Man, now that’s the sort of spam I like to get.
Unsolicited email that made it past filters on both my server and client:
Subject: Red Terror Comes to Europe!!!
To: one of my many addresses
Communism comes back to Europe !!!
The police ersecute the opposition!
Human right activists are arrestedin Europe!
The state with a red dictatorship will accede to EC!
Moldavian elections have already been falsified!!
Now, that’s my kind of spam – spam promoting an underground journalism site from a country I’m fascinated by. Moldova2005.net turns out to be a sophisticated, tri-lingual (Romanian, Russian, English) site run by “independent journalists” who claim not to be supporters of any of the parties or candidates in the upcoming Moldovan election.
Don’t know anything about Moldova? With parliamentary elections taking place on March 6th, it’s a great time to learn more. Moldova was part of Romania until 1940, when it became part of the Soviet Union. Roughly two thirds of Moldovans are of Romanian descent, and the Moldovan language is very similar to Romanian. The country is extremely poor by European standards, has huge external debt and has two regions that have ambitions to secede: Trans-Dneister, which has a large Russian and Ukranian population and has talked about rejoining Russia, and Gagauz, populated mostly by a Turkish-speaking minority.
Trans-Dneister is an especially interesting conflict. In 1989, when the Moldovan government declared Moldovan the national language and began talking about possible reunification with Romania, a group of Slavs in the region east of the Dneister river declared their own “Soviet Republic”. This led to a civil war in 1992, which left 1500 dead, and Trans-Dneister effectively outside of Moldovan government control.
Interested yet? No? Well, here’s an interesting factoid: the Transdneistrans most likely have a cache of Soviet missles and nuclear warheads, and may have been offering them for sale as dirty bombs to international terrorist organizations. Australian political scientist Jovan Franke writes:
Despite being cloaked in a Soviet-era apparatus reminiscent of the period before Mikhail Gorbachev’s reforms, Transdniester is basically a mafia-run criminal state under the autocratic leadership of its venal “President” Igor Smirnov… Transdniester has become a haven for organized crime with involvement in money-laundering, drug and people trafficking, as well as weapons manufacturing and smuggling. For example, the steel plant at Ribnitsa produces a wide array of weapons including small arms, Grad and Duga multiple-rocket launchers, antitank mines, and rocket-propelled grenades. These weapons have been supplied to foreign buyers throughout Eurasia, with rocket launchers assembled at the plant known to have been used by insurgents during the 1993 conflict in Georgia’s breakaway province of Abkhazia.”
Moldova’s upcoming parliamentary elections are being watched closely, in part because parliament will elect Moldova’s president later this year. While current President Vladimir Voronin has had few successes as a leader, the communists are expected to dominate the parliamentary election. Still, the Christian Democratic Popular Party, one of the two major opposition parties, has chosen orange as its official color, and is promising Ukraine-style street protests if the elections are as crooked as many observers predict they will be. And Moscow is evidently worried that Georgia, Ukraine and Moldova might come together as an “axis” of countries opposed to Russian influence in Eastern Europe.
While I’m sure American news networks will be pre-empting coverage of the Michael Jackson trial to keep you up to date on the Moldovan parliamentary elections, you may also want to keep your eyes on Transitions Online, a Czech online publication with excellent news coverage of Moldova (unfortunately, most of the best content is behind a for-pay firewall), or the Basa news agency, which has Moldova headlines in English.
As is becoming my refrain lately, please let me know if anyone is blogging from Moldova. And thanks, spammer, for getting me to think about Moldova for the first time since reading “Playing the Moldovans at Tennis”.
update: The Guardian has an excellent briefing on the Moldovan elections, including the information that former Clinton advisor Dick Morris is advising the CDPP…