The Soviet deportations from Bessarabia were part of Joseph Stalin's policy of political repression. The deported were typically moved to so-called “special settlements” (спецпоселения).
1941:On June 12–13, 1941, 29,839 members of families of “counter-revolutionaries and nationalists” from the Moldavian SSR, and from the Chernivtsi and Izmail oblasts of the Ukrainian SSR were deported to Kazakhstan, the Komi ASSR, the Krasnoyarsk Krai, and the Omskand Novosibirsk oblasts. For the fate of such a deportee from Bessarabia, see the example of Eufrosinia Kersnovskaya. The Georgian NKVD official Sergo Goglidze, trusted henchman of Lavrenty Beria, was in charge of this deportation from Bessarabia.
1942:On June 22, 1941, Nazi Germany, together with several other countries, including Romania, attacked the Soviet Union (see Operation Barbarossa). After the start of the war, further mass deportations occurred in the USSR. In April 1942, Romanians and some other nationalities were deported from Crimea and the North Caucasus. In June 1942, Romanians and others were deported from Krasnodar Krai and the Rostov Oblast.
1949:On July 6, 1949, 35,796 people from the Moldavian SSR were detained and deported on similar grounds to those in 1941.
1951:On February 19, 1951, Abakumov delivered to Stalin a secret notice which listed the planned numbers of deported “Jehovists” from Ukraine, Belorussia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Moldova, with 1675 persons (670 families) listed for the latter. On March 3, the USSR Council of Ministers issued the corresponding decree, followed by an order of the Ministry of State Security of February 6. On March 24, the Council of Ministers of the Moldavian SSR issued the decree on the confiscation and selling of the property of the deportees. Operation North started at 4:00 am on April 1, 1951, and the round-ups continued until April 2. The deportees were classified as “special settlers”. In total, from the Moldvian SSR, there were 723 families (2,617 persons) deported on the night of March 31 to April 1, 1951, all members of neoprotestant sects, mostly Jehovah’s Witnesses, and qualified as religious elements considered a potential danger for the Communist regime.
"Transnistria for me was more of a personal project. I was born in that place and attended school there. As many places, Transnistria was under pro-russian propaganda. I wanted to document this region traveling not to just a few villages and the capital, Tiraspol, as other photographers did. For me, it’s more than just an impact on an exotic place, but my past and experience I have gone through. My thinking changed since attending the Human Rights & Photography Fellowship. Classes with Susan Meiselas and Fred Ritchin helped me to develop my visual storytelling skills, pushed me to use photography not only as a showing tool, but as an analyzing tool.
And now i see Transnistria as a more complex project with multiple stories that will remain in history as imagery of a country which will probably disappear soon. Immediately after returning home, I’ve re-edited all existing photos in color and scheduled the route with all the places that I should visit and where I can find stories. I want to share with local communities on both banks of the Dniester river about how is it to live in this forgotten country with no perspectives for future generations.”
-Ramin Mazur, Moldova, 2013 Human Rights Fellow
Applications for the 2014 Human Rights & Photography Fellowship are due December 9th. Click here to apply!