Anarchism in Transnistria

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Such as it is, anarchism in Transnistria has short but certainly extant history. Numerous historical anarchists have been linked to the region, primarily the capital of Tiraspol.

Control of the territory that is today Tranistria (also called Trans-Dniestr or Transdniestria) has switched hands between a number of different historical entities, among them the Thracian and Scythian tribes, the ancient Roman Empire, the Goths, the Ulichs, the Tivertsi, the Cumans, the Pechenegs, the Kievan Rus', the Grand Duchy of Lithuania, the Mongol Empire, the Crimean Khanate, the Ottoman Empire, the Russian Empire, the Ukrainian People's Republic, the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union, the Transnistria Governorate of the Kingdom of Romania, and the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic.

Since 1990, Transnistria, while internationally recognized as part of the Republic of Moldova, is a breakaway state. It is governed as the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR, also known as Pridnestrovie), and has a limited independent political climate.


One individual proposed by some to be Jack the Ripper, the man behind the notorious Whitechapel murders, was Nikolay Vasiliev, a religious radical born in Tiraspol in 1847 and educated at Odessa University. He is said to have emigrated to Paris in 1876, where he began suffering from "monomania". Vasiliev is said to have been arrested for several murders in Paris and interned in an asylum, before being released and leaving for London shortly before the first Whitechapel murder. Numerous contemporary news sources and books dubbed Vasiliev an anarchist.[1][2][3]

Peter Kropotkin (1842–1921), often seen as the most important theorist of anarchist communism, wrote in his seminal scientific work Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution, published in 1902 while Kropotkin was exiled in London, briefly about the region. In Chapter 7 of the book, he mentions how the "Bulgares in the district of Tiraspol, after having remained for sixty years under the personal-property system, introduced the village community in the years 1876–1882", thus reintroducing a communal type of society after the abolition of serfdom in Russia.[4]

In September 1906, the anarcho-syndicalist South Russian Group of Anarcho-Syndicalists (SRGAS) was formed in Odessa by among others Daniil Novomirsky. The SRGAS favored revolutionary unionism over the propaganda of the deed, popular with many other anarchists.[5] For a few years, the group attracted large numbers of members and sympathizers in the large cities of the region, before facing immense police repression. One anarcho-syndicalist branch was established in Tiraspol.[6]

The Jewish anarchist Sholom Schwartzbard, mainly known for his Yiddish-language poetry and for his assassination of Symon Petliura, fought in Ukraine during the Russian Civil War as part of the politically mixed Red Guards (1917–1920). His first campaign was from February to May 1918, serving with a group thrown together from anarchist volunteers in Odessa called "Otriad Rashal", after a young Bolshevik leader who had been killed in Romania a short time before. The unit formed to defend the Ukrainian frontier against Romanian invasion near Tiraspol, but it was soon chased eastward by attacking German and Austrian troops.

Likewise during the Russian Civil War, Lev Zadov and his brother Daniel were members of the Revolutionary Insurrectionary Army of Ukraine of Nestor Makhno, after first having served in the Red Army and anarchist militias. The elder brother Lev soon became the Black Army's chief of military intelligence, and a member of Makhno's inner circle in the Free Territory. In August 1921, after the movement's defeat Zadov organized the escape of some Makhnovist guerilla forces to Romania, where the two brothers were later recruited by Romanian intelligence to enter the USSR as anti-Soviet agents. Upon entering Ukraine they surrendered themselves, becoming agents of the Joint State Political Directorate (OGPU, a predecessor of the KGB) instead. While Lev worked in Odessa, Daniel was active in the city of Tiraspol. Together, they ran an agent network in Romania, using Makhnovists in exile. They served the USSR until 1938, when on 25 September they were convicted of collaboration with foreign secret services after a fifteen-minute trial and executed by firing squad, as part of Joseph Stalin's Great Purge.[7]

Zamfir Arbore (1848–1933) was a prominent Romanian political activist, initially active as an anarchist in the Russian Empire before entering self-exile in Switzerland, joining the International Workingmen's Association, and briefly becoming a disciple of the prominent anarchist theorist Mikhail Bakunin. After returning to Romania in 1877 Arbore abandoned anarchism, becoming a moderate socialist and proponent for the independence of Bessarabia (part of which is now located in Transnistria). His daughter Ecaterina Arbore, a prominent member of the Romanian Communist Party, was executed on charges of Trotskyism in Tiraspol in 1937, as part of the Great Purge.[8]

See also[edit]

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  • Anarchism in Russia
  • Anarchism in Ukraine
  • History of Transnistria


  1. Poberowski, Stepan (November 2003). "Nikolay Vasiliev: The Ripper from Russia". Ripperologist.
  2. "none". Journal de Geneve (in French). Geneve, Switzerland. 2 December 1888.CS1 maint: Unrecognized language (link)
  3. Fox, Richard K (1888). The history of the Whitechapel murders: A full and authentic narrative of the above murders, with sketches. New York City. Search this book on Logo.png
  4. Kropotkin, P. A. (27 May 2014). Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution. Indo-European Publishing. p. 165. ISBN 160-444-476-2. Search this book on Logo.png
  5. Goodwin, James (2010). Confronting Dostoevsky's Demons: Anarchism and the Specter of Bakunin in Twentieth-century Russia. Peter Lang. p. 44. ISBN 143-310-883-6. Search this book on Logo.png
  6. Avrich, Paul (2006). The Russian Anarchists. Stirling: AK Press. ISBN 1-904859-48-8. Search this book on Logo.png
  7. Azarov, Vyacheslav (2009). Kontrrazvedka: The Story of the Makhnovist Intelligence Service. Edmonton: Black Cat Press. ISBN 097-378-272-2. Search this book on Logo.png
  8. Maria Lidia, Martin Veith, "Memoirs of an Anarchist in Romania. Zamfir C. Arbure (Ralli)", in KSL: Bulletin of the Kate Sharpley Library, No. 57, March 2009

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