Continuing on from my previous post, my friend Jessie (The Wandering Kiwi) and I were recently travelling together in the Wild Wild East of Europe (Ukraine, Moldova, Transnistria, Belarus and Poland) and we decided we wanted to track down statues, monuments and the like dedicated to the glory of the former Soviet Union and in particular one Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov aka Lenin (1870 – 1924). Now as mentioned in the last post this was not an easy task in countries like Ukraine that have gone through an extensive de-communisation process and removed monuments dedicated to Soviet leaders who inflicted a totalitarian and cruel society upon them (reminders of a grim past).
In Moldova and especially Transnistria, Lenin monuments can still be found in many places though and you can even find Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin and revolutionary socialist Karl Marx ! We actually saw numerous interesting variations of Lenin portrayals from giant heads to statues in varying stances and in various colours including red, silver and even green!
Moldova – Chisinau
The capital of Moldova, Chisinau has an interesting monument to Lenin and Karl Marx. You can find it on the far side of the Valea Morilor Park. Oh, by the way don’t get too carried away checking out the sights in Chisinau without registering your passport within 3 days of your arrival in Moldova either or you may get a nasty fine upon departure (some old Soviet traditions remain it seems)!
Moldova – Transnistria
Transnistria is the little Moldovan breakaway “country” which only Transnistrian’s officially recognize as a country – despite this it has its own government, border control, army, currency etc. (you will see it all if you visit)! It has been this way since a ceasefire was announced following the military conflict that was fought from March to July 1992 between the breakaway territory and Moldova. The two main cities are Bender and the capital of Tiraspol. Once you pass through border control you will have your 10 hour visa for Transnistria so get going and make the most of the brief time you have available!
After exploring the fortress, head into town and look for the “Green Lenin” and “Champagne Lenin”. They are quite close to each other, one in a public space and the other outside some sort of school. There are so many coats of paint on the green one! Once you have had a look around catch a local bus to Tiraspol as your 10 hour visa is fast running out!
Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, has numerous streets named after Soviet leaders and identities along with grand Soviet era buildings and monuments. The Lenin outside the House of Parliament, high atop a column with his cape fluttering in red stone, was by far the most impressive in Moldova. Once you are done looking around catch a minibus back to Chisinau ASAP as your 10 hour visa into Transnistria is most likely just about up!
In my next post I will take you onto the streets of Minsk and other towns in Belarus in our ongoing quest for Lenin. Just like Moldova there is no de-communisation of monuments going on in Belarus just yet!