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    Posted May 10, 2013 by
    Tiraspol, Moldova
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Photo essays: Your stories in pictures

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    Two days in a country that doesn't exist


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     btvox visited the nearly nonexistent country, Transnistria, where he photographed these images in February 2013. He decided to explore the region because of the very limited information surrounding the country's existence. 'I was particularly drawn to Transnistria because I lived 22 years without knowing it existed,' he says. 'Upon learning of its bizarre socio-political circumstance, I felt I needed to go.' His fifth image was featured as CNN's Travel Photo of the Day for August 27, 2013. Please note that CNN cannot independently verify the specific events described in this post.
    - Jamescia, CNN iReport producer

    Transnistria in English, Pridnestrovia in Russian, this poverty-stricken strip of disputed land struggles for international recognition. Legally in Moldova, but guarded by Russian peacekeeping soldiers to enforce a ceasefire against Moldova, Transnistria is a mysterious gem in Eastern Europe.


    It has it's own currency, which is not recognized by any country in the world. Soviet symbols are ubiquitous. Since I stayed more than 24 hours, I had to check in at a police station to get my papers stamped again. Rather than asking how long I'd be staying, the official at the office barked "When will you leave our country?!"


    Almost everyone I tried to speak to was baffled to encountered a foreigner.


    Police and military wear emblems with the hammer and sickle over a red star. I never tried to photograph them, as suspicion runs deep. One police officer tried to detain me in a park, on account of my camera and inability to speak Russian. I played it off as a dumb tourist, smiled a lot, thanked him way too much for his "help," and walked away.


    Approaching the vigilante "border" on the bus ride in, a man who spoke English told me that a lot of people are suspicious of foreigners because they fear they could be spies helping Moldova "take over" the region.


    These photos are from 23 and 24 February.

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