South of the black lands of Moldova is the autonomous region of Gagauzia. Anna Zhekova, a now 81-year-old journalist who was one of the first people to write for a newspaper in the local language, started working there.
Gagauzia has enjoyed a special status within the Republic of Moldova since 1994 after the struggle of its neighbors after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. In this region lives the Gagaúz ethnic minority that comes from Dobrija (Bulgaria) and speaks in Gagaúz , a Turkic language.
Zhekova was born in the capital, Comrat, in 1940, during the Second World War, when the territory was part of Romania. The journalist has been a narrator and an important part of the history of her land. “I have lived in Romania, the USSR and now in the Gagaúz autonomy of the Republic of Moldova,” he says.
Anna remembers her youth and longs for Soviet times because, she says, life was easier for her. Zhekova had the opportunity to study and graduated in Biology at the University of Chisinau, although this did not end up being her profession. Between 1962 and 1964 she worked in a branch of her profession as a fish farmer in Krasnodar, in southern Russia, and in Krasnoyar, in Siberia.
On her return to the Gagaúz capital she worked as a Biology and Chemistry teacher in a school in 1965. That year Anna’s life changed. “The students ignored me, they did what they wanted and I couldn’t take it anymore, I got tired and quit work,” he says.
When she saw that she did not fit in as a teacher, she began to look for other job options and found her place as a journalist in December of that same year in the newspaper Lenin’s word, a newspaper from the Comrat neighborhood in Gagauzia. The editor-in-chief gave him a trial month and began by charging 60 rubles (0.68 euros). At that time that salary was enough to live. “It seems that 60 rubles is not enough, but at that time it was a lot of money, with one ruble we could buy, for example, six loaves,” he explains. Then it was one of the first people which he wrote in a newspaper in the local language.
The first commission that Zhekova received touched the line between humor and news. “They sent me to write about a hen that laid many eggs in the koljos -Soviet collective farm- of Cioc-Maidan (Gagauzia) ”, he laughs.
The current labor reality in Moldova is very different, there is hardly any work in the country and if there is, it is very low wages. Young people emigrate to Russia, Turkey and Germany in order to earn a living wage. In 2004, there were 3.3 million inhabitants in the Republic of Moldova; in 2020, they are 2.64 million. Of that number, a large number of people spend half a year outside the country working.
Emigration has been the main protagonist in the elections held in the country in the last year. A population tired of corruption, the lack of social and economic progress and forced to emigrate has decided to change the course of the country.
The diaspora has been the one who has taken that balance to Europe and Maia Sandu is the protagonist of this change. She was the founder of the Action and Solidarity Party –with a more pro-European vision– and was proclaimed the winner in the presidential elections of November 2020. This victory was an important step in the country’s drift that was definitively confirmed on July 11, with the victory in the parliamentary elections of Igor Grosu, candidate for Prime Minister of the Action and Solidarity Party, with 52% of the votes. On this occasion, the diaspora also played an important role with 209,000 voters (of them, 86% voted for Grosu).