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New Europe

Day Forty-eight: Chisinau to Tiraspol, Transdniester

Michael Palin - New EuropeIt turns out that the hotel we were to stay in is not yet completed, so we will be given rooms in the Players' Academy. We drive around the huge site, which has two full-size floodlit outdoor pitches, one covered training ground, ornamental gardens and an Olympic-size pool (not finished). We're deposited finally at a freshly painted student dorm and canteen building.

The hard men in black eye us everywhere we go, phones up to their faces. The first person we see who's not in black seems amiable enough.

He comes towards us, beaming.

'Hello mans. You here for the match?'

We nod.

His face clouds as he sees equipment. 'But no filming. You know? No filming!'

One of the anomalies of the political split in Moldova is that the bulk of the country's industry is located in breakaway Transdniester, including armaments, steel, a textile business employing 15,000, and a shoe factory employing 6,000. Also on the wrong side of the Dniester is Moldova's oldest and most productive wine and spirit producer, Kvint (Cognacs, Vines and Beverages of Tiraspol). This 110-year-old enterprise in Lenin Street has recently been privatised and is now owned, surprise, surprise, by Viktor Gusan. It occupies a handsome set of red-brick buildings with a modern extension and I'm shown around by the well-built, strikingly vivacious Galina, who is clearly dying to tell us things but has not a word of English, and the rather more dour, Russian-born Dimitri whose default mode is definitely gloom.

'Is there any restaurant where we can eat in Tiraspol, Dimitri?'

'No.'
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: New Europe
  • Chapter: Day Forty-eight: Chisinau to Tiraspol, Transdniester
  • Country/sea: Moldova
  • Place: Chişinău
  • Book page no: 121

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