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(generated from captions) 'Australian Women's Weekly'

or at participating booksellers. LIGHT-HEARTED MUSIC Here in Kenya and in other living in desperate poverty. there are many children from the only source they have. Every day George fetches water

he has no choice but to drink it. and even though it makes him sick, their crops have failed Because of the drought, George's future looks bleak. Without help, the life of a child like George But you could help change their age and even their country, Please sponsor a child today. where you can sponsor online now. Call us or visit our website It only take a few minutes a child's life forever. but it will help change We just signed up on the Internet change a child's life, Knowing that we may have helped around the world like George There are many children who urgently need our help. please do it today. for 10,000 children in urgent need 10,000 sponsors by the end of August. Australia is counting on you. PHONE RINGS RINGING SLOWS DOWN MEXICAN GUITAR MUSIC SONG: # Oh, yo # Mio, mi The legendary El Maco is back. (Singing in Spanish continues) sour cream and taco sauce. With two all-beef patties, # Mio, mio. # can handle the job? So you think your company Mr Pierce, at ErnCorp, whatever you can throw at us. we're geared to take Right. Video call. Five minutes. I'll get my IT department onto it. Another video call, Ern? Cheryl! You know the drill. Yeah. A biggie. With Telstra's business solutions, even if you're not. you can look like a big business DIALTONE BUZZES PHONE RINGS Ern? Tremendous. Afternoon, gents. or visit a Telstra Shop. Want to talk business? Call us now that does not exist. This is the story of a country all international control A country that has escaped since its birth in 1990. The Republic of Transnistria. half the size of Corsica, A tiny strip of land between Moldova and Ukraine. to the east of Romania, which cannot be found on any map It's said that behind this border

any kind of weapon you like. you can buy the international community says Weapons with complete impunity, will wind their way, of rebel groups and terrorists into the hands and more recently in Iraq. operating in the Caucasus and Africa Weapons said to come biggest military stockpiles. from one of Europe's a mere three-hour flight from Paris. A powder keg... of the Republic of Transnistria. Tiraspol, capital Home base of the Soviet 14th Army. A former Red Army garrison town. and dozens of tank divisions, 100,000 troops in less than a week. able to reach Turkey and Greece of the USSR, 15 years after the collapse by a Soviet-loving regime. Transnistria is still run And the Russian army is still here. Until a few short years ago, granted only three-hour visas - Transnistrian authorities the country, flat tyre included. the time it takes to cross they've let us in for 10 full days. Breaking with general practice, paying a tourist tax. Another mandatory formality - into the local currency 2 euros, that we have to change at the National Bank of Transnistria. prints its own currency The real fake country 10 roubles to one euro. and sets its own exchange rate - nothing to do with reality. A rate that has We've exchanged our euros. We've registered. Our first steps in Tiraspol, under Lenin's watchful gaze. and our first identity check, to the Transnistrian National Army. This man belongs PLAYS THROUGH SPEAKERS ROUSING SONG Patriotic songs blare out spread throughout the city. from loudspeakers filming ceremonies The official reason for our visit - for a history documentary. commemorating the end of WWII Thanks to this front, gave us press accreditation. the Ministry of Information to find out all we can We have 10 days most opaque countries. about one of the world's anyone or anything here. We were forewarned - no one trusts in the grey suit, In the middle, stands Igor Nikolaievitch Smirnov, of the Republic of Transnistria President since 1991. calls a usurper. A man the European Union His enemies call him a thief of another country - Moldova. who snatched land that was part by the international community. A sovereign country, recognised A hold-up in plain day. and the other members of his cabinet Which explains why Igor Smirnov are banned from entering Europe, being thrown in prison. where they risk to welcome them for vacations. Luckily for them, Russia is glad Igor Smirnov is a discreet president. with the Western media. He has never spoken

"Break up the clouds"... of Soviet grandeur, like back in the days to clear up the skies when the Kremlin used aeroplanes before military parades in Moscow. over 1000 kilometres from Tiraspol, The Russian capital is think in Russian. yet the people here speak Russian, their Russian passports. Many have even kept

And yet, one fine morning in 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, just one year almost turned into a nightmare the great Soviet dream for Transnistria's Russians. this province actually belongs, Moldova, the country to which declared independence. followed suit. Other Soviet satellites the Kremlin and the KGB But here in Transnistria,

to keep control of the country. fought hard One man led the battle for them. An obscure Russian KGB agent a few years earlier who'd been parachuted into Tiraspol main arms factories - to run one of the city's the famous Igor Smirnov. On 2nd September 1990, of Transnistria, he created the Socialist Republic then banded together militias to defend its sovereignty. to forge an army War with Moldova was inevitable.

should have been able The Moldavian army to put down the insurrection without any problem. But fighting went on for four months, leaving over 1000 dead. The truth is, Igor Smirnov and his militias have access to the incredible military and logistical might of their Russian backers, including their most famous supporter, General Lebed himself, the Commander-in-Chief of the Soviet 14th Army. The man who would force a ceasefire on Moldova. He stepped in to tip the situation in Transnistria's favour. In the guise of a peacekeeping mission, Russian troops began guaranteeing the continued existence and security of an outlaw state. A situation that has fostered all kinds of trafficking, starting with weapons trafficking. As part of our pretend history documentary, our cover for investigating arms trafficking here, we asked for permission to meet with soldiers. Transnistrian authorities suggested we meet with veterans of the independence war,

Smirnov's biggest supporters. Sergey is the head of the Tiraspol Veterans Association. This retired Russian military officer is the first one willing to discuss the subject of trafficking. But first, we must raise our glasses to his former comrades-in-arms. A toast that begins to sound more like a warning. (All laugh) We've been warned. Sergey has clearly taken a liking to us. He invites us back home for lunch. And yes, he'll talk to us about arms trafficking, once the baby's been fed and the vodka's gone. A hardline Communist who defends himself by quoting Goebbels. Surprising. But the veteran seems sure of himself. Sergey even promises to help us film inside one of the factories. We'll see. In the meantime, a few hours after this conversation, we're summoned to the Ministry of State Security. Oleg, the other veteran we met, passes along the message. Vladimir Antyufeev, head of the country's secret service, would like to meet us. On the way, Oleg tries to reassure us. What the veteran doesn't tell us is that the MGB is a field branch of the FSB - the Russian secret service. A local FSB office, just like those the intelligence agency has in every Russian province, with one difference - its agents have immunity, more or less, because of the country's unique status. Vladimir Antyufeev, for instance, the man who wants to meet us, is a senior officer in the Russian secret service. He came here in 1991, after Transnistria claimed independence. At the time, he was being sought by Interpol for a series of murders in Latvia. He arrived here under a false name to escape the Interpol search. Within a few weeks' time, he'd become the country's number-two leader, right behind President Smirnov. Antyufeev has turned the MGB into one of the region's most feared intelligence services. We're lucky - he hasn't called us in to arrest us, but just to talk. He wants to take advantage of our presence here to quell the rumours about supposed arms trafficking in his country. "A nice little state", without any bandits... but with a Sheriff who rules supreme. Sheriff gas stations, Sheriff telephone company, Sheriff construction firm, Sheriff sports centre, Sheriff casinos... even Sheriff supermarkets. The brand is everywhere, even on champagne bottles and tea bags. A rather odd private company, in a country that still believes in Socialism. It was founded in 1994 by three former policemen, including President Smirnov's youngest son. There haven't been any serious independent inquiries into the activities of the Sheriff group, and even less questioning of trafficking ascribed to the clan that secretly controls the country. And yet the UN says the country's leaders siphon off one billion dollars a year, through illegal transactions conducted in Transnistria. And since everything is a family affair here, another one of the president's sons runs the customs service... a Mafia-style system that no one dares openly criticise. This unnamed taxi driver doesn't know our camera is rolling. A lawless zone, where not one of the regime opponents was willing to talk on camera.

We decided to go visit the leaders of the Moldavian minority, who are routinely harassed by the pro-Russian regime. This school, for instance, was forcibly closed by Antyufeev's militia.

Its misstep - continuing to teach in Moldavian, a language that displeases the regime. For several months, its 15 teachers and 300-plus students had to study in Russian schools. But Transnistria's Moldavians resisted, and finally got their school reopened. They even won the right to sing the Moldavian anthem. The reopening of this school was one of the regime's rare concessions, done to quell the international community's growing protests. But don't be fooled - everyone here is considered the enemy within. No doubt fearing reprisals, the school principal is the only one brave enough to say more with the camera rolling. Not wanting to put the school's teachers in danger, he asks us to meet him at his home, far from prying ears... a courageous act. Kolbasna has one of the biggest military arms stockpiles on the continent. Located 130 km north of the capital, it was once a Red Army munitions depot. The OSCE, the body that sorts out European conflicts, has overseen the site for the past several years. Soviet ammunitions are still stored inside... shells, grenades and missiles. Many were brought here from East Germany, Hungary and Czechoslovakia, after the Berlin Wall fell. All in all, more than 42,000 tonnes of conventional ammunition. This is, in explosive power, it's comparable to at least two times the power of the bomb that levelled Hiroshima in 1945. So that's a lot of explosive power. Even more troubling,

a good deal of munitions have disappeared from Kolbasna since 1992. Even General Lebed, the man who helped create Transnistria, would eventually openly criticise the Mafia-like conduct of the regime in Tiraspol. In an interview on American television, he spoke of several nuclear "suitcase weapons" that disappeared from Kolbasna. A suitcase bomb, a miniature atomic bomb capable of killing thousands of people, an ideal weapon for terrorists. So you're saying these weapons are no longer under the control of the Russian military? I am saying that more than 100 weapons, out of the supposed number of 250, are not under the control of the armed forces of Russia. I don't know their location. I don't know whether they've been destroyed,

or whether they're stored, or whether they have been sold or stolen, I don't know. How easy is it to steal one? It's suitcase size... In 2001, under pressure from the OSCE, the Russians and Transnistrians finally opened up

some of their military depots to inspectors. Over a three-year period, over 20,000 tonnes of munitions stockpiled in Transnistria were either transferred to Russia by rail, or destroyed on-site. Officially, everything even remotely linked with nuclear weapons is now safely secured. But we can't be absolutely sure of this, because the operation to transfer or destroy weapons is still going on. The OSCE does not recognise Transnistria. It keeps its office in Moldova, 70 km from Tiraspol. French army general, Bernard Aussedat, has been stationed in Moldova since 2003. He is one of a tiny handful of Western military officials who have visited Kolbasna several times. 22,000 tonnes of munitions out in the open, or in underground depots, which still have to be removed. The OSCE inspectors do not recognise Transnistria's borders. In theory, they have the authority to visit and inspect Kolbasna's munitions depots whenever they choose.

As we find out, theory and reality are worlds apart in Transnistria. The list Bernard Aussedat is referring to, contains the names of a dozen OSCE inspectors authorised to visit the Kolbasna site. He is on the list. In theory, the Transnistrian police have no right to check his papers. But the diplomat will have to wait an hour, before he can go. One hour, during which he refuses to show them his diplomatic passport. As a matter of principle. We must drive another hour, to reach the depot. I think it's here, yeah. Say hello to these gentlemen...

OSCE inspectors are allowed inside Transnistria, but they are systematically impeded from carrying out their work. The showdown has been going on for two years now, in violation of international law.

Far from the gaze of OSCE inspectors, anything is indeed possible, as shown in this arrest report, drawn up by the Moldavian police. The man arrested was the second-in-command of the Russian forces in Transnistria. Lieutenant-Colonel Vladimir Nemkov was sentenced to four years in prison for transporting anti-aircraft missiles, detonators, and explosives. Just the kind of material needed to shoot down an airliner over any European airport. We got this information from a Romanian senator. We took a special interest in him, because he is also a former officer in the Soviet 14th Army. Ilie Ilascu learned how the system works from the inside. Ilie Ilascu is a personal enemy of Vladimir Antyufeev. Antyufeev is the MGB leader who became second-in-command in Transnistria in 1991. At the time, Ilascu was a member of Russia's special forces, the infamous Spetsnaz. But he chose the Moldavian camp, against Antyufeev. Antyufeev accused him of being a spy, and had him sentenced to death. Ilascu was freed in 2001, after spending nine years in a Transnistrian prison. The MGB leader's main charge against Ilascu... inquiring into the weapons stockpiles the Russians gave Transnistria. Here are the arms the Russian army gave to the Transnistrian army. It was last September 2nd, for Transnistria's 15th Independence Anniversary. The Commander-in-Chief of the Army, President Igor Smirnov, put his entire military arsenal on display, trying to impress his potential enemies. But not all the arms were gifts from Russia. Some were made in Transnistrian factories. These rocket launchers, for instance, on these trucks, were made right here. A surprising production capacity for a country that doesn't exist. Until we learn that Transnistria was long a flagship in the Soviet military-industrial complex. Information proudly shared with us by a military expert we were authorised to interview. We tried to get inside one of these factories that no longer produce arms... the Elektromash factory, in the outskirts of Tiraspol. The factory most frequently accused of manufacturing handguns. President Igor Smirnov was its manager, before taking over as head of the country. Officially, Elektromash only makes electrical appliances now. But not a single Western expert has ever set foot inside this factory.

At one time or another, these factories have engaged in the production or assembly of arms. In particular, we know there have been contracts with the Russian state arms agency, for assembly, and shipment, and delivery, and sale of arms. The Elektromash factory is suspected of producing automatic pistols, among other things. There may be unauthorised production. The problem is that... no one knows... no one outside of Transnistria knows for sure, because comprehensive information is not available, it's not published, and there is no access. We tried to visit the Elektromash factory, over and over again. We made repeated requests to the factory's management... without success. Impossible to get inside the Elektromash workshops. But we kept on insisting, until the Ministry of Foreign Affairs finally called us in to explain the refusal.

The decision to not allow us to film is obviously politically motivated. I'm sure there is some production, some things probably go on. But how much, is just something... it's all speculation. To learn more about arms trafficking in Transnistria, we turned to SEESAC, an agency working under the umbrella of the UN. Its mission - tracking the hundreds of thousands of AK-47 assault rifles, mortars and handguns, that flowed out of Eastern Europe to guerrilla fighters operating in hot spots around the globe. SEESAC put us in touch with Brian Johnson Thomas, a former British war correspondent and arms-trafficking specialist. He has written several reports for the UN on this problem. Brian Johnson Thomas investigated a large stockpile of Soviet-made weapons that found their way to Central Africa. The trail led him back to Transnistria, and straight to the Kolbasna munitions depot. We met Brian Johnson Thomas in Paris, after his return from Central Africa. There have been allegations, in the case of the DMR, that they've made pistols and they've stamped "Colt" on them and "Smith & Wesson", and things, which makes them more difficult to trace because they're effectively forgeries. There's also the problem that, with larger weapon systems, you don't have a serial number stamped into the metal. Now there's an 82mm mortar which MONUC, the United Nations Mission in Congo, has found which looks as if it came from Tiraspol. But it's awfully hard to definitively prove that without going into Tiraspol and raiding the factory and finding others there. Brian Johnson Thomas tells us he's getting ready to visit Transnistria himself, for the renowned British newspaper 'The Sunday Times'. According to their sources, the Transnistrians also produced non-conventional arms... radioactive bombs, commonly called "dirty bombs". The information I've got seems to indicate that three of these are in the hands of the people in the DMR. The next stage is to see whether they're as nasty as we think they are, and if they will sell them to me. 'The Sunday Times' asked the arms expert to pretend he's an arms broker looking to purchase weapons. Our investigations overlap. We decide to meet in Moldova, and work together.

Brian is supposed to make contact with someone called Dimitri. He'll pass himself off as a middle-man working for an Algerian terrorist group.

His objective - getting a look at the bombs, then backing out of the deal before the purchase.

He made the first contact in the city of Bender, near the border, inside Transnistria. We didn't go along - our presence could have spoiled the deal. We're too easily spotted in Transnistria. So I got down there, and it's a very big concrete bridge over the Dniester. And it's very, very exposed because it stands above the river by about 10, 15 metres. And a smart black BMW comes over the bridge from Tiraspol way. Tinted window comes down and it's like every James Bond film you've ever seen, and this guy says... So I go across, and he says "Dimitri. Get in." So I get in the car, and we drive about 50 metres along the road and pull into a small car-parking area just behind the Russian peacekeeping forces post. He's all business, this guy. I mean, he's... I'd say, mid-30s, maybe late-30s, fairly smart, dark trousers, darkish shirt, tie. Smart - speaks very good English with a slight American accent. And he's all business. Fine, we've made contact, basically. "Now, this is how we'll do it - the price is $200,000 "and that's not negotiable, the price is the price." For $200,000, the so-called Dimitri will get a radioactive bomb, and deliver it directly to the buyer, by air. A small-sized bomb, easy to carry. Dirty bombs are a threat taken extremely seriously in Western capitals. The whole point of terrorists is to induce terror. If you imagine somewhere like the centre of Paris, or New York, or London... from 12 kilometres away, you can fire a missile at the Arc de Triomphe or something, which spreads radiation around a 500-metre radius. It would be... likely to cause a large panic. In a few hours, Brian will have his second meeting with the seller. For $2000, Brian will be allowed to see the bomb. But he must pull out of the deal before paying the balance. Once again, tagging along is out of the question. I don't think they'd be awfully pleased if they found out I was teasing them. There's always the danger, when you're dealing with the Russian Mafia, that they can be fairly robust in expressing their displeasure. Brian left for the meeting.

24 hours of anxious waiting, and still no news. Did someone blow our fake arms-dealer's cover? Is Brian in trouble? PHONE RINGS Yes? Hi, it's Brian. Yes. How are you? I'm all right, thank you. I'll give you a quick update. Dimitri offered me three Alazans for $500,000. I spoke to my people and they said this was too much money, this was not acceptable. I was only to offer the original $2000 to see the missiles, with a promise of further payment, thereafter. $500,000 for three radioactive rockets, with $25,000 due up-front, to see the weapons.

A price too stiff for 'The Sunday Times'. Brian will never see the rockets. His article on his dealings with Dimitri, the radioactive-bomb peddler, is published one week later. It causes quite a stir in Transnistria. Another official also talks to us about radioactive rockets. Yuri Cheban, Minister of the Environment, the man in charge of neutralising dangerous weapons in Transnistria. (Laughs loudly) But the minister lied to us... the radioactive rockets do indeed exist. We obtained these official Transnistrian documents, and had them translated. They talk of 38 rockets containing radioactive isotopes. these same official documents By coincidence, of a certain Yuri Cheban, bear the name who just laughed us off. the Minister of Environment the real identity We wanted to find out Brian met on the bridge in Bender. of the radioactive-bomb seller in the direction of one Dimitri Soin, Regime opponents pointed us in the Transnistrian secret service. an official given to us by Brian Johnson Thomas. He matches the description That's my Dimitri. Yeah, that's Dimitri. on the bridge, but it's Dimitri. He was wearing sunglasses and got another surprise. We went back to Transnistria,

Our first contact in the country, knows Dimitri Soin. the war veteran Sergey, along with his secret service job, According to Sergey, the director of a youth organisation. Dimitri Soin is also or "Breach". His foundation is called 'Proriv', Inside, we find a group of students the revolutionary Che Guevara who've apparently chosen as their role model. we think it's a youth movement At first,

overthrew pro-Soviet regimes much like the ones that peacefully Ukraine and Georgia. in Serbia, Despite all appearances, for just the opposite - these activists are fighting uniting Transnistria with Russia. An idea that pleases Moscow. of a Vladimir Putin emissary, The group even won the support Modest Kolerov, Relations, at the Kremlin. Head of Cultural and International the radioactive-bomb seller walks in. Two minutes later, He's the real boss here. Opposition leaders tell us of Major in the MGB. that Dimitri Soin holds the rank very close to his students. Dimitri Soin is obviously we bring up arms trafficking. After a few polite questions, he dismisses the allegations, As we expected, on neighbouring countries. putting the blame three radioactive rockets Did Dimitri Soin offer to sell for an Algerian terrorist group? to a man posing as a middle-man ask him the question eye-to-eye, We didn't dare because Dimitri Soin can get violent.

by the Moldavian police In fact, he is being sought as this document shows. for several murders, right here in Tiraspol. Killings committed The MGB Major even admitted to one of them. During our own short meeting with Dimitri Soin, one detail caught our attention... He said, to get weapons out of Transnistria, they'd have to work with their neighbours Ukraine and Moldova. No doubt. But he failed to mention one thing... there is an airport in Tiraspol. An airport used for many years by the Russian army to bring in its military troops and equipment. An airport that could be used to export arms shipments to warring zones, without any monitoring whatsoever. Sergey, the war veteran, does us a favour - he takes us to the airport. "The bigger the lie, the more they believe you." Sergey said that when we first met. A reference to Goebbels. He invites us to reconsider the adage again today. Despite Sergey's claims, OSCE inspectors say the Tiraspol airport is in good enough shape to use. On this day, we give the European agency

the results of our six-month investigation, including the official Transnistrian document that we had translated mentioning 38 radioactive rockets the country was supposed to have gotten rid of in 1994. Everyone inside the country seems to have forgotten they existed. General Bernard Aussedat had never seen the document before. At present, the international community is not in a position to take any action in Transnistria, a land that recognises just one judge and master - Russia. The post-Soviet regimes in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan collapsed before Russia could do anything about it. An unthinkable scenario, in Tiraspol. The Republic of Transnistria. A country that doesn't exist, but still considers Stalin one of mankind's greatest heroes. A country that can raise an army of 17,000 troops in weeks, and has several thousand tonnes of arms and munitions at its disposal. A country that let 100 nuclear suitcase bombs disappear from its munitions depots, and owned 38 radioactive rockets whose current location no one knows.

A country strongly suspected of illegally trafficking arms on the international market, that continues to sidestep all control. In September 2005, the Republic of Transnistria celebrated the 15th anniversary of its independence. What's wrong? My great-aunt Agnes just died. What, the one from Scotland? Yeah. The one with the castle and servants? The one with... other living relative but you? Yeah. (Sobs) you can be confident AXA and your financial adviser will help bring them to life. Money - it may make the world go round, but holding on to your money can make your head spin too. Sometimes it just seems to disappear by itself. But whether you have a little or a lot, it's easier than you think to take control. A few simple things done regularly can make a real difference. So put yourself in charge. Visit:

Or phone 1800 236 235 for a free handbook. DOOR SQUEAKS The legendary El Maco is back. With sour cream and taco sauce. So, come to McDonald's The '2006 Books Alive Great Read Guide' features 50 books that are so good, everyone will want to read them. Get your free copy in this month's 'Australian Women's Weekly' or at participating booksellers.

LIGHT-HEARTED MUSIC That's why we need 10,000 sponsors to help 10,000 children in urgent need. Children like 7-year-old George. Every day George fetches water from the only source they have. and even though it makes him sick, he has no choice but to drink it. Because of the drought, their crops have failed by becoming a sponsor today. Your sponsorship will help provide the basics every child deserves -