cultural and political figures, activists and citizens to celebrate and discuss Moldovan language, literature and history. Cultural revival was just one of the issues championed by such informals in early 1988. However, during the course of that year events around the Soviet Union, and particularly the bloody clashes between Armenians and Azerbaijanis in Nagornyi Karabakh and the pogrom against Armenians in Sumgait, brought issues of ethnicity increasingly to the fore in the union press. In Moldova, social movements increasingly began to focus on three issues involving language: the identity of the Moldovan and Romanian language, the artificiality of the use of the Cyrillic alphabet for the Moldovan language, and need for Moldovan to be given the status of official language of the republic. By June 1988, the Moldovan republican government began taking its cue from social movement leaders and discussing these issues, touching off the events that culminated in the creation of the Pridnestrovian state.

Social mobilization came late to the eastern cities that became the centers of pro-Pridnestrovian activity (mid 1989) and it followed a different model than in did in western (Bessarabian) Moldova. Social mobilization in Tiraspol and Bender was mostly achieved through workplace networks called Work Collective Councils Work Collective Soviets
United Work Collective Council
The United Work Collective Council is an organization which led a political movement for the independence of Transnistria from the Republic of Moldova.-Work Collective Councils:...

 (sovety trudovykh kollektivov, STKs). The mobilization in Transnistria was a reaction to the national revivalist mobilization in Bessarabian Moldova. Russian-speaking workers in the eastern factories and Moldovans with a strong identification with the Soviet state used work collective councils to organize opposition to national revivalists in the Moldovan capital. The councils were created throughout the Soviet Union in 1987 with the "Law on State Enterprises" as part of the perestroika reforms. They were intended to foster democratization and increase efficiency in Soviet industry. However, they were also ready-made forums for debate and provided a structure which activists used to take control of Moldovan industry in late 1989. The national revivalist movements were created essentially from scratch and led by cultural figures. The "internationalist" (pro-Soviet) movement in Transnistria took advantage of workplace institutions to build a countermovement and looked to engineers and factory managers for leadership.

The Supreme Soviet discusses language law

Newly empowered by the weakened CPSU, and increasingly pressured by the ascendant movement for national reawakening, the Moldavian Supreme Soviet (which became the Moldovan legislature in June 1990) announced the creation of a body—the Interdepartmental Commission for the Study of the History and Problems of the Development of Moldovan—to research the language question and make recommendations. Staffed as it was with Moldova's Romanized cultural elite, the commission recommended the republican government accept all three points of the national revivalists' demands. (That is (1) the identity of the Moldovan and Romanian language, (2) the artificiality of the use of the Cyrillic alphabet for the Moldovan language, and (3) need for Moldovan to be given the status of official language of the republic. See above.) Armed with these recommendations, the Supreme Soviet asked for the draft legislation to be presented in March for "public discussion" of the proposals "before the next session of the Supreme Soviet" in August. This move did nothing to diffuse the inevitable tension involved with the very project. Proponents mobilized to expand the legally protected role of the state language and push the Supreme Soviet to recognize the identity of Moldovan and Romanian while opponents mobilized to protect the legal status quo. A further draft leaked in August further escalated tensions because its opponents believed that it was even more pro-nationalist and radical than the first draft.

The law was passed in a stormy Supreme Soviet session on 31 August 1989. It declared that, "The state language of Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic is Moldovan. The state language is used in political, economic, social and cultural life and function on the basis of the Latin alphabet." However, it went on to promise protection of the Russian and other languages of Moldova's minority populations. The passage of the language laws was accompanied by massive rallies outside the legislature building in Chisinau with upwards of 500,000 people gathered in a "Grand National Assembly" in Chişinău's Victory Square outside of the Supreme Soviet building to show their support. Elsewhere in Chişinău and other cities, smaller rallies voiced opposition. The most effective, opposition, came in the form of a massive strike movement that originated in the Transnistrian city of Tiraspol.

Strikers and strike breakers

While the group Interdvizhenie-"Unitate-Edinstvo" was the first to organize significant opposition to the language legislation, more effective activity began in the workplace. STKs became the foci around which oppositional activity turned in the early part of the conflict. In Transnistria, close-knit work collectives were ready-made institutional alternatives to the Communist Party cells—also omnipresent at the Soviet workplace. From 1989 to 1991, many Transnistrian party members handed in their party cards or simply stopped paying their dues; simultaneously, the OSTK began using the STKs in the same way the party had used its cells. By the end of August 1989, STKs had de facto control over their factories throughout much of Transnistria
Transnistria is a breakaway territory located mostly on a strip of land between the Dniester River and the eastern Moldovan border to Ukraine...

. Often they worked with, or were dominated by, factory management. Occasionally, they effectively ousted unsympathetic directors or staff.

Many that were to become active in the strike campaign had been suspicious of the language legislation from the beginning—they suspected this to be the first step towards “nationalization” of the republic at the expense of “their country,” the Soviet Union. However, on 10 August 1989 I. M. Zaslavskii, a deputy to the Moldavian Supreme Soviet and resident of the Transnistrian city of Tiraspol, leaked a new draft of the law to the factory newspaper of the “Tochlitmash” Tiraspol Machine-Building Factory im. Kirova. Seeing that the new version would establish Moldovan as the only official language of the MSSR, activists from a number of Tiraspol factories came together to create the United Work Collective Council
United Work Collective Council
The United Work Collective Council is an organization which led a political movement for the independence of Transnistria from the Republic of Moldova.-Work Collective Councils:...

 (Ob"edinnennyi Sovet trudovykh kollektivov, OSTK) and called an immediate strike that eventually led to the shutdown of most major industrial activity (concentrated in the Transnistrian region) throughout the SSR.

The peak of the strike movement came in September 1989 in the immediate aftermath of the MSSR Supreme Soviet's passage of the language legislation. Vladimir Socor, analyst for the Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, places the total number of strikers in the MSSR at close to 200,000, writing, "By August 29, when the session of the Moldavian Supreme Soviet convened, more than 100,000 workers and employees at over 100 enterprises were on strike in the republic; their numbers almost doubled within four days.” This level of mobilization was not long sustained. In part convinced that the language legislation would not be repealed, and in part reassured by the sympathetic conclusions of a commission sent by the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Union, the OSTK (temporarily embodied in the United Republican Strike Committee) decided to end the strike on 15 September 1989.

The strike failed in its immediate goal—to prevent the passage of the language legislation—but it did provide a watershed in Transnistrian history; after the strike, the left bank of the Dniester, and in particular the city of Tiraspol, were essentially controlled by a group of engineers and factory managers hostile to the government in Chisinau, a group that controls Transnistria to this day. In the days immediately before the language legislation was considered by the Moldovan Supreme Soviet the OSTK began issuing a series of very credible threats to the local and republican leadership. At the same time as it was organizing industrial strikes the central committee of the OSTK began sending resolutions to the local government of Tiraspol demanding that the city leadership recognize and support OSTK control over factories and eventually flatly informed the city government that the OSTK had decided to "take the responsibility on itself for the support of social order and discipline in production, and for the provision of normal life for the population of the city in the period of the deteriorating situation." In effect, the OSTK held the factories and their neighborhoods hostage to prod local government acting on their behalf in Chisnau and to warn the Supreme Soviet away from its intended course.

The OSTK did receive some support from local politicians in the larger eastern cities (Tiraspol, Bender, and Ribnita). The city governments of all three cities appealed to the Moldovan Supreme Soviet to postpone making a decision on the language question. The leaders of the communist organization in these cities, however, claimed that they did this just to defuse the explosive situation. For example, Evgenii Berdnikov of Rȋbniţa said "We could not stop this process," at a meeting with Moldovan First Secretary, Semion Grossu. "We were only trying to direct it out of the hands of incompetent people that play on people's emotions." The concession made, he explained, could be quietly dropped at a later time.

While the strikes were extremely effective in paralyzing Moldovan industry, there were many instances were individuals and groups happy with the language legislation managed to win the day and keep their factories open. Moreover, some workers organized anti-strike committees to fight against the activities of the OSTK. Supreme Soviet Deputy from Tiraspol and firm supporter of the language laws, Leonida Dicusar, talked in September about the extreme pressure experienced by those brave few who worked to keep the factories open in the face of overwhelming odds. "I had a meeting with representatives of the anti-strike committee of one enterprise," she told fellow central committee members. "They told me about how they heroically withstood pressure, blackmail, belittling, and insults during the strike from the Russophone population." Elsewhere, the OSTK even had to give in to resistance. On 26 August the director of a textiles factory in Rȋbniţa told the city strike committee that the factory committee was not in control of the situation. "Between the workers there had been fights and scandals. A part of the weavers, about 1000 people, want to return to work and the rest were against them." In light of the potentially explosive situation, the factory director asked the factory and city strike committees to consider reopening. In this case the city strike committee conceded. Far more common, however, national revivalist individuals were isolated and vulnerable. Ilie Ilaşcu, famous for having a Transnistrian court sentence him to death in 1992 for terrorism on behalf of the Moldovan state, is one such example. As head economist of one Tiraspol factory, he was derided as "head extremist" by coworkers before he was fired. His employer reinstated Ilaşcu after he protested with the city prosecutor, but he continued to clash with coworkers and local authorities as the city's branch chairman of the Popular Front of Moldova.

The Troubled Winter of 1989-1990

In both Transnistria and western Moldova, the winter of 1989-1990 was strained. In Chisinau, a popular movement for national revival and national sovereignty was in full force. Activists defied the communist party openly and consistently and in some cases communist officials and symbols were publicly attacked. In Transnistria, activists for the opposing social movement were less of a presence on the streets, but the communist party attempted to reassert its power in the area after being marginalized by the OSTK in the summer and fall. In both cases it was a tense winter as the communist party attempted to regain control of the republic in the face of revolts from two directions: one the national revivalists and the other to pro-Soviets.

In October the communist party began attempting to reassert its power in the eastern cities. During the strike, the city committees and city soviets of the eastern cities had allowed the OSTK to deeply insinuate itself into city government structures; after the strike, city communist leaders tried to take the initiative back into their own hands. For example, cooperation with the OSTK in the city soviets led deputies in Tiraspol, Bender, and Rȋbniţa to suspend the introduction of the language laws and deputies in Tiraspol and Rȋbniţa to agree to a referendum on the creation of a Transnistrian autonomous republic. Once the strike was over, however, communist leaders attempted rollback these concessions. The republican communist party leaders in Chisinau were especially keen to see this happen and put pressure on local communists to repeal "illegal" decisions taken during the strike. In a meeting in October, Associate Chair of the Presidium of the Moldovan Supreme Soviet, Victor Puşcaş
Victor Puşcaş
- Biography :Victor Puşcaş served as member of the Parliament of Moldova , Minister for Relations with Parliament , Chairman of the Supreme Court of Justice of Moldova , President of the Superior Council of Magistrates and Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Moldova .- External links :* * * *...

, in the presence of Communist Party First Secretary, Semion Grossu
Semion Grossu
Semion Grossu is a Moldavian politician and businessman.- Biography :Semion Grossu was born on March 18, 1934, in Satul Nou, Sarata district....

, berated local communists for losing control of the situation in Transnistria. It would look better for the city soviets to repeal all illegal decisions by themselves, he concluded. "However," he warned, "if you cannot get them to repeal these resolutions, we will do it for them." Back home, the first secretaries of the eastern cities convened plenums of the city committees and sessions of the city soviets. Some OSTK members were allowed to attend and participate, but Semion Grossu attended in order to keep an eye on the proceedings and make sure the sessions went as planned. The local communist party meetings called on the city soviets to bring local law into accordance with republican law and decisions adopted by the local soviets supported acceptance of the language laws in Transnistria. Communist-run state media also criticized the OSTK and local communists attempted to shut down OSTK newspapers, a measure that prevented the organization from putting out its publication for much of late 1989.

The situation was even more tense in Chisinau in late 1989. Festivals on 7 November commemorating the Russian Revolution and 10 November celebrating the Soviet police force offered excellent opportunities for oppositionists to challenge authorities in highly visible settings and disrupt events of premiere importance to the Soviet regime. Popular Front activists, often going beyond the official sanction of the movement leadership, organized actions that embarrassed the republican leadership, ultimately resulted in riots in downtown Chişinău. This unrest sealed the fate of the increasingly weak Moldovan First Secretary. At the end of a year that had seen Semion Grossu and his organization pummeled from both the national revivalist right and the "ultrarevolutionary" internationalist left, Moscow replaced the First Secretary in a snap Central Committee plenum in mid November.

The February 1990 Elections

The February 1990 elections proved to be a turning point in the conflict between Moldova and Transnistria. In these elections national revivalists won a large number of seats in the Republican Supreme Soviet (republican legislature) as well as the Chisinau city soviet while OSTK supporters won an overwhelming victory in the city soviets of the big cities in the east. With the communist party severely weakened, the OSTK in essence took control of local government in Transnistria.

The elections themselves were to unfold with an unprecedented level of freedom. Throughout the Soviet Union elections in 1990 brought a rush of new blood into Soviet government and Moldova was no exception. The registration of candidates was done in a new and more open manner and candidates had an unprecedented freedom to campaign and distinguish themselves from competitors. All in all one specialist has judged the 1990 elections in Moldova to be relatively "quite open."

When the votes were counted after February 25, republic wide, the big winner was the Popular Front of Moldova and their allies in the reformist wing of the Communist Party of Moldova. Of the 380 seats in the Supreme Soviet of the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic, the Popular Front would control 101, or about 27 percent. The internationalists had a strong showing as well, capturing almost 80 seats—21 percent. However, while both sides claimed the support of those not formally tied to their organizations, the Popular Front had considerably more allies. The Communist Party had a more disappointing if not insignificant showing, with 53 of the parliamentary seats going to members of the party apparatus and with its members comprising 83 percent of those elected. However, what is of interest to this chapter is that, in 1990 as the republic polarized to the point of schism in September, those apparatus workers that were elected quickly aligned themselves with either the Popular Front and the parliamentary leadership, or with the OSTK-led opposition. There was no significant correlation between apparatus work and either movement.

In Transnistria the OSTK was extremely successful. The organization was particularly popular in the conservative city of Tiraspol. Looking at the electoral adds run in the Tiraspol Dnestrovskaia pravda reveals that of the 40 people who ran ads in that newspaper between January and March 1990, 22 (55 percent) mentioned membership of the OSTK, 21 (95 percent) of which won their seats. Of the 18 that did not mention the OSTK in their ads, only 3 (16 percent) won their seats. Moreover, in this election Igor Smirnov
Igor Smirnov
Igor Nikolaevich Smirnov , is the President of the internationally unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, also known as Transnistria. He has held this post since 1990.- Childhood :...

, the current president of the Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, first successfully ran for public office. To illustrate the point that the election signaled the change in city leadership from that of the communist party to that of the OSTK, it is important to note that Smirnov ran for the position of chair city soviet (head of local government) against the secretary of the city communist party committee; in the March 23rd session that decided the issue Smirnov took the chairmanship with 86 of the 134 votes, defeating Leonid Turcan with 64% of the vote. Events in Bender and Ribnita were similar, with OSTK leaders taking control of local government. The OSTK had only a tenuous hold, however, on the city government of Dubasari and was a minority in some of the more rural districts.

Creation of the Dniester State

Throughout 1990, OSTK-controlled soviets in Transnistria battled with republican authorities in Chişinău, many of the latter also elected in 1990 and that on a platform of national awakening. On 27 April 1990, the Supreme Soviet of Moldova took the symbolic step of adopting a new republican flag based on the yellow, red and blue Romanian flag. This highly visible sign of defiance against the Soviet government served as the pretext for the first big showdown between the republican government in Chişinău and the OSTK-controlled soviets in Transnistria. Within three days, the Tiraspol city soviet announced that it did not accept the new flag. In the territory under its jurisdiction, the flag of the Soviet Union was to be used until that time when the city soviet deputies could decide on permanent symbols. Although the Moldovan Supreme Soviet annulled this decision on May 4, the city soviets of Bendery and Rybnitsa soon followed suit on the 5th and 8th respectively. The continued defiance prompted the Moldovan government to pass a law on May 10 making the acceptance of the new flag legally binding. However, although the police and the court system were largely still loyal to the government in Chişinău, Supreme Soviet deputies were not willing to provoke the sort of outcry that would certainly have arisen if Moldovan officials had gone as far as arresting leading Transnistrian politicians. In the event, the Supreme Soviet continued to fume as events continued to progress in Transnistria. However, it was at a loss as to how to stop them. In mid May, the Bendery city soviet declared its intention to hold a referendum on the creation of the Dniester Republic. The Supreme Soviet again annulled this decision and forbade the holding of such a referendum. The republican government was, however, increasingly seeing the limits of its power to control lawmakers in Transnistria. Over the objections of the authorities in Chişinău, the Bendery city soviet held the election in July and then used the results as a further justification for separatist action. This pattern continued throughout the year.

Quickly moving down the unprecedented path of secession from a union republic, left-bank city and raion soviets needed a popular mandate to justify their extreme actions. They laid claim to this mandate through a referendum campaign that swept through the Dniester area in 1990. In this campaign citizens were asked to vote on a variety of issues—whether or not to create a Dniester state, which alphabet to use for the Moldovan language, whether or not to accept the new Moldovan flag and others. Indeed, referendums constituted an act of defiance in and of themselves as the Moldovan government routinely declared the organization of such referendums illegal and routinely nullified the results.

On September 2, 1990, in the face of the Moldovan declaration of sovereignty from the Soviet Union and with a growing mandate from the referendum campaign sweeping the Dniester region, delegates to the Second Congress of Transnistrian Deputies announced the creation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

With the declaration of the PMSSR, city and raion soviets throughout Transnistria convened plenums and discussed the possibility of integrating themselves into the new republic. While many of the soviet deputies were those same delegates that participated in the Second Congress, these votes were not always uncontested affairs; in the case of the Dubossary raion, the soviet refused to place itself under the jurisdiction of the Dniester state. In the Dubossary city soviet, an organ with OSTK preponderance but not dominance, the majority prevailed with the support of only 49 of the 86 deputies (57%). While results were more one sided elsewhere, everywhere confusion abounded. Many governmental institutions—the police, public prosecutors, judges—remained loyal to the government in Chişinău; some enterprises or villages defected from one local soviet to another to end up on the right side; paramilitary men competed with police to provide law and order, and during 1991 began attempting to evict them from their former stations. Even in Tiraspol, consolidation was to take upwards of a year.

Opposition to PMSSR

While the PMSSR was popular in Transnistria's cities, there was considerable opposition in rural communities. While OSTK supporters took control of city soviets in 1990, this was not the case in most of the raion soviets with their agricultural constituencies. The new leadership of the Grigoriopol raion soviet did not support the separatist movement and the new Dubossary and Slobozia raion soviets actively supported the government in Chişinău.

Occasionally rural loyalists expressed their opposition with appeals and rallies. This was the case on 16 September 1990 when a meeting against the PMSSR was held in the village Lunga, near Dubăsari, with participants from all over Transnistria.

The loyalist raion soviets expressed their opposition by flying the Moldovan flag, and refusing to accept the jurisdiction of Tiraspol. On 17 September the Moldovan government held a working session in Dubăsari in the building of the raion soviet which was loyal to the central authorities in Chişinău.

Moreover, many Transnistrian civil servants, including the police, employees of the public prosecutor's, and employees of the court system remained loyal to the government in Chişinău. These were often the targets of violence and intimidation as Transnistrian authorities attempted to take control of loyalist governmental institutions. Seizing these state institutions took more than a year, and it was finished only after the War of Transnistria
War of Transnistria
The War of Transnistria was a limited conflict that broke out in November 1990 at Dubăsari between pro-Transnistria forces, including the Transnistrian Republican Guard, militia and Cossack units, and supported by elements of the Russian 14th army, and pro-Moldovan forces, including Moldovan...


Key participants

The key participants in the creation of the PMSSR were almost entirely from the ranks of Soviet industrial workers and factory administration.
  • Igor Nikolaevich Smirnov
    Igor Smirnov
    Igor Nikolaevich Smirnov , is the President of the internationally unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic, also known as Transnistria. He has held this post since 1990.- Childhood :...

    : Born in Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky
    Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky is the main city and the administrative, industrial, scientific, and cultural center of Kamchatka Krai, Russia. Population: .-History:It was founded by Danish navigator Vitus Bering, in the service of the Russian Navy...

    , Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    ; director of the “Electromash” factory, 1987-1989; elected Peoples' Deputy to the Tiraspol city soviet, 1990; chairman of the Tiraspol city soviet; elected chair of PMSSR Provisional Supreme Soviet in September 1990; elected Chairman of the Republic of the PMSSR, 1990; elected President of PMR in December 1991.

  • Anatolii Ivanovich Bol’shakov: (b. 1930) general director of the Tiraspol ‘Tochlitmash’ Factory; Hero of Socialist Labor; deputy to the MSSR Supreme Soviet (recurrently); organizer of Interdvizhenie; deputy to the OSTK from the 'Tochlitmash' factory STK from August 1989.

  • Viktor V. Diukarev: among the organizers of Dubossary Interdvizheniie initiative group in 1989; elected Peoples' Deputy to the MSSR Supreme Soviet in 1990; elected Peoples' Deputy to the 1st and 2nd PMSSR Supreme Soviets.

  • V. Emel’ianov: elected chairman of the OSTK on May 19, 1990 at the Third Conference of the OSTK; elected Peoples' Deputy to the PMSSR Supreme Soviet in 1990; chairman of PMSSR VS Commission on the Protection of Law and Order, 1990.

  • Alexandru Achimovici Caraman
    Alexandru Caraman
    Alexandru Caraman , b in Cioburciu, Slobozia district), is a Transnistrian politician. He was the vice-president of Transnistria from 1990 to 2001.He was a communist party leader in Slobozia district, delegate at the 17th Congress of Moldovan Communist Party...

    : Ideologue of Slobozia raional committee of Moldovan Communist Party, delegate at the 17th Congress of Moldovan Communist Party. First Assistant to the Chief Doctor of the Slobodzeiskii raion; elected to Slobodzeiskii raisovet in February 1990; elected one of three assistant chairmen of PMSSR Provisionsal Supreme Soviet in September 1990; elected Peoples' Deputy to the PMSSR Supreme Soviet in November 1990; chairman of the House of Nationalities; elected vice-president of the PMR in December 1991; served as vice-president until 2001.

  • Andrey Panteleyevich Manoylov
    Andrey Panteleyevich Manoylov
    Andrey Panteleyevich Manoylov was a Transnistrian politician, who served as the Acting Chairman of the unrecognized Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic from 29 August to 1 October 1991 in place of imprisoned Igor Smirnov....

    : truck driver; co-chair of the United Republican Strike Committee in 1989; elected Peoples' Deputy to the MSSR Supreme Soviet in 1990; elected Peoples' Deputy to the PMSSR Supreme Soviet in 1990; acting Chairman of the Republic of the PSSMR during the imprisonment of Igor Smirnov in 1991.

  • Grigore Stepanovich Mărăcuţă
    Grigore Maracuta
    Grigore Stepanovici Mărăcuţă , - Grigoriy Stepanovich Marakutsa) is a Transnistrian politician and member of Pridnestrovian Supreme Soviet....

    : first secretary of the Kamenka raion Communist Party committee; elected deputy to the Supreme Soviet of the PMSSR in 1990; chairman of the PMR Supreme Soviet (1991-2005).

  • V. M. Ryliakov: shop foreman in the “Elektromash” factory in Tiraspol; co-chair of United Republican Strike Committee, 1989; chairman of the OSTK, 1990; elected Peoples' Deputy to the Tiraspol city soviet, 1990; vice-chairman of the Tiraspol city soviet; elected Peoples' Deputy to the PMSSR Supreme Soviet in 1990.

  • B. Shtefan: Chairman of the work collective at the “Elektromash” factory in Tiraspol; elected chair of the OSTK in August 1989; chairman of the United Republican Strike Committee.

  • Anna Zakharovna Volkova: Born in Kamtchatka, Russia
    Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

    ; historian; member of the editorial board of Bastuiushchii Tiraspol’, 1989; elected vice-chairmen of the Provisional PMSSR Supreme Soviet, 1990; vice-chairman of the OSTK, 1990-1991; elected Peoples' Deputy to the Tiraspol city soviet, 1990-95; elected Peoples' Deputy to the MSSR Supreme Soviet, 1990-1992; assistant to the chairman of the PMSSR Supreme Soviet; elected Peoples' Deputy to the PMSSR Supreme Soviet, 1990-95; advisor to the president of the PMR since 1996 and State Advisor to the President since 2002.

  • P. A. Zalozhkov: pattern-maker (rabochii-modelshchik) at the "Tochlitmash" factory in Tiraspol; vice-chairman of United Strike Committee, 1989; chairman of the Tiraspol City Strike Committee, 1989; elected Peoples' Deputy to the Tiraspol city soviet, 1990; member of the Tiraspol city soviet executive committee.

Consolidation and collapse

Once the PMSSR had been created, the incipient government in Tiraspol fought an increasingly violent struggle for sovereignty with the Moldovan government in Chişinău. Throughout late 1991 and into early 1992, workers’ battalions, increasingly the beneficiaries of weaponry from sympathetic Red Army
Red Army
The Workers' and Peasants' Red Army started out as the Soviet Union's revolutionary communist combat groups during the Russian Civil War of 1918-1922. It grew into the national army of the Soviet Union. By the 1930s the Red Army was among the largest armies in history.The "Red Army" name refers to...

 officers and defections from among the local military personnel, grew better prepared than the loyalist Moldovan police in Transnistria. Police stations were captured, policemen were evicted, and in extreme cases workers’ battalions and police traded fire. Skirmishes in November 1990, and September and December 1991 witnessed continued Moldovan inability to reassert sovereignty in the region. Throughout the first half of 1992 the violence continued to escalate and culminated in a short, but bloody, war in late June 1992
War of Transnistria
The War of Transnistria was a limited conflict that broke out in November 1990 at Dubăsari between pro-Transnistria forces, including the Transnistrian Republican Guard, militia and Cossack units, and supported by elements of the Russian 14th army, and pro-Moldovan forces, including Moldovan...

. The war left the separatists in Tiraspol with de facto control over most of Transnistria and the west-bank city of Bendery.

However, even as the Dniester Republic grew more established as a state, the end of 1991 brought with it the collapse of the state within which the OSTK activists had originally been striving to remain: the Soviet Union.

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