Beautiful lands of vineyards and orchards look more beautiful in war times. That I have discovered in many places: at the Balkans, during Serbian wars, then later in Abkhazia and Transdnestrie. As a matter of fact the lands of vineyards and orchards are in itselfs the very reasons for wars. Because some people want to get it, and some want to keep it. Rich, picturesque, good looking lands, mountains or otherwise located near the mighty blue rivers are hard to leave in enemy hands, so people fight. Serbs, Croats, Muslims, Abkhazes, Moldavians, Russians, Ukrainians, fight each other for vineyards and orchards. I never met one person fighting for Moscow’s flatness.
Apricot orchards lay under the autumn sun on both sides of the road from Grigoriupol. Road goes near Dniestr in direction to Dubossarskaia hydro-electrical station. For dozens of kilometers we are observing vast apricot harvest lying on the ground. Because of the war nobody bothered to pick up apricots. Trenches of Transdnestrians are on the left side of the road, in shadows of first line of apricots trees, and trenches of "Rumanians," as they call army of Moldova, somewhere inside of masses of apricot trees. Odor of rotten apricots, sweet and bitter, odor of putrefaction of thousands of tonnes of apricots made on us impression to be at tropical lands.
"Jesus, it was long time ago, in 1992."
Trenches were populated by Cossacks volunteers. There was no fighting in that day, I remember some Cossacks were asleep, lying on the blankets in shadows of apricot trees, their Kalashnikovs near them, at hand’s length.
There was no fighting in that day on the road from Grigoriupol, because at previous night two "Rumanians" have crawled to Transdnestrians’ trenches, carrying with them two huge canisters full of good wine. They asked for armistice on behalf of their battalion commander. Commander asked for two days’ armistice, so he can have his wedding. Cossacks’ commander tasted wine and after that have agreed on armistice. "Rumanians have crawled back into night. You can listen to wedding orchestra, if you walk some metres into orchard," said Cossacks’ commander—"Esaul" Kolontaev.
However, after armistice have ended in two days Cossacks crawled at night to "Rumanians" trenches and dug out some antipersonnel mines protecting "Rumanians" trenches from Cossacks. Then Cossacks have dig them in, but in other places, in particular near Rumanian toilet booth.
"Why did you do such dangerous operation?" asked I.
Kolontaev smiled, "Yes, sure it is dangerous, that type of mine normally considered not removable, but we know the trick, and anyway, what kind of Cossacks we are, if we not doing all sorts of trickery?"
Cossacks’ trickery have caused an explosion. One dead. Everybody were happy with their Cossacks’ trick until the next morning, when young Cossack from Kuban region was shot by the sniper. It was obvious that "Rumanians" have paid back to Cossacks for their night expedition. And "Rumanians" didn’t have an intention to stop. One of the trenches was fired at during that very same day, when young Cossack was shot dead. Kolontaev told me that "Rumanians" have invited Baltic-girl sniper, so-called "white stocking," and she will hunt Cossacks out of hate for Russians, and specially for Cossacks. Kolontaev ordered his men to be careful, be aware of white stocking in vicinity somewhere in apricot orchard.
I was skeptical about "white stocking." Week before I was participating in hunt for white stocking in town called Benderi. We have received an information that bleeding white-stocking have hidden herself in huge basement used previously as a wine cellar. Dozen of Transdnestrian fighters and me, we carefully invaded that basement. It was some blood drops, yes, we also found one red women shoe in one of the cellars compartments, near dirty mattress, but no Baltic-girl. Some of Transdnestrians voiced opinion that white-stocking was wounded and have rested for some time in that cellar. One young fellow expressed opinion that local girls and boys used that cellar for sexual pleasures, shoe may be forgotten by some drunken girl and blood drops could be just you know, menstruation blood… But nobody wanted to believe that simple version. People always like an attractive legends, they don’t like vulgar truths. So senior of our group have reported to headquarters that white-stocking have escaped before our arrival, that presumably she was prevented of danger by some local "narodni front" hidden supporter.
Next day Kolontaev’s men have fired dozens mortar shells on Rumanian positions. Rumanians suffered some causalities. They answered to Cossacks by firing their mortar shells on Cossack’s position, but at night they have send their man to talk to Kolontaev. "Rumanian" said that sniper is not white-stocking, that he is a bearded man over forty. That he doesn’t belong to their battalion, that he works independently. That sniper comes to nearest village everyday by bus, then he takes bicycle, rides bicycle to a front line. He is choosing his positions by himself. Sniper is not subordinated to commander of their battalion, but to military commander of the region. He is former champion in sharp-shooting,--that sniper. He doesn’t converse with other soldiers. As a matter of fact he is source of disaster for their battalion. They hate his guts, because after his sniping hunt on Cossacks, Cossacks answer in mortar shelling have killed three man in battalion. Commander of Rumanian battalion have suggestion to made. We will indicate to you Cossacks,--sniper whereabouts, and you, Cossacks, will cease to go to our trenches at nights and dig out our mines.
Kolontaev thought very little. He promised to stop dirty tricks with mines. "No diggings of mines anymore," promised Kolontaev, "and you give us that fucking sniper be his mother fucked." They had agreed on plan concerning sniper and "Rumanian" left guarded by two Transdnestrians, they walk him to the front line.
Kolontaev hoped to capture sniper alive, but it happen otherwise. Bearded man in civilian clothes died of bullet wounds. Dead, he looked as a tourist, unoffensive, rather heavy build, wearing checked short and dark trousers. He even didn’t look as a hunter, rather mushroom collector. I saw him. As mushroom collector, yes, expect his beautiful champions rifle.
Cossacks were disappointed that sniper proved to be not a white stocking. They looked rather unhappy. May be they dreamed to rape their enemy white-stocking, Baltic girl. Who knows, Cossacks are mysterious tribe.