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The Sad Truth about Moldova

Please bear in mind that whenever I start describing the downsides of Moldova, I sort of become disappointed with how bad things actually are, and my style changes to a more pessimistic one, so I may go over the edge a little bit.

On many web pages you'll find words like:"Moldova is a very beautiful country, where people are kind and friendly etc. etc. etc.". OK, this is partly true, but unfortunately now it's not a very pleasant place to live in. First, according to some statistics, Moldova is the most underdeveloped country in Europe. Secondly, it's one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Wow, isn't it a nice place? :) The majority of the industrial sites are situated on the left bank of the Dniester river, i.e. are controlled by the breakaway Transnistria (Pridnestrovye in russian). The rest are fighting hard for survival, some of them have already ceased to function (like the TV plant in Chisinau). Rural population is involved almost exclusively in agriculture (very close to natural type of production). In Chisinau (the only real city in the country) you might not notice the economic crisis of the country, until you try to get a job and make a living out of it. The minimum legal monthly wage is less than 500 MDL. The average monthly wage is below the minimum consumption basket necessary for survival. The average pension is even less.

You can also understand that the country isn't doing well in the evenings, when one street light out of ten is lit. In the living areas often no street lights are on, and you could literally break your neck, if you make a wrong step. Also, periodically we have full scale energy crises. In March 2000 Russia stopped exporting natural gas to Moldova for about two weeks. Same happened in January 2006 after Russia had raised gas prices. The country was saved from freezing (this was the coldest winted in years, with temperatures of minus 20 Celsius) by neighbouring Ukraine which experted into Moldova some of their imports from Russia. And gas is used for generating electricity (a big part of it), which, in turn, is needed to heat up and pump water through the water mains. Electricity is imported from Romania and Ukraine (home production is about 40% I think). So the country is effectively dependent on other countries.

An interesting phenomenon in Moldova is that a very large proportion of national income is generated by illegal Moldovan workers abroad, in Italy, Portugal, Spain, Germany, Czech Republic, Hungary, Russia and others. Naturally, it's not taken into consideration in national income accounting but the size of this income exceeds the yearly budget of Moldova (this budget isn't effective anyway) and totals about 1 billion USD per year.

The population of Moldova tends to decrease (by over 10 000 people a year) due to emigration (Germany, Canada, Israel), low birth rates and high infant death rates.

People in Moldova are very reluctant and passive when it comes to defending their own rights. It's a part of the Soviet heritage, when nobody had any rights, so the people don't have the habit to protect themselves and even if they want to, they may not know how. Moldovans are very quiet people (except some angered social groups when they have a leader, like pensioners and students in 2000, plus civil war and Afganistan War veterans). But an average person won't bother, because they don't believe in the power of the public opinion. That's another reason why little improves in the villages where people are least educated in all aspects. They'd rather sit and wait than try to do anything, because they are used to it and it's become almost a norm for them. I think, it's one of the major underminers of the progress, otherwise I think corruption would be much less spread and tolerated etc. And it's this passive attitude that allowed the Communist party to totally win the parliament elections on February 25th, 2001 - people actually not supporting them didn't go to the elections or couldn't just decide whom to vote for. As a result, most parties (all but three) didn't get enough votes to get even one person into the parliament. But that's a whole other story.

One of the major depressants in Moldova is the ongoing conflict with the breakaway Transnistrian Republic. This part of Moldova behind the Dniester river proclaimed its independence in 1992. No country has so far recognised it. Between 1992 and 1994 there was a war between the official Moldovan government and Transnistria, which led to nothing but many deaths, destruction of many people's households and general aggravation of the situation. The Transnistrian authorities have effectively brainwashed many of their people through propaganda, making them believe that Moldova was going to join Romania and that the Russian speaking population would be oppressed. Because the Russian and Ukranian minorities each had about 30% of population of the area in question, many must have believed this b******t. To their advantage, the Russian 14th Army under the command of the General Alexander Lebed was stationed there (and still is, despite numerous pledges to withdraw). Although not officially proven/accepted, many people think that the Transnistrians used the Russian munitions to fight the war. It is a fact that Russian Cossacs came in during the war and fought against the Moldovan Army. Anyway, things are now exactly where they were before the war, and all efforts to unite the country have failed.