Tensions high on Ukraine’s border with Moldova’s breakaway Transnistria

When on April 6 activists of the EuroMaidan Revolution came with Ukrainian flags and flowers from Odessa to Kuchurgan village located on the Ukrainian border with Transdnistria, they didn’t expect such an icy greeting.

The activists tried to organize a symbolic performance, burying a “hatchet of war” and planting a “tree of friendship” near the border line with Moldova’s breakaway region, unrecognized internationally. They covered the tree with a tire painted in blue-and-yellow colors of Ukrainian flag.

But a group of local residents quickly dug out the hatchet, saying that it “will be handy in the household” and started a fight with the EuroMaidan activists, urging them to go away. The locals also uprooted and destroyed the tree, Odessa website Vgorode reported.

In Kuchurgan, which is just hundreds of meters from Transdnistria and is sustained by a border control checkpoint with the unrecognized republic, the majority of people share pro-Russian views just as their neighbors across the border.

“The majority of the population here is supporting (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and they are ready to meet him with bread and salt,” said Mykola, a resident of Kuchurgan, who didn’t give his last name fearing retribution from the neighbors. “They even removed the Ukrainian flag from our school over three weeks ago.”

Transdnistria is technically part of Moldova, but it is controlled by Russian-backed authorities and survives thanks to Russian military presence and economic help.

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(Photo of street sign with Transnistria’s flag and coat of arms – based on the designs of the Moldovan Soviet republic, in Transnistrian capital Tiraspol, by Guttorm Flatabø/flickr.com.)



Oksana Grytsenko of The Kyiv Post

Oksana Grytsenko is a Kyiv Post staff writer.