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Satellites

The Soviet collapse spawned 15 new countries that are now established members of the international community, but also a few far less known – and internationally unrecognized republics.

“Satellites” is a photographic journey by Jonas Bendiksen through the scattered enclaves, unrecognized mini-states, and other isolated communities that straddle the former satellite states of the now defunct USSR.

Transdniester – the breakaway region of Moldova (under Russian de-facto control)

Transdniesterian deputy minister of defense looking lovingly at an Alazan missile in front of a scene from 1992 breakaway war with Moldova. The Alazan missile has been in the media's focus as of late, with a Washington Post article accusing Transdniester of lacing the small missiles with nuclear dirty bomb warheads, something the government strongly denies. 2004

Transdniesterian deputy minister of defense looking lovingly at an Alazan missile in front of a scene from 1992 breakaway war with Moldova. The Alazan missile has been in the media’s focus as of late, with a Washington Post article accusing Transdniester of lacing the small missiles with nuclear dirty bomb warheads, something the government strongly denies. 2004

Crows circle a statue of Lenin in front of the Supreme Soviet building. Transdniester is in many ways one of the last bastions of communist nostalgia in the former USSR.

Crows circle a statue of Lenin in front of the Supreme Soviet building. Transdniester is in many ways one of the last bastions of communist nostalgia in the former USSR.

People on a bus commuting to a factory in the cold winter morning.

People on a bus commuting to a factory in the cold winter morning.

Patrons of "Red Heat", a local bar, drinking under banners with the Soviet hammer & sickle. In Transdniester, nostalgia for the USSR runs very high.

Patrons of “Red Heat”, a local bar, drinking under banners with the Soviet hammer & sickle. In Transdniester, nostalgia for the USSR runs very high.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova's heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova’s heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

Streetscene during a snowstorm

Streetscene during a snowstorm

The population of Transdniester is mainly ethnic Russians, and the main religion is Russian Orthodox Christianity. Here a priest gives his blessings before a christening in the icy waters of January.

The population of Transdniester is mainly ethnic Russians, and the main religion is Russian Orthodox Christianity. Here a priest gives his blessings before a christening in the icy waters of January.

Russian stripper in a nightclub.

Russian stripper in a nightclub.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova's heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

Steel mill. Despite the nationalist rethoric of the breakaway war with Moldova in 1992, critics of Transdniester see their quest for independence as a power grab by factory chiefs and economic elite of the region. Nearly all of Moldova’s heavy industry was located in the Transdniester region, and Transdniestrian independence is catastrophic for Moldova.

People headed to work in the morning.

People headed to work in the morning.

Outside the underground bar Prokhlada, a sign warns of the clubs conditions: No hand grenades, guns, knives, syringes, bottles, gas canisters or fighting allowed

Outside the underground bar Prokhlada, a sign warns of the clubs conditions: No hand grenades, guns, knives, syringes, bottles, gas canisters or fighting allowed

People attending a church-run soup kitchen. Most Transdniestrians are poor, and a large portion of the population are pensioneers longing for the better times of the USSR.

People attending a church-run soup kitchen. Most Transdniestrians are poor, and a large portion of the population are pensioneers longing for the better times of the USSR.

 

*In 2013, Moldova (together with Ukraine) seeked to strengthen economic and political relations with Europe. As a result, a Russian envoy was sent to Moldova’s capital Chisinau: “Energy supplies are important in the run-up to winter. I hope you won’t freeze”, suggesting Russia will cut off gas supplies to Moldova for its pro-Europe stance. (source)

The Other Moldova – Investigating illegal arms trafficking and accusations of possession of weapons of mass destruction

The breakaway Republic of Transnistria looks set to be the cause of more tensions between Russia and Moldova.

When the Soviet Union collapsed, Eastern Moldova broke away from the rest of the country and moved closer to Russia. The self styled Republic of Transnistria is recognized by no other nation. It relies on 1,200 stationed Russian troops for protection and its criminal gangs have moved into Moldova. Now Moldova is pushing for a Russia withdrawal from Transnistria. “Transnistria is a festering criminal sore which is infecting all its neighbors,” states expert Dr Galeotti.

 Documentary analyzes the corruption and Russian connections

 The danger Transnistria presents as weapon smuggling haven

 

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Abkhazia, South Ossetia – breakaway regions of Georgia (under Russian de-facto control)

Although Abkhazia is isolated, half-abandoned and still suffering war wounds due to its unrecognized status, both locals and Russian tourists are drawn to the warm waters of the Black Sea. This unrecognized country, on a lush stretch of Black Sea coast, won its independence from the former Soviet republic of Georgia after a fierce war in 1993.

Although Abkhazia is isolated, half-abandoned and still suffering war wounds due to its unrecognized status, both locals and Russian tourists are drawn to the warm waters of the Black Sea. This unrecognized country, on a lush stretch of Black Sea coast, won its independence from the former Soviet republic of Georgia after a fierce war in 1993.

With its lush Black Sea location, Abkhazia is trying to attract Russian tourists. Here, at a road stop on the tour bus route, an entrepreneur, who charges tourists 10 rubles to photograph his bear, catches his breath between busloads.

With its lush Black Sea location, Abkhazia is trying to attract Russian tourists. Here, at a road stop on the tour bus route, an entrepreneur, who charges tourists 10 rubles to photograph his bear, catches his breath between busloads.

Babushka "Tanya," an elderly ethnic Russian woman, heads back to her bombed out apartment building after walking her dog. Despite the damages, three apartments remain occupied in the building

Babushka “Tanya,” an elderly ethnic Russian woman, heads back to her bombed out apartment building after walking her dog. Despite the damages, three apartments remain occupied in the building

Babushka Tanya's run down apartment. Her building was on the front line between Abkhazian and Georgian forces during the 1993 war.

Babushka Tanya’s run down apartment. Her building was on the front line between Abkhazian and Georgian forces during the 1993 war.

People sailing out on the Black Sea.

People sailing out on the Black Sea.

Russian tourist girl in a Soviet-era resort "Pensionat Energetik," on the coast of Gagra.

Russian tourist girl in a Soviet-era resort “Pensionat Energetik,” on the coast of Gagra.

Damaged apartment building on the outskirts of Sukhum. Some of the apartments are still occupied.

Damaged apartment building on the outskirts of Sukhum. Some of the apartments are still occupied.

A man with Tuberculosis. Abkhazia has high rates of TB. "Doctors Without Borders" supply the DOTS treatment in this hospital.

A man with Tuberculosis. Abkhazia has high rates of TB. “Doctors Without Borders” supply the DOTS treatment in this hospital.

Pentecostals listen to preacher in a cellar of former synagogue. Tshinvali, South Ossetia, 2009

Pentecostals listen to preacher in a cellar of former synagogue. Tshinvali, South Ossetia, 2009

Burnt school in one of the Georgian enclaves. South Ossetia, 2009

Burnt school in one of the Georgian enclaves. South Ossetia, 2009

Municipal orphanage, Tshinvali, South Ossetia, 2009

Municipal orphanage, Tshinvali, South Ossetia

Andrei Nekrasov’s documentary “Russian Lessons” focused on the two breakaway regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The following are 2 extracts

Abkhazia

South Ossetia

BBC documentary

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Nagorno-Karabakh – breakaway region of Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh

Azerbaijan. Nagorno-Karabakh

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh NYC51118

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh 1

AZERBAIJAN. Nagorno-Karabakh 2

How the conflict began (Ferghana valley and its involvement mentioned at 20:30)

Nagorno Karabakh conflict thoroughly explained, including the Russian involvement

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Uzbekistan – Ferghana Valley

The most complicated border negotiations in the Central Asia region involve the Fergana Valley, where multiple enclaves struggle to exist. Three countries share in the tangled border region; Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan all have historic and economic claims to the regions transport routes and natural resources.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, border negotiations left substantial Uzbek populations stranded outside of Uzbekistan. In south-western Kyrgyzstan, a conflict over land between Kyrgyz and Uzbeks exploded in 1990 into large-scale ethnic violence (reoccurring in 2010). By establishing political units on a mono-ethnic basis in a region where various peoples have historically lived side by side, the Soviet process of national delimitation sowed the seeds of today’s inter-ethnic tensions.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley 2002 An Uzbek border patrol surveys one of the valley's seven territorial enclaves. The myriad borders of the valley make it hard to control and ideal for smugglers.

An Uzbek border patrol surveys one of the valley’s seven territorial enclaves. The myriad borders of the valley make it hard to control and ideal for smugglers.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley The government crackdown on Islam is forcing religion underground, into secret schools and mosques such as this one.

The government crackdown on Islam is forcing religion underground, into secret schools and mosques such as this one.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley A father who has three sons in jail for unsanctioned religious activity.

A father who has three sons in jail for unsanctioned religious activity.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley A woman who has lost most of the men in her family tp religious persecution. She has also been accused of religious crimes.

A woman who has lost most of the men in her family to religious persecution. She has also been accused of religious crimes.

Uzbekistan Ferghana Valley Here in the center of the underground religious movement, nearly all men keep a close shave to avoid government suspicion

Here in the center of the underground religious movement, nearly all men keep a close shave to avoid government suspicion.

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Kazakhstan – the toxic Russian rocket fuel issue

Toxic Russian Rocket Fuel Target of Kazakh Anger 

A nationalist political party in Kazakhstan has called on the government to ban future launches of Russian Proton-M carrier rockets from the Baikonur Cosmodrome over concerns that they spew a particularly toxic form of rocket fuel into the Kazakh steppe.

Also at play are issues of sovereignty arising from the intergovernmental agreements governing Russia’s use of the Baikonur Cosmodrome, which the NSDP views as an affront to “the concept of sovereignty of Kazakhstan!” READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

Kazakhstan A band of scrap metal dealers scan while waiting for a rocket to crash.

A band of scrap metal dealers scan while waiting for a rocket to crash.

Kazakhstan The flaming wreck of the same rocket after it crashed during the night.

The flaming wreck of the same rocket after it crashed during the night.

Kazakhstan The fiery wreck of a rocket after it crashed during the night.

The fiery wreck of a rocket after it crashed during the night.

Kazakhstan A Soyuz rocket fuel tank lies on the steppe.

A Soyuz rocket fuel tank lies on the steppe.

Kazakhstan Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, surrounded by thousands of white butterflies. Environmentalists fear for the region's future due to the toxic rocket fuel.

Villagers collecting scrap from a crashed spacecraft, surrounded by thousands of white butterflies. Environmentalists fear for the region’s future due to the toxic rocket fuel.

Kazakhstan Altai Dead cows lying on a cliff. The local population claim whole herds of cattle and sheep regularly die as a result of rocket fuel poisoned soil

Dead cows lying on a cliff. The local population claim whole herds of cattle and sheep regularly die as a result of rocket fuel poisoned soil.

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