Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
Update No: 307 - (27/07/06)
Separatist Moldovan region calls September referendum;
Montenegro has its imitators
Moldova's separatist Dnestr region remains a festering sore in its body politic,
just as Montenegro - and Kosovo - were obstreperous in Serbia. It said on July
12th that it would hold a referendum in September to confirm its independence,
unrecognised internationally for 16 years, and to consider becoming part of
Russia. That it is imitating Montenegro, which has seceded by referendum from a
union with Serbia, is obvious. It is significant and obviously shows this
referendum is just a political 'fix,' that it does not pose the further
alternative of re-joining Moldova, or even of joining Ukraine, it's giant
neighbour that surrounds it on three sides, a much more logical choice than
distant Russia. Russia's ethnic representation in Transnistria is far below that
of the Romanian-speaking Moldovans, and also behind the ethnic Ukrainians.
This obviously has dramatic implications for all concerned. Dnestr's Slav
leaders declared independence from Moldova in communist times on the grounds
that the Soviet republic's majority ethnic Romanian population might join
That never happened. But all attempts at mediation have failed and talks on the
row, one of several "frozen conflicts" in the former Soviet Union,
have bogged down in recent months.
"A referendum on the question of relations between Russia and Moldova will
take place in Dnestr on September 17th," the region's Olvia-press news
agency said. Voters would be asked two questions -- whether they backed policies
upholding independence "and subsequent free attachment to the Russian
Federation" and whether they considered rejecting independence and accepted
"subsequent integration in Moldova." It is most unlikely to be an
honest referendum as the Dnestr region is a byword for corruptness
Dnestr's leaders, who have close links with conservative politicians in Moscow,
have long planned the referendum. The recent secession of Montenegro from Serbia
by referendum has been duly noted. They have also been watching talks on the
future of Kosovo and suggesting that granting independence to Serbia's
Albanian-dominated province, as diplomats say may happen this year, would set
yet another precedent for their separatist cause.
Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin has said a Dnestr referendum would have no
legal force. Western states -- and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation
in Europe which leads mediation efforts -- have ignored previous elections in
Dnestr. "The OSCE and other international organisations have said in
advance that no one will recognise the results. And no one will go there,"
Voronin told reporters in Chisinau.
Dnestr's veteran leader, Igor Smirnov, told his legislature that "the final
carve-up of former Soviet territory is now proceeding. It is therefore important
to set out the framework of Dnestr's development, based on the will of the
Quoted by local media, he said leaders had discussed the referendum with
Russia's foreign ministry, who would undoubtedly have vetoed any suggestion that
the referendum might include rejoining Moldova, or joining neighbouring Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin gave new hope to rebel leaders like Smirnov by
saying the frozen conflicts needed to be resolved bearing in mind the rights of
nations "to resolve their own futures."
Dnestr fought a war with Moldova in 1992 after Soviet rule collapsed. Russian
troops separated the sides and 1,200 remain despite Kremlin promises of
Moldova says it would offer Dnestr broad autonomy and decries the Russian
presence as the main obstacle to a settlement.
Russia, wary of calls for Chechen independence, says it recognises any state's
territorial integrity. It also calls for the self-determination of nations to be
upheld in separatist conflicts.
Russian gas price hikes not political
There have been other sources of contention with Moscow recently. Voronin
said on July 11th that Russian gas price hikes and its wine ban earlier this
year were not politically-motivated decisions, a disingenuous position. They
have certainly had an adverse effect on the economy, which is very hard hit.
"We indeed do not see politics behind Moldovan-Russian energy supplies
relations. Russia has changed its position on gas supply with regard to all
countries without exception - Ukraine, Belarus, Georgia and Armenia. Trying to
see here something exclusively anti-Moldovan means nothing but
incompetence," said Voronin, Infotag news agency reports.
"If we joined the Russia-Belarus union tomorrow, which in fact is
impossible, then the gas price for Moldova would not decrease." Probably
The Moldovan leader said in terms of the Russian wine ban, "the situation
Russian banned imports of alcoholic beverages from Moldova in late March 2006,
citing sanitary requirements. "However, even here the exception confirms
the rule. Even though Moldova has not yet received any official document proving
the low quality of our produce, it is also very difficult to see politics behind
this decision," said Voronin. Here he is being even more disingenuous.
Voronin said that the country should rely on its own criteria for verifying
produce and it should begin to look for new markets - a fairly obvious
conclusion for whatever reasons, Voronin has altered course from justifiably
blaming Russian supporters of Transdnestr in squeezing the Moldovan economy, as
in the wine ban, which has long been Moldova's principal export commodity.
Russia raises natural gas price for Moldova 45%
Russia and Moldova have signed a contract raising gas prices for the former
Soviet republic from US$110 early this year to US$160 per 1,000 cubic meters
from the second half of 2006, Gazprom (RTS: GAZP) said recently, RIA Novosti
"Under a contract signed by Gazprom and Moldovagaz, gas will be supplied to
Moldova in the second part of 2006 at US$160 per 1,000 cubic meters," the
Russian energy giant said.
Gazprom said in 2005 it had supplied 2.82 billion cu m of natural gas to
The company is seeking to gradually raise the price it charges for gas supplies
to former Soviet republics up to the average European price of US$250.