Notes on Montenegro and Transnistria

Global Voices Online
Friday, September 22, 2006

In his yesterday's Balkans Blog Roundup, Ljubisa Bojic quoted this passage on Montenegro by a Serbian blogger:

[...] I know how things operate down there. Its also a privatised state - I wonder how long it will be before the Europeans become intolerant of all those Russian businessmen who own hotels and casino's on the coast. EU membership doesnt come for free.

According to a recent article in the Christian Science Monitor, "worries about Russian investors are the talk in many Montenegrin cafes and bars": "[...] Russian Federation investors are sixth, after central European countries and Britain, with 2.7 percent of investments here over the past four years."

One Russian blogger - Sergei, LJ user dromo, 27, a native of Moscow - now lives in a coastal town of Budva, Montenegro, selling real estate. Here's how he ended up there (RUS):

Before [moving to Montenegro], for eight years I worked in big companies like Beeline, R-Style, IBS. But at some point I got tired of being a [tiny part] in a huge mechanism, and I happened to know a little bit of Serbian by that time. And so, totally accidentally, I've found myself here, in Montenegro, and I'm rather happy about it.

Below is the translation of some of his notes (RUS) on life and real estate business in the newest European state (population: 630,548):

July 27, 2006: My [local] colleagues at the agency keep wondering why Russians love [property with] sea view so much - haven't they seen the sea in their lives, what's there to see? And the really smart and rich ones don't want to live right by the water - they buy houses in the mountains, from which you get a 180-degree view of the sea, and they drive to the beach. Nobility nests being built on the slopes of the Montenegrin mountains - a pleasure to look at. And they say that with every 100 meters above the sea, the temperature goes down one degree. At the 500-meter altitude, it could be, say, not 30, but the cool 25 degrees [Celcius]. Food for thought.

August 13, 2006: Went to Montenegro on business. [...] It's like, you know, traveling from Moscow to Russia. I was in the town of Mojkovac, deep inside the country, some 200 kilometers from the coast. What a strange feeling, to be making your way through the clouds not on a plane, but by car. To be driving through [dark clouds] - and suddenly to see that a couple kilometers away, at another slope, [it is sunny]. When you live in a big city, you tell yourself that the sun is somewhere out there, behind the clouds. Here people live together with the clouds, and someone always has the sun, and you can even see it, over there, right across the canyon. This isn't the first time I catch myself thinking in Photoshop associations - we are used to knowing that all that's beautiful around us is artificial, and the idea that the bright colors can exist without Photoshop seems wild. But, just imagine it, it does happen in real life.

The locals like to joke that if you take Montenegro and iron it out - you'll have Europe. Thank god, tefal hasn't had time to get to this country yet.

August 18, 2006: One of my colleagues, named Dragan [...], speaks Russian pretty well. When I asked him where he learned the language, he answered with a sly smile: in Bosnia, I was there in the mid-90s, on a "tourist trip." Russian volunteers [soldiers] taught our [Dragan] Russian during the Bosnian war. I should check how well he can curse.

August 31, 2006: In the village of Blizikuci, not far from St. Stefan, a new asphalt has been laid [on the road]. They placed a sign nearby: Cuvamo put, hvala ruskim komsijama - "The road has been taken care of - thanks to the Russian neighbors." :) And on TV recently, deputy minister of economics said that a draft law is being prepared for foreigners to be able to only rent the land, not buy it.

September 6, 2006: Montenegro Airlines - Fly Our Two Planes!

September 11, 2006: I've heard the sound of Albanian for the first time in my life. I've understood why the Russian accent in Serbian resembles the Albanian one. I've understood that it's necessary to study Albanian. Got reminded that [Shqiptar], the name Albanians call themselves, is translated from Albanian as something like "the sons of the eagles." I was wearing a t-shirt with "Srbija" written on it. I survived.

September 18, 2006: We've started a rather painful divorce from our local partners - so painful that I worry about my personal safety. It's all serious, you know - remember what happened to [Paul Tatum] in Moscow in the [wild] 90s? [...]

The reason for divorce was a series of systematic failures to process our clients' paperwork properly and, to put it mildly, a strange price policy. Of course, they aren't excited about the fact that we'll start working with others and directly. [...]

Meanwhile, I've become the director of the Montenegrin firm, have rented an office and soon I'll be buying furniture for it. The office is in a very decent place and, if all goes well, we'll become the best agency in Montenegro.

September 22, 2006: We rode on the Adriatic highway [...] today - and passed a group of artillery [vehicles] with VJ - Vojska Jugoslavije [Yugoslav Army] on their [license plates] [...]. My Montenegrin colleagues started honking to them and greeting them with "three fingers." It's scary to think what was happening here when the army was on its way to fight, not just moving cannons from one place to another. Patriots.


Ukrainian blogger Dmytro Hubenko - LJ user dmytro, 26, Kyiv - ruminates on the degrees and expressions of patriotism, too (UKR):

What is easier/harder for you to take: a Russian-language book published by a Ukrainian entrepreneur in Ukraine - or a Ukrainian-language book published by a foreign investor (perhaps, even in another country)? Let's assume that the quality [...] of both books is more or less the same. In other words, which aspect of patriotism is closer to you - cultural or economic? (I, no doubt, prefer cultural [patriotism].)

A few days ago, dmytro returned from Transnistria, "the unrecognized state [that] has been de facto independent from [Moldova] since September 2, 1990."

Unlike Montenegro, whose people have recently voted for and gained independence from Serbia, Transnistria's ultimate goal isn't just independence from Moldova, but a union with the Russian Federation. In the two-question referendum this past Sunday, 97.1 percent of voters voted in favor of the region's 16-year-old independence course and the eventual union with Russia (2.3 percent oppose this) and 94.6 percent voted against a union with Moldova (3.4 percent support it). Nearly 79 percent of Transnistria's 390,000 registered voters took part in the referendum; the region's overall population is 547,500 people.

LJ user dmytro has posted photos and comments (UKR) from his trip to Transnistria (to view the photos, please visit the original entry):


[Tiraspol] - the former capital of [Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic] (an autonomy [that used to be] part of the [Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic]). Just 100 kilometers from [Odesa]...


Anti-Moldovan campaign ads with the slogan "There is no place for alien words in our country" - on the photo, the Russian words "bread" and "bun" are transliterated in the Latin script. A retrospective to 1990, when the first push toward [breaking away from Moldova] was latinization of the [Moldovan language]. By the way, there was no campaigning whatsoever "against" independence and joining Russia.



This is [Bendery]. A monument to those who died fighting against Moldovans in 1992 [some 1,500 people].


The old Bendery fortress located inside a military base. We were not allowed to visit it [...]. Too bad. I think that because of paranoically keeping itself closed, [Transnistria] loses lots of tourists - and not just the political ones.


Transnistria is sadly known for being trilingual - unfortunately, [the three languages - Russian, Ukrainian, Romanian] are visible only on the government and road signs. In reality, the official language of [Transnistria] is Russian only.

To my mind, [Transnistria] is integrated with at least three states. With Russia - politically [...]. With Ukraine - economically, on the level of medium-size business (in supermarkets [...], there are mainly Ukrainian-made goods). And with Moldova - through transportation (mini-buses run every 20 minutes from Tiraspol to [Chisinau], while it's very difficult to get to Odesa). [...]

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