Transnistria ‘under blockade’: an analysis of local media

A quantitative analysis of the main local news agency and TV station, including visual evidence of about 2 000 mentions of ‘blockade’ on Transnistria’s TV.

Giorgio Comai


June 5, 2024

References to “blockade” on Transnistria’s main news agency

Based on an analysis of 154 645 news items published by Transnistria’s main news agency ( between August 1999 and 30 May 2024, it immediately appears how references to “blockade” have featured quite frequently in local news reporting, with mentions peaking in 2006, during the major crisis that followed the introduction of new customs regulation.

Given how much the number and scope of publications on NovostiPMR has changed through the years, both absolute and relative word frequency graphs do not fully reflect the underlying trends (the number of publications was much smaller in the early years, but there was also more focus on political news).

Yet, by focusing on the last decade when the volume and type of publications was somewhat more stable, and switching from yearly totals to moving averages, it is easier to discern moments in time when references to “blockade” have become more frequent. A first attempt shows some trends, but also a remarkably constant feature: a higher number of mentions in late January every year is mostly associated with the commemoration of the siege of Leningrad, which ended on 27 January 1944.

If we remove all articles that include mentions of “Leningrad”, even if this will probably remove also some pieces related to current affairs, we get a more revealing picture:

In this timeframe, we see some relatively tranquil periods, with fewer references to “Blockade’, in particular 2019. But moments of tension are well reflected and easily recognisable:

  • March 2014: after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, Ukraine closes its border with Transnistria to males with Russian citizenship
  • June 2015: Ukraine canceled the agreement that allowed Russia to supply its troops stationed in Transnistria
  • late 2015: a new agreement between Moldova and Ukraine on joint control of border crossings was signed; besides, the news agency posted a number of statements and opinion pieces that highlighting the difficulty of the situation and the role that Russia could/should play (perhaps, trying to get more active Russian involvement)
  • relative quiet until the summer of 2017, when the deal on joint Moldo-Ukraining border control actually comes to fruition
  • then again fewer references to “blockade”, until a brief increase related to Covid in early 2020, and a more consistent increase in mentions in late 2021, when they are mostly related to the so-called “bank” blockade related to difficulties in registering bank accounts of Transnistria-based companies
  • then, after the beginning of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, frequency of mentions onece again increase, in relation to new limitations to border crossings toward Ukraine
  • finally, in early 2024, a new peak of references to “blockade” related to the unexpected introduction of new custom duties

These are mostly references are to “economic blockade”, but looking at co-occurrences of selected keywords in the same sentence as “blockade” it appears that other types of “blockade” appear quite frequently:

type n
economic 2235
political 481
informational 404
leningrad 390
customs 316
transport 196
bank 161
diplomatic 128
military 127
financial 126
train 95
medicines 34
legal 31

It may also be worth noticing how some of the blockade-related concerns changed through the years: for example, the issue of “informational blockade” is much less of a concern in recent years, while, on the contrary, the issue of “bank blockade” has effectively emerged only in recent years.

All references to “blockade” on

Here are all references to “blockade” on, in context: