The Turkic Wolf
Gagauzia (Gagauz Yeri) is a tiny autonomous region inside the Republic of Moldova. Their identity has been forged out of two apparently opposed elements: the Gagauz are in fact a Christian Orthodox people of Turkic origin with a language that is closely related to all known Turkic idioms.
Although the similarities with Moldovans exceed the differences, in 1991 the Gagauz leaders declared in Comrat (capital city of the region) the independence from Moldova. Gagauzians manage to obtain the autonomy status instead of full sovereignty on one condition: they will have the right to decide their own destiny if Moldova becomes a part of Romania.
After more than 26 years of Moldova’s independence and 23 years of Gagauz Yeri’s autonomy, the state of things and spirits has not changed much. Kremlin’s propaganda is keeping the animosity alive – the Russian TV is by far the most popular and trusted source in Gagauzia. Keen to preserve their identity against Moldovans, the Gagauzians are widely open towards Russian influence: now the majority of Gagauzians would rather prefer the Russian than their native language.
In the recent years, since the Crimea and Donbass events, regions like Gagauzia returned into the world’s press limelight. Despite the increased international attention and twisted geopolitical moves made in the name of Gagauzia, its people, are continuing to live their usual conservative lives. When you arrive in Gagauzia it is surprising to find the same lifestyle as that of our grandfathers, the Europe as it was before the urban civilization. Gagauzia is where Europe could have happened, but didn’t, it is a relic of the Soviet past, a past well-forgotten but not extinct.
Text: Adrian Ciubotaru
Alessandro (Italy, 1973) is a self-trained documentary photographer, which has a special interest for stories in East Europe and Ex-Soviet Union Countries. His career as a photographer started at the end of 2008 after working for almost five years with Medecins Sans Frontieres as a biologist. Photography for Alessandro is the link between those who have a story to tell and those willing to hear it. What he most enjoys about his work is the interaction with people and the countless stories that he comes across.
The Turkic Wolf it’s a journey through the daily life of Gagauzian people, a community with Turkic origins that convert to Christian Orthodox Church. It is a portrait of a very tiny autonomous region where it seems that time has stopped at our post-war period. The Turkic Wolf it’s meant to be the first chapter of a longer project about communities living in countries that are not part of their culture, their origin.
Alessandro’s works have been published in The Guardian, l’OBS, Le Monde, CNN, Mariclaire, D della Repubblica, Vanity Fair, GEO Italy, Revue 21 among others.
Alessandro is based in Barcelona where he lives with his family.