Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Moldavian economy ministry: There will be no "revolution" in
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
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
"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.
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
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."
"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
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.
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."
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
"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.