Статья 'Характеристика экономического потенциала Приднестровского региона Молдавии накануне распада СССР' - журнал 'Genesis: исторические исследования' - NotaBene.ru
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Genesis: Historical research
Reference:

Characteristics of the economic potential of the Transnistrian region of Moldova on the eve of the collapse of the USSR

Kulbidiuk Ruslan Viktorovich

Postgraduate Student of the Department of History of neighboring countries, Faculty of History, Lomonosov Moscow State University

125047, Russia, Moscow, 2nd brestskaya str., 30, office 1

kulbidiuk@mail.ru
Other publications by this author
 

 

DOI:

10.25136/2409-868X.2023.12.39357

EDN:

CAGDHL

Received:

09-12-2022


Published:

31-12-2023


Abstract: The article examines the main characteristics of the economic potential of the Pridnestrovian region of Moldova, and also describes the latest significant events that occurred in the industrial sector of the republic on the eve of the collapse of the USSR. The purpose of the study is to characterize and evaluate the industry of the Pridnestrovian part of the MSSR, in order to form a more complete picture of the economic potential of the republic. The author presents an analysis of the main directions in the development of industry in the region at the final stage of the existence of a single state of the MSSR within the borders of the USSR, and also analyzes the main directions of development. The conducted research allowed us to conclude that the significant growth of Moldovan industry in the 1980s clearly testifies to the fruitfulness of cooperation and mutual assistance within the Soviet Union and the fundamental role of the Union center in the formation of the industry of the Soviet republics. In the course of the study, archival and statistical data confirmed that the rich economic history of Pridnestrovie, together with regional features – favorable economic and geographical location, availability of a sufficient number of highly qualified labor resources, energy saturation - predetermined the accelerated formation of innovative industries in the region, working on imported raw materials and using all the economic potential of the Soviet state available to the republic in within the framework of the sectoral and territorial division of labor adopted in the USSR, as well as industrial and commodity specialization. The industrialization of the MSSR was carried out in an exceptionally short time – in less than a quarter of a century. Together with the steady growth in the quality of products and low cost due to the energy self-sufficiency of the region, goods produced in Pridnestrovie have occupied their niche not only in the All-Union market, but also in the world, and above all in Europe. All this, combined with the ongoing changes in the industrial specialization of the region, made it possible to shift the agrarian nature of production and qualitatively enrich the industry of Soviet Moldova.


Keywords:

Transnistrian region, Moldova, PMR, MSSR, the collapse of the USSR, industry, Transnistria, Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, economica, Soviet Moldavia

This article is automatically translated. You can find original text of the article here.

 

The collapse of the USSR is not only a geopolitical and socio—demographic catastrophe on one sixth of the Earth's land, it is primarily the collapse of a well-established, albeit with some flaws, measured way of life for millions of citizens of the Soviet Union. The economy of the late USSR represented the world's second largest system of social relations in terms of GDP in the field of production, exchange and distribution of products from various sectors of the national economy. The USSR economy accounted for about 20 percent of global industrial production, or according to various sources, more than 2.3 trillion US dollars [1].

By the end of the 1980s, the situation in the USSR was characterized by an increase in significant internal and foreign policy problems and difficulties. A drop in economic growth, a high level of militarization - an arms race, and as a result, the pressure of the military-industrial complex on the national economy, senseless expensive participation in military companies around the world, unlimited monopolization in all spheres of production, autarky and the gap between the level of economic development and the level of personal consumption of citizens, and these are only a small part of the reasons for the deep economic, the political and social crisis in the USSR. Difficult relations with virtually all the most influential countries in the world - the United States, Great Britain, China, Japan, together with the growing internal disintegration processes, marked the beginning of the "parade of sovereignties". Given the number of national-state and national-territorial formations within the USSR [2], the occurrence of conflicts on national or territorial grounds was more predictable than unexpected.  

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, there was an active period of intra-union ethnic and territorial conflicts, as a result of which new subjects of intra—state relations appeared within the borders of the USSR - unrecognized or autonomous republics. The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic became one of these subjects (proclaimed on September 2, 1990) [3]. Having no final domestic or international political and legal status, today Transnistria de facto exists as a separate state.

The industry of the Transnistrian region of Moldova, as an organic part of the unified national economic complex of the USSR, was economically and organizationally connected with the economy of other union and autonomous republics. The socialist industrialization of the region took place in peculiar historical conditions characterized by the decisive role of the union industry in the formation and improvement of the technical base of all sectors and spheres of social production. The largest enterprises in the region, which form the basis of its economic potential, appeared in a centrally planned economy with a focus on the all-Union market and the market of the Eastern Bloc member countries, mainly members of the COMECON. The unified economy of the country, built on the basis of a common national economic complex, organically combining the production capabilities and resources of all the Union republics, closely interconnected by the sectoral and territorial division of labor, allowed the creation of industrial enterprises in the Pridnestrovian region of the MSSR, which had no analogues in the vast USSR.

The regional peculiarities of the Pridnestrovian part of the MSSR – the economic and geographical location, natural and climatic conditions, the limited intra-district mineral resource base, the availability of sufficient labor resources, qualitative changes in the energy sector of the republic, as well as significant accumulated experience in industrial construction predetermined the appearance in the region of a number of industries operating on imported raw materials and using the entire regionally available assortment fuel resources. As a result, in the 80s, the industrial specialization of Soviet Moldova was enriched with qualitatively new features. These are ferrous metallurgy, production of building materials, expansion of the range of products of mechanical engineering and light industry, production of secondary processing of wood products, chemicals, etc.

As a result of the placement of a large group of innovative enterprises in the region, sectoral differentiation and an increase in the level of concentration and specialization, a qualitatively new industrial complex of the republic has been formed on the left bank of the Dniester. A characteristic feature of the Pridnestrovian industry was the intensity, which provided a rapid level of its industrial development in a short time. Outstripping the average annual industrial growth rates of the republic compared with the all-Union and the average for the MSSR, local producers were qualitatively singled out.

The rise and rapid development of the region's economy was also facilitated by the proximity to the largest fuel and metallurgical base of the country (Dnieper-Donbass), as well as the most important scientific, industrial and scientific and technical centers of the region: Kiev, Odessa, Donetsk, Dnepropetrovsk, etc. [4].

Progressive changes in the structure of industry, as well as the placement of dozens of new enterprises in the republic of mechanical engineering, energy, heavy, light and other industries contributed to the transformation of the MSSR into a significant supplier of industrial goods to the all-Union and foreign markets. In the tenth five-year plan alone (1976-1980), 36 new industrial enterprises were built in the MSSR [5]. By the end of the 1980s, 558 industrial and scientific production associations, factories and enterprises operating on an independent balance sheet were already operating in the industry of the Moldavian SSR. These were mainly enterprises of heavy (243) and processing (213) industries [6]. A significant part of the largest, most modern and iconic of them was concentrated on the left bank of the Dniester.

In the late 1980s, Transnistria, whose population was 17 percent republican, produced about 40 percent of the gross national product of the MSSR [7], including 90 percent of electricity, 56 percent of consumer goods, a third of agricultural products [8]. The economy of Transnistria was based on large enterprises such as the Moldavian Metallurgical Plant, the Moldavian (Dniester) GRES, the Kirov plant, the Tiraspol enterprises Eletkromash and Moldavizolit, the Tirotex textile plant, the Kvint cognac plant, the Rybnitsa Cement and Slate plant, etc.

Characterizing the economic potential of the Transnistrian region of Moldova, it is important to recall the origins of the republic's industry and the stages of its organic growth. The industrialization of Moldova was carried out in an exceptionally short time – in less than a quarter of a century. In this regard, the role of the Soviet state and the fraternal Union republics in the creation of the MASSR industry, its accelerated development, and the increase and expansion of the production base of the region as part of the MSSR is of great interest. Many factories and plants were built with the help of specialists from Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, the Urals, the Baltic republics and other regions of the country. In addition to mutual personnel assistance, Moldovan enterprises received machine tools, equipment and mechanisms, raw materials and components from all over the USSR in abundance. The geography of inter-district industrial relations of the MSSR characterized the close economic relations of the republic with other Union republics and economic regions of the country that had developed in the USSR. Their development was based on the use of various forms of cooperation: from a bilateral agreement on mutual supplies to the development of comprehensive cooperation plans in the field of specialization and production cooperation, which made it possible to ensure a high level of production with a significant reduction in social costs.

During the period of rapid economic recovery and development, especially in the post-war years, funds significantly exceeding republican revenues were allocated from the union budget for the development of local industry. During the 60-70s of the XX century, capital investments in the industry of the republic amounted to about 4.0 billion rubles [9, p.6]. This trend actually continued throughout the entire period when the republic was part of the USSR. In the period 1981-1985, about 1.7 billion were invested in industry. euro. in 1986-1990 - 2.7 billion rubles.

The significant growth of Moldovan industry in the 1980s vividly testifies to the fruitfulness of fraternal cooperation and mutual assistance within the Soviet Union and the fundamental role of the Union center in the formation of the industry of the Soviet republics. It is noteworthy that the growth rate of the MSSR industry was more than twice that of the all-Union, as well as the level of development of industrial potential in developed countries of capital [10, p.77]. For example, by 1980, the output of industrial products in Soviet Moldova increased by 25 (!) times compared to the post-war years, with an increase in agricultural production of only 2.8 times [11, p.7]. And in 1985, compared with the pre-war, the level of industrial production exceeded it by 65 times! [10, p. 77].

At the same time, new directions were being allocated from the traditional branches of the MSSR, with active cooperation with the fraternal peoples of the USSR – cement, production of reinforced concrete products, expanded clay, mineral wool, microbiological, starch, essential oil industry, production of citric acid, pectin, etc. [9]

Do not forget about the active participation of the MSSR in the economic, scientific and technical cooperation of the USSR with the countries of the "socialist camp". Being an integral part of a single national economic complex and possessing highly developed economic potential, Soviet Moldova in the 1970s and 1980s made a great contribution to the development of economic relations between the USSR and the fraternal countries of the Eastern Bloc. Together with the export of electricity to socialist Bulgaria and Romania (accounting for a third of the total exports of the MSSR) through the electric mains of the international energy system "Mir", Pridnestrovian goods accounted for the bulk of all exports of the MSSR. If in 1960 the MSSR produced 35 items of industrial products for export to 20 countries, in 1971 – 100 items to 50 countries, then in 1985 – almost 320 items of Moldovan industry products were exported to 67 countries [10, p.81]. In 1976-1980 alone, the total volume of exports from the Moldavian SSR increased by 27 percent compared to the previous five years. By the end of the eleventh five-year plan (1980-1985) in the MSSR, export products were produced at hundreds of enterprises of Union-republican and republican ministries and departments and at 22 enterprises of union subordination [12, p. 40].

The geography of supplies of Moldovan goods has also expanded significantly every year. The economic and scientific and technical potential of the region, combined with the steady increase in the quality of products and low cost as a result of energy self-sufficiency, allowed goods produced in the Transnistrian region of Moldova to occupy their reliable niche not only in the friendly countries of the new democracy, but also on the world, and above all the European market. England, Belgium, Hungary, Spain, Finland, Canada and the USA, India and Pakistan are only an incomplete list of countries to which Soviet foreign trade organizations exported Moldovan goods produced in Transnistria.

The export nomenclature of Soviet foreign trade organizations traditionally included alcoholic beverages produced by Moldovan enterprises, furniture, fur and astrakhan products, walking and sports shoes, carpets and sewing products. By the early 1990s, Moldovan commodity exports covered more than 25 countries, including Bulgaria, the GDR, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Mongolia, countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America [13, pp.181-182.]. Such an active participation of the MSSR in trade relations with foreign partners was primarily facilitated by its profitable the transport and transit situation, as well as well-established production and logistics links with the fraternal republics of the USSR.Taking into account the share of raw materials, equipment, fuel resources supplied by the Union republics of the Moldovan industry and used by it for the production of products intended for export, the absolute interdependence between them is also obvious.

Traditionally, a significant place in the volume of exports of Moldovan enterprises belonged to the food industry. For example, in 1984, it accounted for about 15 percent of export shipments. Tobacco, vegetable oil, essential oils, animal fats, dried fruits, tomato paste, dozens of names of canned fruits and vegetables, cognacs and wines made at the largest industrial enterprises of the food industry in the region - the Tiraspol Cannery named after May 1, the Bendery plant named after M. I. Kalinin, the experimental state farm plant named after. Dzerzhinsky ("Bouquet of Moldavia"), the Tiraspol wine and Cognac factory, the state farm-factory "Purkar", the Kalarash wine factory, the October cannery (Krasnoe village) and others were well known to consumers in importing countries. 3/4 of the volume of grape wines and cognacs exported by the Soviet Union in the 1980s were produced at Moldovan enterprises. And only the Decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR "On strengthening the fight against drunkenness and alcoholism, the eradication of moonshine" dated May 16, 1985 [14], as a result of which 30% of vineyards were destroyed, more than were destroyed during the fighting during World War II, significantly reduced this share, as in categories of all-Union exports, and reducing the overall share of the food industry in the republic's exports.

Analyzing the nomenclature specifics of the Moldovan SSR exports in the 1980s, despite its pronounced agrarian-industrial character and the historically developed specialization of the region, the fundamental role of Pridnestrovian producers in it becomes obvious, since its basis during this period was the electric power industry and mechanical engineering. Relying on their developed production base, the industrial sector of the MSSR was able to increase volumes in a short time and implement qualitative changes in the export structure.

The increase in the export range of products of mechanical engineering and metalworking, instrumentation and other knowledge-intensive industries from 7.6 percent in 1970 to 68.4 percent in 1980 characterizes the general level of the Pridnestrovian industry. These qualitative changes led to an increase in the volume of export production in the MSSR by the early 1980s by almost two times [15, p. 18]. The main exporters were primarily enterprises located on the left bank of the Dniester, such as the Rybnitsa Metallurgical Plant, Tochlitmash named after S.M. Kirov, Eletkromash, Moldavizolit, Moldavian (Dniester) GRES, etc. [16] This export breakthrough of the Transnistrian industry became possible primarily due to significant investments of the union center to the development of the production sector of Soviet Moldova, including Transnistrian producers, allowing quantitative and qualitative improvement of the production base available on the left bank of the Dniester River just before the collapse of the USSR.

Taking into account the volume of commercial products produced in the late 1980s by the industry of Pridnestrovie per year, namely 13.5 million kW of electricity, more than 700 thousand tons of steel and about 600 thousand tons of rolled products, 3.4 thousand large electric machines, 10.4 thousand power transformers, 957 units of technical equipment for foundry production, 185 thousand low-power electric motors and others [17, p.328], a significant amount of it was supplied, including to the internal market of the USSR (mainly the MSSR and the nearest regions of the USSR), including electricity, rolled metal, cement and light industry products. This trend continues to this day, which makes it possible to keep the main producers of the region in a workable and competitive state.

The poles of economic growth in the territory of the MSSR have traditionally been industrial hubs, concentrating enterprises of industry, construction industry, transport, as well as institutions and service enterprises. A feature of the production structure of Soviet Moldova is its industrial specialization.  Thus, the share of seven main nodes accounted for two thirds of the industrial potential of the MSSR, although the number of enterprises located in them did not reach even 25 percent of their total number [18, p.34]. A feature of the production structure of the MSSR was the historically established specialization. The regional peculiarities of Pridnestrovie in the form of economic and geographical location, natural and climatic conditions, possession of a developed energy economy and limited intra-district mineral resource base, with a sufficient number of highly qualified labor resources, predetermined the location in the region of a number of industries operating on imported raw materials. This is primarily electrometallurgy, mechanical engineering, the production of secondary processing of chemical products and wood, etc. For example, in the Tiraspol-Bendery node, mechanical engineering was mainly concentrated, and in Rybnitsko-Rezinsky – the production of building materials and metallurgy.

Such a division by production specialization within a geographically limited territory, on the one hand, had a favorable effect on production volumes and the cost of final products, and on the other hand, the concentration of links in the production chain within the boundaries of an industrial hub led to a commodity-production imbalance and the subsequent commodity deficit and structural interdependence after the collapse of the USSR. 

Due to the large-scale and rapid development of the industrial sector in the Transnistrian region of Moldova in the second half of the 1980s (by the declaration of independence of Transnistria on September 2, 1990), the Transnistrian industrial backbone consisted of almost 130 industrial and scientific production associations, combines and enterprises [17, p.328]. Many enterprises were of all-Union importance and produced unique products, including for export to the countries of the Eastern Bloc, Western Europe and the USA. Some of them were the flagships of the Moldovan industry in the relevant sectors, including such as Moldavian (Dniester) GRES, Rybnitsa Metallurgical and Cement plants, Tiraspol KHBK (cotton mill), Kirov plant, Elektromash, Moldavkabel, Moldavizolit, etc. All of them, thanks primarily to the help of the fraternal republics and budgetary injections of the All-Union center, were equipped with the most modern equipment and staffed with highly qualified personnel from all over the USSR. It was this industrial potential that subsequently allowed Pridnestrovie to demonstrate amazing resilience and set an example for other unrecognized subjects of international politics.

For example, the Moldavian Metallurgical Plant (MMZ), one of three plants built in the USSR in the mid-1980s, is the only ferrous metallurgy enterprise in the MSSR. The plant produced steel and rolled products using metal as raw materials. The raw material base for the plant was the territory of the MSSR and the surrounding areas of the USSR. The construction of the plant was started in August 1981. Highly qualified specialists from the traditional metallurgical regions of the USSR - the Urals and Donbass - were recruited and sent to work. In October 1984, the first steel was obtained. The 320/150 continuous fine-grade wire mill was designed by Ukrgipromez, the equipment manufacturer and installation company is SKET (Magdeburg, East Germany). The design capacity is 500,000 tons/year. The mill reached its design capacity in 1988, and in 1990 production amounted to 540 thousand tons [19].

Or the Tiraspol KHBK (today it is CJSC Tirotex), finally built in 1982. Domestic equipment was initially installed in the workshops of the enterprise. But it did not meet the requirements of international standards. And only after the introduction of modern machines, in 1986 it became possible to produce high-quality fabrics with improved finishes. In 1987, after the company switched to self-financing with subsequent reconstruction, work was carried out on mechanization and automation of manual, heavy and labor-intensive processes, saving fuel and energy resources, increasing labor productivity and product quality. The Department of external relations and the sewing workshop began work. 1988 showed the correctness of the chosen direction. The range of fabrics, which was constantly updated, new colors, high quality products have firmly won the appreciation of consumers in the domestic and foreign markets [20].

An important place among Pridnestrovian manufacturers is occupied by Tochlitmash software in Tiraspol, or better known as the Kirov plant. The oldest enterprise in the region, founded in 1898 in Tiraspol (Kherson province) By Karl Antonovich Pitch as mechanical workshops [21]. Being the main enterprise in the country for the production of foundry technological equipment, it exported its products to more than 40 countries around the world. In 1988, after modernization, the plant mastered the production of new types of consumer goods, as a result of which the Litmash plant became a leading manufacturer and developer of precision casting equipment in the USSR. In 1988-1990, one of the first plants was created on the territory of the plant Joint Ventures (JV) in the history of the USSR (Soviet-Italian Tirpa for the production of shoe molds, then similar Soviet-Italian and Soviet-Brazilian Tabove and Rida). The plant's products have found their application, among other things, on the flagships of Soviet engineering, such as Minsk and Lipetsk Tractor Plants, Rostselmash, Sibselmash, Kurganselmash and many others.  The scale of the geographical distribution of the equipment produced here characterized the unique nature of the enterprise and allowed it to survive despite all the political troubles.

Pridnestrovie actually became a regional industrial center, which gathered on its territory most of the enterprises of the republic, unique for their time in terms of products and technologies. In addition to the MMZ and the Kirov plant, the Tiraspol Trailer Plant (Tiraspol Automobile Refrigerator Plant – Tizar) also gained national and international fame in the machine-building sector. The only enterprise in the USSR that has established the production of refrigerated trucks. Having become a virtual monopolist in the niche of refrigerated trucks in the Soviet commercial vehicle market due to high quality and affordable prices, Soviet consumers remembered him primarily for the ubiquitous yellow barrel trailers, from which kvass was sold in the summer. It was for them that TAPZ produced the simplest single-axle chassis with a lifting capacity of 1.5 tons for several decades in a row. In the 1980s, the plant began to make food semi-trailers-vans and insulated bodies based on the Moskvich IZH-2715 car, developed by Odessa ODAZ [22]. The company's assets include international awards for high quality: the medal "International Gold Star for Quality", received in Madrid, and the "Diamond Star for Quality", awarded in Mexico City [17, p.266].

The Transnistrian region was also distinguished by a high level of electricity production per capita. The basis of Pridnestrovian energy was the Moldavian (Dniester) GRES (Dniester) and Dubossary HPP (Dubossary).

A decisive step in the rise of Moldovan energy and increasing the energy supply of the national economy was carried out with the construction of a powerful and highly efficient thermal power plant in the republic. In 1961, on the border of two economic regions that were insufficiently provided with energy resources – the Moldavian SSR and the Southern Large Economic Region of the Ukrainian SSR – construction of the largest energy facility of interdistrict significance based on the energy resources of nearby areas of the Ukrainian SSR was started in Dniester.      

Moldavian (Kuchurgan, Dniester) state district power Plant is the largest thermal power plant on the Western border of the USSR, located in the city of Dniester, Moldavian SSR, on the shore of the Kuchurgan estuary. It was put into operation on September 26, 1964. The gradual commissioning of the Moldovan GRES units determined a sharp increase in electricity generation in the republic – from 0.7 billion kWh in 1960 to 3.1 in 1965, 7.6 in 1970 and 10.6 billion kWh in 1973 [23].

In 1980 and 1982, the first combined-cycle gas plants in the USSR with a capacity of 250 MW each were put into operation. From 1987 to 1988, four fuel oil units of the Moldavian GRES were converted to gas. The station's capacity is 2,520 MW. The plant has the ability to produce electricity using natural gas, coal and fuel oil. To operate the station, various types of solid, liquid and gaseous fuels in quantities exceeding 98 percent of the total volume were supplied from the RSFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the BSSR. In the 1980s, Donetsk coal was the main fuel. The power plant was connected to the unified energy system of the south, which is part of the Unified Energy System of the European part of the USSR [24].

Dubossary hydroelectric power plant is the firstborn of the great electrification of Moldova on the Dniester River. The general designer is JSC "Ukrhydroproject" (Kharkiv). An international team of thousands of representatives of more than 30 nationalities worked at the construction site. The plants of almost the entire Soviet Union helped the first large-scale energy construction of the DGPP. With the commissioning of Dubossary HPP and 110 kV transmission lines Dubossary-Chisinau and Dubossary-Tiraspol, the creation of the Moldovan energy system and the centralization of the republic's electricity supply began. The year of commissioning of the fully completed hydroelectric facility was 1955 [25].

In terms of electricity production per capita, the Moldovan SSR was more than 2.2 times higher than the global average. As of 1990, the number of kWh produced was 20.3 thousand per capita, with an average consumption of about 6 thousand kWh [17, p.328]. This corresponded to the level of consumption of citizens in such European countries as Italy, Spain, and Greece. At the same time, the consumption of the Pridnestrovian industrial sector significantly exceeded the consumption level of these countries. This, firstly, characterizes the scale of local production and its utilization, and secondly, confirms the system-forming role of the republic's energy sector. By the early 1990s, Transnistria was producing more than 9.5 billion kW.electricity consumption [17, p.258]. As a result, the MSSR accounted for 22.5 percent of Soviet electricity exports [26, p.110].

The early 1980s were the best years of the Soviet nuclear power industry. Soviet Moldova could also contribute to its development. In the 80-90s of the last century, a nuclear power plant could appear on the territory of Transnistria [27]. It was supposed to be created in Grigoriopol district of the Transnistrian region of Moldova, on the banks of the Dniester River.  For this reason, this facility is referred to in some sources as the Moldovan NPP, and in others as Grigoriopol NPP. After the Chernobyl accident in neighboring Ukraine in April 1986, the project was temporarily suspended at the stage of foundation work. And the earthquake in Armenia in 1988 actually "completed" the project.

At the same time, it was planned to build a cascade of dams on the Dniester, turning the Dubossary HPP into a pumped storage station (HPP), like the one that Ukraine is currently trying to create in the upper reaches of the river.

These large-scale plans, if successfully implemented, would potentially turn the Transnistrian region of Soviet Moldova into an energy hub on the Western border of the USSR, combining technologies for the production and distribution of electric energy, with the organic use of both generating capacities (based on solid, liquid and gaseous fuels from the RSFSR, the Ukrainian SSR and the BSSR) and transit opportunities.

Qualitative changes in the energy sector of the republic in the 1980s, namely, increased concentration of production and centralization of distribution of electric and thermal energy, the creation of a unified state system with sufficient energy generating capacities and an extensive network of power transmission lines, led to the intensification of industrial production and the development of new energy-intensive industries in the region [9, p.3]. Due to the presence of huge energy capacities, the task of significantly expanding and deepening the use of electricity in industry, as well as its rational use, was put forward in the foreground in the development of the republic.    

The main beneficiaries of these events were primarily producers of the left-bank part of the republic. In addition, the system-forming role of the republic's energy sector becomes obvious, the main part of which (Moldavian GRES, Dubossarskaya HPP) was located on the left bank of the Dniester. In 1988, out of 17 017 million kilowatt-hours of electricity produced in the MSSR [28 p.220], Pridnestrovian producers accounted for 90 percent of the total volume. It was the energy sector that subsequently became the main driver in maintaining the viability of Pridnestrovian producers. Well, we should not forget about the political influence of this sector of the economy on the stability of Pridnestrovian statehood. The transformation of the Transnistrian region into a land of continuous electrification should undoubtedly be attributed to one of the most important achievements of the Soviet period in the history of the region.

The presence of a huge amount of energy capacity in the region has led to a surge in mechanical engineering and metalworking. It was also predetermined by the requirements of the all-Union division of labor, sectoral differentiation on the scale of the country as a whole, the comprehensive development of the republic's economy, the need for full and rational use of its labor resources, acceleration of scientific and technological progress in the national economy [26, p.110]. As a result, not only the total production volumes increased rapidly, but also the output of the most important types of qualified engineering products. A systematic shift was made from the production of mainly simple tools and repair activities to the production of modern machines, complex technological equipment and devices. The result of this was the accelerated reconstruction and expansion of plants of union subordination, such as Moldavkabel and the biochemical plant in Bendery, Elektromash, Moldavizolit and the Kirov plant in Tiraspol, Vibropribor and Microprovod in Chisinau, etc. [29, p.30].

For example, the Moldavkabel plant, the largest manufacturer of cable and wire products in Soviet Moldova, was founded in 1958 on the basis of the Ukrmetdrevprom mechanical plant in Bendery. Fraternal peoples of the USSR traditionally took part in its construction.  Drawing machines were received from Alma-Ata, twisting machines from Penza, enamel units arrived from Saratov, and syringe presses from Kiev. The plant specialized in the production of enameled and winding wires, the share of which in the total output was 70 percent. In the USSR, more than 80 percent of aluminum enameled wires were manufactured at the Moldavkabel plant [30].

Due to the outpacing pace of development within mechanical engineering and metalworking in the Moldovan industry, qualitative changes in the sectoral structure began to occur towards an increase in the share of the electrical and instrument-making industries, tractor and agricultural machinery, chemical and glass industries. The production of mechanical engineering and metalworking products, which has received a powerful base, has increased by almost 2,300 times compared to 1940. At the same time, the share of heavy industry in the structure of industrial production increased from 21 percent in 1960 to 34 percent in 1980.

The technical progress in the industry of the MSSR is also evidenced by the fact that by the end of 1981 there were about 3.9 thousand mechanized production and automated lines, more than 650 pieces of equipment with software control, 1,153 complex mechanized workshops, sites and individual productions [31, pp.37-38].

The active industrial construction in Moldova, combined with the logically irreversible migration influx of highly qualified personnel to new industries, gave impetus to the rapid development of the production of building materials and related industries, including industrial and civil engineering. The development of the industry was also facilitated by the availability of significant reserves of natural building materials, such as rubble stone, gravel, construction sand, sand-gravel mixture, etc., as well as traditionally high domestic demand for industrial building materials [32, p.103].

The industrial production of expanded clay was established at the enterprises of the industry, such progressive materials as foam concrete, aerated concrete (Tiraspol and Novo-Andriyashevsky brick factories), linoleum, mineral wool and products made from it (Bendery plant of thermal insulation materials), silicacite products, aglopyrite (Dniester plant of ash-agloporite gravel) and other new types were mastered and introduced into production building materials [17],[29],[32, p.104]. The products were supplied both to the republic and to other regions of the country, exported abroad (mainly products of the Rybnitsa cement and slate plant). At the same time, the development of new construction technologies has significantly slowed down the traditional production of bricks and wall blocks from natural stone in the region. Fundamental changes in the construction business occurred after the resolution of the Central Committee of the CPSU and the Council of Ministers of the USSR on the introduction of precast concrete into construction, which expanded the directive of the XXIII Party Congress on the transformation of construction production into an integrated mechanized process of installation of buildings and structures from standardized factory-made elements. As a result, the volume of production of large wall blocks, reinforced concrete panels, parts and elements was increased (Bendery, Dubossary, Rybnitsky and Tiraspol plants of reinforced concrete products, Tiraspol plant of large-panel housing construction) [32, p.104],[33]. For example, in the early 1980s, 7.5 times more prefabricated concrete structures were produced than in the 1960s [17, p.273].

In the early 1980s, the Rybnitsa Cement Plant, built in 1961, was reconstructed, which allowed to increase the production of clinker to 948 thousand tons, and cement to 1240 thousand tons per year [17]. This gave an impetus to the expansion of the production of reinforced concrete products factories in Balti and Varnita [29, p.31], as well as the Chisinau large-panel housing construction plant. The presence of such a large and system-forming enterprise for the construction industry allowed Pridnestrovie to preserve the construction industry despite the complete devastation in the state construction sector in recent years before the end of the USSR.

The widespread capital construction has led to an organic growth in the MSSR of workers in the construction industry – engineers, technicians, skilled workers of mass professions. One of the largest construction organizations in the region was the Tiraspol Interdistrict Construction Trust. The experience gained over the years, professional staff and extensive material and technical base, combined with a well-established scheme for the supply of construction materials, allowed Tiraspol builders to regularly perform at least 1/3 of the volume of work of enterprises of the Ministry of Construction of the MSSR. The portfolio of the Tiraspol Trust included both industrial state-owned enterprises and residential buildings, buildings and structures for social and cultural purposes, infrastructure facilities [17]. The growth rate of construction and installation works in the republic exceeded the average union-wide indicators, which eventually affected the appearance of cities and villages in the region, despite the general backwardness of most of the region (Bessarabia) before the reunification of the two banks of the Dniester, as well as significant destruction sustained during the Second World War.

During the intensive housing construction in the USSR, in each republic, especially after the development of the production of precast reinforced concrete and concrete structures and parts, city-forming enterprises, using their extra-budgetary funds, launched on a larger scale than before, the construction of housing for their employees. Entire residential neighborhoods have appeared (the Metallurg microdistrict in Rybnitsa), provided, among other things, with social facilities, which have no analogues today both in the republic and in neighboring regions.

The development of new industries in the region has led to a significant increase in the number of people employed in the industrial sector. "An industrial enterprise in the conditions of the Soviet system, like a community in a village at one time, was perceived not only as a place where material values were produced, but also as a center of people's life" [34]. This tradition was introduced to the city, to work collectives, during the industrialization of the country, when thousands of rural residents came to industry, who were released from the field of agricultural production during collectivization and, by and large, were organized to numerous construction sites and functioning industrial facilities.

In the 1970s, there was a major qualitative shift in the class structure of the population of the MSSR: the share of workers (with their dependents) exceeded half of the total population of the republic, and the working class made up the majority of the employed population [35]. According to the 1979 Census, workers in the industrial sector account for 52.6 of the population and 53.7 percent of all those employed in the national economy of the MSSR [35, p.59].

So by the beginning of the 1980s, in the historically agrarian-oriented republic, the number of people employed in industry, in comparison with 1960, tripled (!) and amounted in absolute terms to 369.8 thousand people [9, p.4]. In 1988, 404.2 thousand people were already employed in the industry of the MSSR, or 26 percent of the working population [36 p.199]. These are quite high indicators for a republic like the MSSR, where there was practically no operating industry after the end of the Second World War. On average, the share of industrial and production personnel in the entire population in the USSR was 13.6 percent [9, p.4]. As noted at the XV Congress of the Communist Party of Moldova, "a powerful industrial and production complex was created in the republic, a large army of qualified engineering, technical and working personnel grew" [37].

Another indicator of the industrial growth of the republic was the urbanization of its territory, and the subsequent growth of the urban population. The share of the urban population as a whole in the MSSR increased from 13 percent in the post-war years to 33 percent by the 1980s. The number of urban-type cities and towns has increased, primarily due to the construction or reconstruction of large industrial facilities, such as the Moldavian Metallurgical Plant, TPHBO (Tiraspol Cotton Production Association), Moldavian (Dniester) GRES, Rezinsky Cement Plant, etc.  

It should also be noted that the republic had the highest population density in the USSR, which was 200 people per 1 sq.km [17, p.327]. This is comparable to the indicators of many densely populated countries of the world. The high population density caused the availability of labor resources. There are cadres of machine builders, power engineers, metallurgists, garment workers, canners, etc. 

Unlike most Soviet republics, the MSSR had another undoubted source of advanced development in the form of the special attitude of one of the most odious Soviet leaders, L. I. Brezhnev. His contribution to the development of the Moldovan economy and social sphere is unprecedented to this day. The attention that the Secretary General paid to Soviet Moldova led to the fact that the standard of living here was slightly higher than in other Union republics. In the 1970s and 1980s, the republic received significant investments from the USSR budget for the development of industrial, scientific facilities, as well as housing, which, despite Brezhnev's departure, did not stop. Large-scale financing stopped only in 1991 with the collapse of the Soviet Union, when Moldova became independent.

The Moldavian SSR as a union republic has existed for almost half a century. Despite the successes of the Moldavian SSR in socio-economic development achieved in the fraternal family of the Soviet peoples, in the late 1980s, as a result of the glasnost policy announced at the XXVII Congress of the CPSU in February 1986, and the coming to power of the Popular Front, the process of the actual destruction of the MSSR began. "The death of this form of statehood of the Moldovan people and its disintegration are closely related to the transition in the late 1980s of the local national party nomenklatura elites of the Union republics to the positions of aggressive nationalism, Russophobia and anti-communism" [38, p. 112]. The course towards Romanization taken by the local Popular Front, combined with outright Russophobia, actually led to the instant division of the region and the emergence of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. The process of Moldova's separation from the USSR was quite painful. After the collapse of the USSR, the optimal activity of most enterprises was disrupted by the complication of export-import exchange conditions. Some industries have stopped altogether.

Thus, the significant advance in industrial growth rates in the 40-70s of the XX century, the accelerated development of a number of new branches of specialization in the early 1980s, the accelerated development of labor-intensive industries and diversity in the mid-1980s created a powerful base for the confident passage of Transnistria's subsequent transformation of the country in the 1990s.

As a result of the intensive financial assistance received from the Union center, the successful industrialization of the region made it possible in the last Soviet decade to strengthen the industrial sector on the left bank of the Dniester, and ensure the relative independence of the main elements of the economy from the republican center.

The saturation of unique enterprises, which had no analogues in the vast USSR, the well-established production of export-oriented goods, well-established foreign economic relations based on fraternal cooperation and mutual assistance within the Soviet Union, combined with the high energy supply of the region, is the base that has preserved the region today.

 

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The era of Perestroika led not only to drastic changes in the socio-economic and socio-political life of Soviet society, but also, ultimately, to the collapse of the Soviet Union, which, according to the President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin, became the largest geopolitical catastrophe of the XX century. It should be noted that it took only a few years to show the non-viability of the concept of the "Soviet people": this was clearly demonstrated by the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts, Nagorno-Karabakh, Transnistria. The situation in Transnistria looks different: this region did not previously enjoy autonomy within the Moldavian SSR, but proved its right to exist as an independent actor, although not recognized. In this regard, the study of the historical path of the Transnistrian region in the second half of the XX century is relevant. These circumstances determine the relevance of the article submitted for review, the subject of which is the economic potential of Transnistria on the eve of the collapse of the USSR. The author aims to show the regional peculiarities of the Pridnestrovian part of the MSSR, analyze the origins and development of the industrial potential of Pridnestrovie, determine the role of urbanization in the formation of the region. The work is based on the principles of analysis and synthesis, reliability, objectivity, the methodological basis of the research is a systematic approach, which is based on the consideration of the object as an integral complex of interrelated elements. The scientific novelty of the article lies in the very formulation of the topic: the author seeks to characterize the features of the economic development of Transnistria in the period preceding the collapse of the USSR. Considering the bibliographic list of the article as a positive point, its scale and versatility should be noted: in total, the list of references includes over 30 different sources and studies. From the sources attracted by the author, we will primarily point to statistical collections, as well as materials from Internet resources. Among the studies used, we note the works of L.K. Borzunova, L.N. Lazareva, V.I. Tsaranov, which focus on various aspects of the development of Moldova in the second half of the XX century. As a comment, we point out that the author uses Wikipedia as a source, not all of whose materials are scientifically reliable. At the same time, the use of various sources and research to a certain extent contributed to the solution of the tasks facing the author. The style of writing the article can be attributed to a scientific one, at the same time understandable not only to specialists, but also to a wide readership, to anyone interested in both the history of the Moldavian SSR and Transnistria, in particular. The appeal to the opponents is presented at the level of the collected information received by the author during the work on the topic of the article. The structure of the work is characterized by a certain logic and consistency, it can be distinguished by an introduction, the main part, and conclusion. At the beginning, the author defines the relevance of the topic, shows that "the unified economy of the country, built on the basis of a common national economic complex, organically combining the production capabilities and resources of all the Union republics, closely interconnected by sectoral and territorial division of labor, allowed the creation of industrial enterprises in the Pridnestrovian region of the MSSR, which had no analogues in the vast USSR." The figures cited by the author are very indicative: "at the end of the 1980s, Transnistria, whose population was 17 percent republican, produced about 40 percent of the gross national product of the MSSR, including 90 percent of electricity, 56 percent of consumer goods, a third of agricultural products." Based on the data provided, the author points out that "Pridnestrovie has actually become a regional industrial center, which has gathered on its territory most of the republic's enterprises, unique for their time in terms of products and technologies." The main conclusion of the article is that "a significant advance in the growth rates of industry in the 40-70s of the XX century, the accelerated development of a number of new branches of specialization in the early 1980s, the accelerated development of labor-intensive industries and diversity in the mid-1980s created a powerful base for the confident passage of Transnistria in the 1990s transformation of the country". The article submitted for review is devoted to an urgent topic, will arouse readers' interest, and its materials can be used both in lecture courses on the history of Russia and in various special courses. At the same time, there are comments on the article: 1. The text should be subtracted, eliminating some stylistic flaws. So, the author's text reads: "Or the Tiraspol KHBK (today it is CJSC Tirotex), finally built in 1982. Domestic equipment was initially installed in the workshops of the enterprise." 2. The bibliography of the article should be brought into line with the requirements of the publisher. 3. It is advisable to replace the data from Wikipedia with other sources. After correcting these comments, the article may be recommended for publication in the journal Genesis: Historical Research.
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