The history of the Bendery tragedy goes back to the period of the collapse of the Soviet Union. Then, in a number of Soviet republics, nationalist forces, which advocated secession from the Soviet Union, were activated under anti-communist and Russophobic slogans. At the same time, the Allied authorities in fact turned a blind eye to the activities of nationalist groups, and if they intervened in conflict situations, they did so extremely ill-conceivedly. Pro-Romanian nationalists became active in Moldova, who supported the recognition of the identity of the Moldovan and Romanian languages, the translation of the Moldavian language into Latin script, the proclamation of the Moldovan language as the state language of the republic. A large political organization of Moldovan nationalists was formed - the Popular Front of Moldova, which was supported by the republican leadership. In turn, the communists and internationalists of the republic formed an interdvizhenie, opposing the nationalist hysteria.
It should be borne in mind that Moldova was not a mono-national republic - numerous Russian and Ukrainian people lived in Transnistria, Gagauzians lived in Gagauzia. In both regions, Moldavian nationalism met with harsh rejection, since the inhabitants were well aware of what would follow the satisfaction of the demands of the Moldovan nationalists. The further aggravation of the conflict between the Moldavian nationalists, who by 1989 dominated the republic’s leadership, and the inhabitants of Transdniestria and Gagauzia, was caused by the adoption of the draft law “On the functioning of languages in the Moldavian SSR” in March 1989. Provision was made to recognize the Moldovan language as the state language of the republic, depriving parents of the right to choose the language of instruction of children, administrative responsibility for using a language other than the state language, in official documentation and official communication. Naturally, this bill actually turned all the rest of the population of Moldova, except Moldovans, into people of the “second grade”, since it deprived them of the possibility of occupying managerial positions and discriminated when educating the younger generation.
The situation worsened after the coup of the State Emergency Committee in August 1991. On August 25, a Declaration of independence of the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic was adopted in Tiraspol, and on August 27 Moldova proclaimed its independence. By this time, own armed formations were already operating in Moldova - the police, detachments of the special purpose police, the so-called. "Carabinieri". In turn, militia groups were formed in Transnistria. To support Transnistrian militia, volunteers from Russia began to arrive, primarily Cossacks. In March, 1992 began an armed conflict in Transnistria. The events in Bender became one of its bloodiest and most tragic pages.
The city of Bender is located in 10 km. west of Tiraspol, on the other side of the Dniester River. Bender is connected with the rest of Transnistria by road and railway bridges across the Dniester, as well as a bypass road through Mereneshty and Chitcani. Bender is a large economic center and the second most populous city of Transnistria. In the spring of 1992, Bender was 90% controlled by Transnistrian forces and 19% controlled by the Moldovan police and Moldovan nationalists. Therefore, in the city at the same time operated the departments of the Transnistrian police and Moldovan police. It is clear that within the framework of the conflict in Transnistria, the city was of strategic importance for both parties. The Moldovan authorities sought to seize Bender, turning it into a springboard for further actions against Transnistria. The seizure of Bender was planned for 15-16 in June 1992.
The formal reason for the introduction of the Moldovan armed formations in Bendery was a shootout at the city's printing house, located next to the Moldovan police station. Police officers surrounded the car carrying the circulation of the newspaper “For Transnistria” and detained the driver and major Igor Yermakov, who was transporting the newspapers, who were in it. To the aid of the major arrived Transdniestrian guardsmen, at whom Moldovan policemen opened fire. The sound of the shots to the building of the Moldovan police fighters went Territorial consolidated detachment. The head of the Moldovan police department, Bender Victor Guslyakov, called the authorities in Chisinau and requested immediate assistance. In response, Moldovan Interior Minister Konstantin Antoch ordered the deployment of Moldovan Interior Ministry troops into the city, and Defense Minister Ion Costas, the troops of the Moldovan army. For the operation to take Bender, the 1, 3, and 4 infantry battalions and the police brigade were detached. Towards the city, columns of armored vehicles of the army and the police headed. Take the city was planned in two groups. The first, under the command of Colonel A. Gamurari and including the police brigade, was to enter Bender from the south and make its way into the city center. The second, commanded by Colonel L. Karasev, a former Russian officer who had gone over to Moldova, included a brigade of the Moldovan army. Karasev’s group was tasked with entering the city from the north and blocking the bridge between Bendery and the village of Parcani.
Moldovan armored vehicles overcame barriers built in March-May by Transdniestrian militiamen and locals. At the same time, around 21.00, Moldovan nationalists and an OPON police brigade broke into the city, breaking the resistance of the militia as a result of a two-hour battle. City Executive Committee Bender ordered the mobilization of militias and volunteers. The fighting took place near the buildings of the city executive committee and the printing house. The whole evening reinforcements were sent to the city, and only ten Cossacks arrived from the Transdniestrian Republic. Moldovan troops, in turn, arrived with a column of armored vehicles. Two battalions formed by Bulgarians from the village of Parcani came to the rescue of the militia.
Such a small number of Transnistrian forces in the city was explained by the fact that Tiraspol, following the agreements on the peaceful settlement of the conflict, brought all the Transnistrian armed forces out of the city beyond the Dniester, except for the police and the territorial-rescue units. In particular, the Bender Guard was relocated to the village of Parcani. Only the 2-th Bendery battalion under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Kostenko refused to carry out the order to withdraw the troops. The detachments of Cossacks and guards assigned to the Dubasari and Grigoriopol regions were not able to arrive quickly to the aid of Bender. Therefore, on the night of 19 on 20 June, only the militia units from among the people of Bender and the workers of local enterprises resisted the Moldovan troops. In the battles on the square outside the city executive committee, the marching chieftain of the Black Sea Cossack Transnistrian army Semyon Driglov was killed. Bender was assisted by a detachment of militia from the village of Gyska, which, although under the control of Moldova, was supported by Transdniestrian authorities.
The fighting in Bendery caused a massive outflow of civilians. In Tiraspol, tens of thousands of refugees rushed out of the city by rail in freight cars. Only in the early morning of June 20 was mobilization announced in Tiraspol. All this time in Bender continued fighting between numerous Moldovan forces and scattered militias. Finally, Guardsmen and policemen from Tiraspol and special forces of the MGB “Delta” arrived to help the residents of Bender. In the meantime, the Moldovan troops seized a number of enterprises in the city and set about uniform looting, taking out equipment and products to Chisinau.
As you know, in the region of the Dniester stationed part of the Russian 14-th army, which maintained strict neutrality. However, 20 June Russian units still had to intervene in the conflict - after the Moldovan police tried to take by assault Bendery fortress, which housed the rocket brigade and the chemical battalion of the 14 Army. The soldiers attacked the Moldovan police repulsed. In addition, the Moldovan formations opened artillery fire on the location of the 14 Army. The army command demanded that the Moldovan command immediately cease hostilities.
Transnistrian guards seized three tank T-64 of the 59th Motorized Rifle Division of the 14th Army, then - with five more tanks, after which they launched an attack on Bender. On the bridge, a battle took place between the Moldavian and Transnistrian units using tanks and artillery. In the village of Parkany, the military unit of the 14th Army went over to the side of Transnistria and took the oath of allegiance to the PMR. It was possible to defeat and force the Moldovan military unit, located at the Bender bridge, to flee. From the Moldovan units, almost the entire rank and file deserted, so almost only officers participated in the battles. Colonel Karasev and his chief of staff, Lt. Col. Chikhodar, were wounded during the fighting on the bridge and taken to the hospital. Later, Colonel Karasev died of his wounds. Moldavian units threw armored vehicles and retreated to the outskirts of the city. However, the street fighting in Bender continued until June 23. On June 22, two Moldovan Air Force aircraft bombed the bridge, but bombs fell in the village of Parkany, causing the destruction of several residential buildings. Several residents of the village of Parkany died as a result of the bombing. In the end, one of the planes was shot down by the 14th Army's air defense forces after trying to bomb an oil terminal.
7 July representatives of the Russian side arrived in Transnistria, a cease-fire agreement was signed. Two weeks later, on July 21, the presidents of Russia and Moldova Boris Yeltsin and Mircea Snegur met in Moscow. The head of the PMR Igor Smirnov was also present at the meeting. As a result of the negotiations, an agreement was signed “On the principles of the settlement of the armed conflict in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova”. 1 August 1992 conflict was frozen, peacekeeping forces were deployed in Transnistria as part of 3100 Russian, 1200 Moldovan and 1200 Transnistrian troops. The war in Transnistria wore a just people's liberation character on the part of the Transnistrian multinational population, who was not afraid to oppose the superior forces of the Moldovan nationalist government. As a result of the hostilities, the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika became in fact an independent state entity, which, however, was not recognized by most countries of the world. Today, after 24 after the armed conflict, Transnistria is a real state with its own authorities, armed forces, educational institutions and other necessary attributes.
As a result of the Bendery tragedy, 320 soldiers of the Moldavian army and 425 of Transnistrian soldiers died. According to the Moldovan side, 77 people died, including 37 civilians. The injured - 532 people, including 184 - civilians. Naturally, the fighting in Bender could not but cause significant harm to the urban residential and business infrastructure. 1280 houses were damaged, including 60 houses completely destroyed. Also 15 medical and 19 educational institutions were destroyed, 46 industrial and transport enterprises, 603 state houses were partially damaged, 5 multi-storey residential buildings were destroyed. The atrocities of the Moldavian nationalists in Bender became known to the whole world, although the Western media tried their best to keep silent or distort information about the causes, progress and consequences of these tragic events. The position of Russia in relation to the Bendery tragedy also cannot be perceived unequivocally. After all, Russia seems to have contributed to the resolution of the armed conflict and became the guarantor of the actual political independence of the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika, but on the other hand, not wanting to quarrel with official Chisinau, the Russian government continued to maintain relations with the Moldovan leadership. Despite the fact that the actions of the Moldovan side against the civilian population of Transnistria had all the signs of committing war crimes, the political and military leaders of Moldova did not bear any responsibility for their criminal actions against the Transnistrian people.
The events in Transnistria were one of the first conflicts in the post-Soviet space, in which openly pro-Western forces of Moldovan nationalists (and Romanian mercenaries and volunteers who came to the rescue) and Russian (and Soviet) patriots opposed each other. There is much in common with the events in Transnistria in the 1992 year and the events in the New Russia (Donetsk and Lugansk republics) in the 2014-2016 years. Not by chance, after 22-24, after the events in Bendery and other parts of Transnistria, in fact, the very same forces turned against each other in Novorossia. On the one hand, Ukrainian nationalists advocating a single Ukrainian language as a state language, suppressing the Russian-speaking population in the south and east of the country, and on the other hand, patriots of various convictions, from monarchists and Russian nationalists to communists.