22 October 2018

The Unrecognised Country

22 October 2018 - Written by PhMuseum

Anton Polyakov takes us into the everyday life of the people of Transnistria, a multi-ethnic borderland unrecognised by any official international authorities.

As the Soviet Union broke up and Moldova became an independent state, the small territory known as Transnistria, where Russian is the dominant language and pro-Russian sentiment prevails, sought to break away. In 1992, Moldova decided to regain Transnistria as an independent state and started a military conflict. The conflict was stopped by Russia, entering the region with their troops and engaging in a peacemaking mission.

Despite its non-recognition, Transnistria is now a presidential republic. It has its legislative and executive authority, state border and army, its own constitution, flag, emblem and anthem. The citizens of the region have their own currency and passports, although they are not valid anywhere else other than in Transnistria. For the past 27 years, the people of Transnistria, a region spanning approximately 125 by 20 miles, have lived in a frozen state. During this time, a new generation has formed and I belong to it.

My project is built around the simple Transnistrians and their daily lives. These are people of different generations and epochs, residents of urban and rural areas. They belong to various nations and cultures. As Transnistria has always been a borderline region, it can be compared to a melting pot, where Russians, Moldovans, Ukrainians and dozens of other ethnic groups have lived together for several centuries, and today form the community named Transnistrians. I wanted to show the people hidden under the label of “the non-existent country”, who managed to adapt to the complicated political situation and to the life in country, recognised only by them.

Words and Pictures by Anton Polyakov.


Anton Polyakov is a freelance photographer living and working in Tiraspol, the capital of the unrecognised state, Transnistria. Anton is interested in the historical and cultural memory of the region in which he resides, and the influence of the uncertain status of the territory and what the local people face in their daily lives. Follow Anton on PHmuseum, Twitter, and Instagram.


This feature is part of Story of the Week, a selection of relevant projects from our community handpicked by the PHmuseum curators.

Selected by


Reading time

3 minutes

Support PhMuseum Journalism

Since 2012 PhMuseum's articles have always been free and without ads. Every year we work to keep you informed and invite you to discover the work of hundreds of photographers. If you enjoy reading us, this can be a nice way to give back and support our independent organisation, granting us more means to increase the quality and number of contents. Thank you!