This Unofficial Country Never Got The Memo That The Soviet Union Collapsed [PHOTOS]

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.

On the road to Tiraspol, an Orthodox cross stands in contrast to communist motifs.

One of the main administrative buildings in Tiraspol, presided over by a statue of Lenin.

Lenin looks down on the Transnistrian capital.

Soldiers on parade during the Independence Day celebrations.

Transnistrians queue to leave flowers beside a war memorial.

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.

Flowers are left on the monuments to celebrate a decade of peace in Transnistria.

One of numerous decommissioned tanks that now decorate the streets of Tiraspol.

'October 25th' Street, the main strip running through the centre of the capital.

Many monuments in Transnistria incorporate decommissioned war machines -- such as this MiG in a suburb of Tiraspol.

A storm brews over Tiraspol.

Tiraspol sits on the bank of the River Dniester. Beyond a pedestrian bridge are the city's popular beaches and bathing spots.

Detail of Cyrillic shop signs in a Transnistrian village.

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.

The entrance to Tiraspol's peaceful 'Pobeda Park.'

Children sketch in the park during an outdoors art class.

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 the centre of the capital stands Dom Soviet (House of the Soviets).

In Tiraspol it's hard to escape the gaze of Lenin, with busts and statues appearing outside many important buildings.

More of Tiraspol's high-rise Socialist architecture.

A local hero is celebrated with a vast statue of a soldier on horseback.

The green and red flag of Transnistria flies in the sunset.

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.

The sun sets over the Park of Peace in Tiraspol.

As is the tradition in many former-USSR nations, here sweethearts proclaim their love by attaching locks and ribbons to a bridge.

The colourful skies of Transnistria reflected in the slow-moving water of the River Dniester.

Now that you've seen Transnistria ...

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Check out Richter's full report on the 'country' >

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