Darmon Richter knew he was in trouble.
“Some of my well-meaning trespassing earned me an official warning” Richter, an urban explorer, told Business Insider. “It seems some ‘abandoned’ military tunnels I had discovered were actually being put to covert use by the Bulgarian government, and I may have got close to seeing things I wasn’t meant to see.”
With a scare and a promise to stick to “bizarre travel” rather than urban exploration, Richter set off for the nonexistent country of Transnistria.
Situated between Ukraine and Moldova, Transnistria is not officially recognised as a country. They have armed men, uniformed police who demand bribes, and a parliamant, but all their exports go through Moldovan authority.
While the Soviet Union forgot about Transnistria, judging by the strange (and strangely beautiful monuments) Transnistria certainly hasn’t forgotten about the Soviet Union.
Between the war memorials in the 'Park of Peace,' an eternal flame burns for unknown soldiers fallen in battle.
The monuments here symbolise the efforts of Transnistrian soldiers in WWI, WWII, and the 1990 War of Transnistria.
Many monuments in Transnistria incorporate decommissioned war machines -- such as this MiG in a suburb of Tiraspol.
Tiraspol sits on the bank of the River Dniester. Beyond a pedestrian bridge are the city's popular beaches and bathing spots.
Many of the buildings lining the streets of Tiraspol were built in striking socialist-realist -- or 'Stalinist' -- styles.
Sheriff FC Stadium -- home to Tiraspol's football team, and a symbol of the wealth of Transnistria's elite.
Amongst the most popular fashions in Tiraspol are clothes and accessories branded with British or US flags -- a strange contrast against the city's countless communist emblems.
In Tiraspol it's hard to escape the gaze of Lenin, with busts and statues appearing outside many important buildings.
In the centre of Tiraspol, Russian orthodox churches sit shoulder to shoulder with tanks and war memorials.
In classic orthodox style, Tiraspol's churches and chapels are adorned with beautiful gold domes and colourful icons.
As is the tradition in many former-USSR nations, here sweethearts proclaim their love by attaching locks and ribbons to a bridge.
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