Trafficking Arms On Europe’s Doorstep looks at a “country” which has one of Europe’s biggest military stockpiles but has escaped any meaningful international regulation since its creation in 1990. According to this French documentary Transnistria continues to arm rebels in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Caucasas and Iraq.
Transnistria, a breakaway entity from former Soviet state of Moldova, is still run by a repressive and corrupt neo-Communist regime. The Russian army is still present here and guarantees the security of the state, which has no international recognition. Transnistria’s President Smirnov, an ex-KGB agent, is barred from visiting Europe because of his illegal land grab of part of Moldova when he came to power.
Another inheritance from the Cold War era is a huge arms stockpile located in Colbasna where ammunition and arms from the former Soviet countries especially East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, are stored. An estimated 22,000 tons of munitions remain following a transfer of 20,000 tons of arms to Russia from the site in 2001. The Colbasna depot is still dangerously overstocked and unregulated. In violation of international treaties Transnistria refuses to allow inspections by any appropriate international agencies.
The program investigates the arms trafficking that takes place as a consequence, including the smuggling of anti-aircraft missiles and radioactive bombs. The program accompanies Brian Johnson Thomas, an arms trafficking specialist who arranges the purchase of three radioactive bombs from a Transnistrian dealer. He plans to pay to view the bombs then withdraw from the deal – a proposed $US 5,000,000 for three radioactive bombs. Johnson Thomas is forced to withdraw from the deal before he views the bomb but the program later locates the businessman he was dealing with. As identified by Johnson Thomas he is Dimitri Sion, a member of the Transnistrian secret service and sought by Moldovian police for several murders.
Bizarrely the filmmakers track Sion down to a youth group which he leads and which advocates the union of Transnistria with Russia. They also uncover what appear to be official government documents authorising the sale of 38 rockets with radioactive isotopes.
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