Books on Moldova
Leu (plural: Lei)
Update No: 300 - (01/01/06)
The true champion of his country
When the incumbent president of the Republic of Moldova, Vladimir Voronin, was
re-elected for a second term by the country's parliament in March, 2005, 75
parliamentarians supported Voronin's candidacy, while only one voted for the
opposition candidate Georgy Duka. An election on March 6th saw the return of the
ruling Communist Party of Moldova, which Voronin heads.
The 63-year-old leader of the Communist Party of Moldova was first elected
president in April 2001. He is a truly popular figure, who is standing up for
his country against Russia and is trying unavailingly to get back Transnistria,
the mainly Russian-populated enclave between Moldova and Ukraine on the left
bank of the Dnestr River. It is symbolically appropriate that it should be on
the left bank, as it is a leftist left-over from the USSR, ruled by a Stalinist
thug and master-criminal, who glories in the name of Igor Smirnov. The enclave
survives on smuggling and is a refuge for Russian mafiosi.
Moscow is insisting on keeping thousands of troops there, which could be quickly
reinforced if need be. The Moldovans know this and are averse to using force,
anyway, having suffered enough in the 1992 war over the issue.
A breakthrough of sorts came at the end of October when, acting on an initiative
of Ukraine's, Moldova and Transnistria agreed to resume talks about the enclave
holding fair elections. In December it held elections without foreign observers,
since its independence has no international recognition anywhere and only exists
as a de facto satellite of Russia which does not diplomatically 'recognise' it
The new idea is to hold elections later under the scrutiny of the Organisation
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), whose Moldova director, William
Hill, welcomed the proposal.
Wintry days ahead
One of the consequences of the spat with Russia is that Moscow made it clear
just before the March election, that as of 2006 Moldova would have to pay double
the present price for its gas supplies, US$70 per 1,000 cu m. It is reliant on
Russia for 5m cu m per year. There is no obvious alternative.
The poor Moldovans, poor in every sense (Moldova has taken over from Albania the
dubious distinction of being the poorest country in Europe), are going to be
having a rough time of it this winter.
The Russian decision was coupled with a ban on Moldovan spirits and tobacco, a
free present to the Transnistria smugglers. It coincided with a lifting of
travel-free visas for the one million Moldovans living in Russia. This crude
attempt at arm-twisting back-fired at the polls. As we have seen, Voronin was
re-elected handsomely by the parliament, itself still with the Communist Party
Moldova not menaced by energy crisis this winter - says Voronin
Voronin asserts that no energy crisis will threaten Moldova this winter, even
though power supplies from the Cuciurgan Power Station have ceased and the
Russian natural gas suppliers intend to increase prices. The head of state says
that both decisions are of a political nature.
In an interview broadcast by PRO TV Chisinau channel, the chief of state
mentioned that Moldova produces 30-35 per cent of the electric power it
consumes. About 70 per cent of the necessary electricity will be imported from
the nuclear power stations of Ukraine, and Romania will provide electric power
for the settlements from the south of the country, which are located near the
high tension lines through which the neighbouring state transports electric
Russian gas price should be cut, Moldovan PM says
Moldova will insist on cutting the current price for Russian gas, the country's
Prime Minister, Vasily Tarlev, told journalists in Chisinau. Two years ago the
Moldovan government and Gazprom agreed that the price would be decreased in the
event that the republic began to make 100% payments for gas.
Tarlev underscored that Moldova had paid for the gas it consumed in full for the
second year in a row. He also reiterated that the republic had bought Russian
gas for US$80 per 1,000 cubic meters since 1996. Up to now, this has been the
highest tariff in the CIS. The country's government and Gazprom are now holding
consultations on the 2006 gas contract in Moscow, the premier added.
Moldova starts exporting oil products
Moldova has begun exporting domestically-produced oil-derived products for the
first time, the country's ministry of industry and infrastructure said recently,
Ria Novosti has reported.
According to the ministry, 250 metric tonnes of the M-40 fuel oil and 70 tonnes
of industrial oil produced at the AS Petrol Moldova refinery by the REDECO-Moldova
company have been exported to Bulgaria. AS Petrol Moldova opened half a year ago
and is the country's only refinery. Its current annual capacity is 30,000 tonnes
of oil-derived products, which will be increased to 150,000 tonnes. These oil
products were produced at the AS-Petrol-owned oil refinery in Komrat, the first
oil refinery in Moldova, noted RBC news service. AS Petrol managers said the oil
products had not been sold in Moldova because there was no demand for them on
the domestic market at the time. The Komrat oil refinery, with a capacity of
25,000 tonnes of oil a year, was able to fully satisfy Moldova's need for fuel
oil, AS Petrol officials said.
Romania considers electricity for Moldova power crisis
A senior Romanian official said recently that his government was considering
sending assistance to Moldova to head off a simmering electricity crisis. The
announcement, made by Romanian Economics Minister, Codrut Ceres at a Chisinau
press conference, came less than a week after a Russian company controlling
Moldova's only power generation station cut off electricity deliveries to the
former Soviet republic, New Europe reported.
The switch-off was justified by Moscow-headquartered RAO EES as the only
alternative to producing power at a loss. The decision has threatened to leave
all Moldova without electricity. "Romania is participating in talks about
delivering electricity to Moldova," Ceres said. "Nothing has been
decided yet, and no contracts have been signed… but Romania is prepared to
send electricity to prevent a crisis." A deal whereby Moldova traded
natural gas to Romania for electricity was under active discussion, he said.
Moldova is in debt to the Russian natural gas giant Gazprom, but deliveries
continue. Moldova might also cover its electricity needs by paying cash for
power produced in Romania or in neighbouring Ukraine, Ceres said.
World Bank grants Moldova almost US$10m
The International Development Association (IDA) that belongs to the WB Group
is set to allot a cheap loan and a government grant worth US$4.9m each to
Moldova to finance a project aimed at enhancing the republic's competitive edge,
A source in the Moldovan government said that the loan and the grant were
stipulated by the credit agreement signed by IDA and Moldovan government
representatives in Washington on November 14th 2005. The loan is to be provided
for a term of 40 years with a ten-year grace period and an annual interest rate
of 0.35 per cent.