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MOLDOVA


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 1,964 1,621 1,500 141
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 590 460 400 157
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

Books on Moldova

REPUBLICAN REFERENCE

Area (sq.km) 
33,843 

Population 
4,446,455

Principal 
ethnic groups 
Moldovans 64.5%
Ukrainians 13.8%
Russians 13.0%

Capital 
Kishinev 
(Chisinau)

Currency
Leu (plural: Lei)

President 
Vladimir Voronin


Update No: 309 - (26/09/06)

A brief history of time - in the USSR
The Transnistria issue has bedevilled relations between Russia and Moldova for fifteen years now. It is likely to continue to do so. A little historical perspective is required to grasp this.
Moldova is anciently Bessarabia, a part of Romania, prised away from it by Stalin in 1940 under the terms of the Nazi-Soviet Pact of 1939. Moldovan and Romanian are basically the same language, and Moldovans and Romanians the same people, kept apart for 66 years by the accident of history. 
Stalin shackled on his new prize a Soviet military base in Transnistria, peopled by Russians and Ukrainians, loyal to the Soviet Union, 'divide and rule' being his motto. He was here following his usual policy of making the USSR such a complicated hotchpotch of overlapping nationalities that nobody would ever think of breaking it up. He had a passion for the redrawing of boundaries and the relocation of peoples, his treatment of Bessarabia doing both.
But, as we know, another far greater accident of history supervened, the Gorbachev phenomenon for short - everyone was obliged to think the unthinkable. The unravelling is taking a little time. But it is inexorable.

Transnistria to be used as an electoral ace at the Russian presidential elections
The Russian weekly "Argumenty i Fakty" describes a variant of how the Russians in power are intending to use the results of the referendums in Transnistria (September 17) and South Ossetia (November 12) on independence from their respective countries, Moldova and Georgia. 
According to the paper, "in the lobbies of the Russian administration there are thoughts of including the republics within Russia right before presidential elections in 2008." This, according to the opinion of journalists, could add popularity to the possible successor of Vladimir Putin. 
A relevant thing is that in Tiraspol, Valeri Litzkai, the Transnistrian minister of foreign relations, and also a leader of the pro-Russian movement "For unity with Russia," declared that after the inevitably victorious referendum on September 17, Transnistria will not become a part of Russia immediately, but will pass through several steps of integration. 
"World experience proves that country integration is a timely process. The most important thing is to have a decision of principle made by the population - whether we should go on this way (to Russia, - "PULS")", said V. Litzkai

The victorious referendum takes place
The following questions were put in the referendum:
"1. Do you support a policy for independence of the Transnistrian Moldavian Republic and Transnistria's further free joining the Russian Federation?
2. Do you think it is possible to abandon independence of the Transnistrian Moldavian Republic with Transnistria's further joining the Republic of Moldova?"
The answer to the first was a resounding 'Yes'; to the tune of 97%; to the second a huge 'No.'
The European Union, USA and OSCE assessed the Transnistrian referendum as an illegal sham, the results of which will not be acknowledged. 
The Russian Federation refused officially to condemn this referendum to be conducted regarding the independence of Transnistria, in spite of the appeal made by the United States "to publicly condemn this so-called referendum, that would contribute to the perception of Russia as truly neutral mediator in the process of Transnistrian settlement." 
Moldovan officials also stated from the start that they would not recognize the results of the September referendum. The Moldovan Minister of reintegration Vasilii Sova stated that the decision of Tiraspol authorities to conduct the referendum "is directed toward a further destabilization of the situation and hampers the renewal of a normal negotiation process." 
It was precisely aimed to do that.

Stanislav Belkovski believes Romanian president Traian Basescu will implement his plan to dismember Moldova
Transnistria will become independent as a result of Moldova becoming part of Romania, believes Stanislav Belkovski, director of the Moscow-based Institute of National Strategy. His opinion is the more interesting in that he is a figure of no little importance in the process, being the author of the "Belkovski Plan" no less.
According to Belkovski, after two years and three months after the presentation of the "Belkovski Plan" in Bucharest in June 2004, its implementation process continues to take place - informally, but permanently. 
"The Romanian administration, headed by president Traian Basescu is actually acting according to the logic of this plan even though, naturally, this does not take place at a formal level," believes Stanislav Belkovski. 
Belkovski mentioned, that Transnistria can become a part of Russia not earlier than 10 years after the Transnistrian Moldovan Republic would become an independent state. "And it will become an independent country only after the implementation of the 'Belkovski Plan'," declared the Russian political analyst. 
The plan to dismember Moldova was proposed in 2004, first in Bucharest, afterwards in Odessa. According to the "Belkovski Plan," "a union between Bessarabia and Romania and a concomitant recognition of Transnistria's right to self-determination would satisfy the interests of all the peoples in the region. The annexing of Bessarabia according to the reunification model of West and East Germany would give a powerful impetus to the national development and would practically allow Romania to escape its contemporary "state of national depression." 
At the beginning of June, Romanian president Traian Basescu publicly declared that "Romania is the only country, the only state, that remained divided after the reunification of Germany, and the union between Moldova and Romania will take place within the European Union." 
Moldovan president, Vladimir Voronin, commented on these declarations by saying that there are no perspectives for a reunification between Moldova and Romania. 
He said, "architects of such scenarios, no matter where they come from - Tiraspol or Bucharest - must understand the impossibility of such fantasies." 

Moldavian economy ministry: There will be no "revolution" in Moldavian economy 
To turn to more mundane matters, a new concept of social-economic development, based on a strategy of attraction of investments and promotion of exports for 2006-2011, has been devised by the Ministry of Economy and Trade. It was represented on September 11th in Chisinau, a REGNUM correspondent reported. "The matter concerns no revolution at all, we pose as a problem guaranteeing continuity," Minister of Economy and Trade Valery Lazer said. 
According to the minister, the Moldavian economy has not achieved the objectives posed beforehand; that is why, a new structural approach is necessary. "Imbalance is evident in the economy, starting from unequal regional development and finishing by worsening of several micro-economical indices," Mr Lazer said. 
Chisinau hopes that foreign investment's share in GDP will increase by up to 25%-30%, direct foreign investment growth rate will total 10% annually, it will be possible to keep the deficit of current budget at most at a 6% level and exports will annually increase by 10%-15%. These, it might be said, are fantasies, especially in so exact a form. 
But this is not President Voronin's view. Speaking at the Moldavian parliament, he stated that the Republic of Moldova "needs an industrial revolution" and called on MPs not to be afraid of radicalism of his proposals. "One should not be afraid of economic freedoms. We should carefully use economic freedoms, following other countries' experience. The more freedoms we have, the more the competitiveness of Moldavian goods increases," Mr Voronin said. 
Here is a very different outlook on things to that of the president, expressed by the author of the following:-

Director of Transnistria Institute of History, State and Law: "Moldavia is already Romania"
Speaking at a conference "Humanitarian and legal referendum aspects. A Tiraspol outlook" held September 12th at the International Press Centre in Tiraspol, the director of the Institute of History, State and Law, Ilya Galinsky, said that "about 100,000 residents of Moldavia have already voiced their wish to receive Romanian citizenship, upon which president of Romania, Traian Basescu, promised that 'his brothers become citizens of the European Union.'"
A REGNUM correspondent reports that Ilya Galinsky recalled the so-called "Stanislav Belkovsky plan" in which the author mentioned that only by entering Romania and renouncing Transnistria would Moldavia be able to solve her political and economic problems.
"For the past 15 years, thousands of young people from Moldavia have received training in Romanian universities and colleges. Today, it is them who compose the young political elite of Moldavia. Pro-Western politicians, leaders of parties and non-governmental organizations of the Republic of Moldova have been convincing the population that it is exactly entering Romania that will solve all the problems and allow them to become residents of Europe. In this sense we can already speak of Moldavia being a part of Romania."
"I also want to remind you of the words of the renowned and influential Moldavian politician Oazu Nantoi who said that he 'does not see any obstacles for Moldova's entering Romania.' Nantoi said at the same time, speaking to Transnistria residents: 'Every resident of Transnistria will have to find their place either in the Constitution of Moldavia or in the Criminal Code of Moldavia.' Each Transnistria resident must constantly keep these words in mind, remembering the future envisioned for them by Chisinau," Galinsky said.
The following is a Russian view of the result of the referendum in Transdniestr on September 17th:- 

The Old Guard Wins in Transnistria 
The results of the referendum in Transnistria were released on September 18th. Ninety-seven per cent of the residents of the unrecognised republic voted in favour of unification with Russia. President of Transnistria Igor Smirnov announced that he is running for another term. The referendum vote has shown that a tense battle for power has broken out in the unrecognised republic, and the victory has been garnered by Smirnov's old guard. Kommersant has a special report by Vladimir Solovyev and Mikhail Zygar. 

Love's Price
They don't love Russian anywhere as much as they do in Transnistria. Love for Russia, which keeps the republic alive, is the official ideology. The 16-year pro-Russian propaganda campaign has prevented the merger of the republic with Moldova, and thus made it possible for them to maintain their influence. Love for Russia is taught in childhood. Schools teach Russian history and Transnistrian history, without even a mention of Moldovan history. 
"We teach children in the lessons who they are, who their ancestors are and where their allies are," Tiraspol schoolteacher Zinaida Georgievna, said. "That is very important for the republic. In the ethnic plan, there is almost no difference between the population of Moldova and Transnistria. There is almost an identical proportion of Moldovans, Russians and Ukrainians. But an important factor that is useful for distinguishing us is that we love Russia."
In the 16 years of the republic's existence, a generation has grown up that believes that that land was always Russian and had never voluntarily been associated with Moldova. 
The republic's pro-Russian stance has played an even more important role in domestic politics. There are dozens of parties and movements in the republic that are in favour of joining Russia. An Anti-Russia force is unthinkable, for any criticism of Russia is political suicide. 
But the referendum has shown that Transnistrian society is not united in its love for Russia. A serious struggle for power has begun and, as a consequence, for the love of Russia. Various political forces are trying to show that they love Russia more than the next one. 
"Love for Russia is now being converted into money," says Russia State Duma member Viktor Alksnis, who is in Tiraspol as an election observer. "Love of Russia has become a condition for doing business in Transnistria. But that love is very undependable."

Love's Struggle
"Our fighting power is comparable to that of Moldova and we are ready to rebuff any aggression," says Gen. Oleg Gudymo, one of the founders of the Transnistrian special services. He was long the deputy to Transnistrian Minister of State Security, Vladimir Antyufeev. The efforts of the security agencies are responsible in large part for isolating the republic from its neighbours. Transnistria has powerful state security and a well-equipped army. When it conducts exercises, the likely opponent is always seen as Moldova.
For its entire existence, Transnistrian authorities have done everything they could to separate themselves from Moldova. A separate banking system was established with its own currency, the Transnistrian rouble. Two years ago, Transnistria separated from Chisinau energy services and created its own gas transport company, Tiraspoltransgaz, which was later bought by Gazprom. Transnistrian railroads have been disconnected, and their cellular phones operate on the CDMA standard instead of GSM, as in Moldova.
The self-isolation has been profitable not only to the authorities and special services, but to businesses close to them as well. At the beginning of the 1990s, Viktor Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly left the special services to form the Sheriff firm. In time, Sheriff concentrated all profitable private business: petroleum products, retail, wholesale, telecommunications, media. The company was cooperative with the authorities from the start ad supported the Smirnov regime any way it could. And the favour was returned. Sheriff does not pay taxes to the republic, nor import duties to the customs service, run by Smirnov's son Vladimir.
Transnistria's isolation has nonetheless become unprofitable to Sheriff. The indeterminate status of the region has slowed the monopoly's growth and made it impossible for it to enter outside markets. International recognition of the republic would be the ideal solution to the problem. The Renewal movement was founded a few years ago with Sheriff's support. It favours independence, liberalization of the economy and limited presidential power. Renewal received a majority in last year's parliamentary elections and has begun to crowd in on the old guard. The first thing Renewal members did was to retire speaker of the Supreme Council Grigory Marakutsa, who came to power with Smirnov. His place was taken by Renewal leader Evgeny Shevchuk. Understanding that Moscow's approval is essential to meet their goal, Shevchuk has become a frequent visitor there. He is also preparing for the December presidential elections.

Love's Rejection
The conservative elements in the Transnistrian leadership are frightened by the young reformers, who have taken away their monopoly on access to Moscow. Shevchuk's independent contacts with the republic's Russian managers were taken as a challenge. With the reformers' money and Kremlin access, the old veterans will soon be unneeded. Smirnov and his circle consider it a real threat and used their Moscow connections for a counterattack and Alksnis read a report in the Duma that accused Shevchuk and Sheriff of plotting a coup d'etat in Transnistria. 
"We first received information that Sheriff was making an attempt to come to power a year ago," Alksnis recounts, "They wanted to take control of the parliament and gradually reduce the power of the president. I have information that the leaders of that company made an agreement with Moldovan authorities on an exchange. Chisinau will allow them to legalize their business and Sheriff will carry out a soft integration with Moldova."
Accusations of secret ties to Moldova are a frontal assault. Collaboration with Moldova is unforgivable for anybody. Shevchuk and Sheriff launched their own counteroffensive. Using material from a parliamentary commission that audited the results of privatisation, Shevchuk sent the Russian Duma information on Alksnis's personal interests in the privatisation of the Moldovan Electric Station. That material was forwarded to the Russian Prosecutor General's Office, which, however, did not initiate a case based on it.
After Moscow thought up the referendum, the veterans and reformers got ready for a fight. Moscow needed the referendum to pressure Chisinau and Kiev, but the Transnistrians decided to get some benefit from it as well. The reformers saw it as a step toward recognition and thus legalization of their capital. The conservatives saw it as a worsening of relations with Moldova, which they counted on to strengthen the status quo. Both sides wanted the exclusive right to organize the referendum for the points it would earn them in the upcoming presidential elections. The first skirmish in that battle was won by the reformers, as a result of which the word "independence" appeared on the ballot next to the phrase "unification with Russia."
But the conservatives had better connections in Moscow and they received its support. Shevchuk was summoned to Moscow and advised not to horn in too far. Then the movement For Unity with Russia was founded under the leadership of the president's man Foreign Minister Valery Litskai, who hinted freely at his loyalty to the Kremlin. Transnistrian businesses that had been privatised into Russian hands supported the group. 
"We have Russian monopolies in every city," Litskai told Kommersant. "Before, there was no tendency to give money for the formation of political projects… Of course, the monopolists called Moscow and asked what to do."
Shevchuk disappeared from the television screen in Transnistria and, according to information obtained by Kommersant, Russian state media were ordered not to mention him either. He was even hard to find on the day of the referendum. Smirnov, meanwhile, was proposing hat Russian and Transnistrian financial, economic and tax laws be harmonized.
He voted in the village of Rybnitsa, far from the crowds of journalists in Tiraspol. "Everyone heard aide to the president of Russia Sergey Prikhodko say that the territorial integrity of Moldova is an imperative," he noted. "So there will be no unification with Russia tomorrow."

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ENERGY

INTER RAO UES not planning to sell power plant

Russia's Inter RAO UES, which imports and exports Russian electricity, is not planning to sell its subsidiary Moldova State District Power Plant, Alexander Syskov, the plant's director general, said in an interview with the Pridnestovye newspaper.
"No one is selling or planning to sell the Moldova State District Power Plant," he said.
If Russia hadn't bought the plant, "it would hardly be working today," Syskov said. "The company paid a lot (US$101m) to acquire the plant, but none of the shareholders have received a kopeck of profit yet," he said.
"At least US$1m every month alone is spent on fulfilling those obligations that the company took upon itself when it bought the enterprise. At least US$200,000 a month is used to cover expenses for operational activity alone. Even in such a difficult period no one wanted to get rid of the enterprise and didn't resell it. This means that the Russian shareholders plan to get a firm foothold here," he said.
"The difficult times are ending," since the plant is finishing up repairs on four generating units which should help the station's economic development, Syskov said.
As long as Ukraine sells electricity to Moldova at a price of 2.50 cents for one kilowatt-hour, Chisinau won't buy power from the plant at 4 cents, he said. "Therefore this issue is currently being resolved with Russia. President Vladimir Putin has said that Russia needs approximately 50bn kilowatt-hours. We are prepared to fulfil these losses.
"The Moldovan State District Power Plant has made an application and it is being reviewed. Therefore, we will turn at least three generating units for Russia, which is why we are rushing to bring them into order," Syskov said. 

 

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