IS TRANSNISTRIA THE KEY TO THE CAUCASUS?
by Paolo SARTORI
If the secessionist republic â€“ which is in the hands of the Russian mafia â€“ obtains independence, it could build on the past similar aspirations of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. However, in Tiraspol, the competition for power burns hot. Under the attentive eye of Moscow.
1. On July 6th of 2006, during a bright and sunny summer day in the centre of Tiraspol â€“ the capital of the Pridnstrovskaja Moldovskaja Respublika, which has de facto independence that is not recognized by the international community as the Trans-Dniester Moldovan Republic1 â€“ came the explosion of a bomb with an electromagnetic detonator inside a minibus being used for transport in an urban area. The explosion was extremely violent hurling a tram â€“ which at the time was travelling through the neighbour â€“ into the buildings near it, breaking traffic lights, destroying telephone lines and knocking out the electrical system for the entire neighbourhood. The attack caused the death of eight people and injured thirty passengers. Among them were two Russian soldiers stationed in Transnistria belonging to the 14th Operative Group. Armed, the united ex-soviet military, today arranges Russian exercises â€“ that at the beginning of the â€˜90â€™s â€“ was commanded by General Aleksandr Lebed, who participated actively in the civil war that burst on to the shore of the Dniester, which ended creating a de facto division in the territory of Moldova and gave birth to a separatist Transnistrian rÃ©gime. (1)
In consideration for the gravity of the attack, the first reaction of the rÃ©gime was to ask for aid from its Russian friends, in particular, to ask for help from the anti-terrorism experts of the Federalnaja Sluzhba Besopasnoti or the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB), the secret service that, in the epoch of post-sovietism, has taken responsibility and inherited the KGB. They were sent immediately from Moscow to a small Transnistrian enclave to coordinate investigations, for about a month, in total discretion. The men from Moscow examined their findings and probed all of the hypothetical investigative trails. One of the things that links them all is the propaganda of the rÃ©gime led by the separatist president Igor Smirnov and lists the secret services of the Republic of Moldova as â€œpublic enemy number one,â€ also known as the Serviciul de Informatii si Securitate, even without coming to a concrete conclusion.
On Sunday, the 13th of August, always in the centre of the Transnistrian capital, one or two individuals â€“ the recounted testimonies differ â€“ placed inside a public tram on the B-2 Line three RGD-5 model grenades (Russian made). Only one of them exploded; causing the death of a fifty year old man, a six year old baby girl and wounded ten others in the attack.
The aggressiveness of the situation and the close proximity of these two events for the political future of the de facto rÃ©gime â€“ the referendum for the independence of Transnistria is planned for September 17th, 2006 followed by presidential elections, forecasts for the following 10th of December â€“ they [FSB experts] advised Moscow to send other FSB experts to Transnistria to join the others that are already at work in Tiraspol, while categorically rejecting any form of help from other countries. Despite their findings, nothing concrete has emerged from the investigations on the first attack, which took place on July 6th. Now concerning the second terrorist attack, the pool of judges in Transnistria announced October 6th that they have found an individual who was responsible, 49 year old Sergej Kapustin. Kapustin originates from the Transnistrian city, Slobozia. Nothing, until now, has leaked about the motivations that would have driven the presumed individual to commit such an action, further, there was no claim from any extremist movement in relation to the two attacks, so it does not seem that they [the scientific police] have gathered substantial evidence that correlates.
The two terrorist attacks â€“ not including the previous civil war from 1991 to 1992 â€“ has immediately provoked the worsening of the control measures and preventions in all the secessionist region, with more random searches and restrictions to the already strict norms that regulate the entry into Transnistria (today, the few western foreigners authorized to enter for tourism cannot stay, even under normal conditions, for more that three hours).
2. The more penetrating political analysis on Transnistria show that the two attackers re-entered the country in a complex political fashion, probably contrived and put into action from the political formation, Obnovleniye (Renewal), since the recent constitution, which makes reference to the pro-Russian entrepreneurs that have emerged in the separatist region in the last few years (2). Also while being openly hostile to the reigning â€œpresidentâ€ of Transnistria, Igor Smirnov, â€“ not just when he had come to form a part of the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet â€“ Obnovleniye has obtained the resignation of the Minister of Justice, Viktor Balala, a man close to Smirnov. The strategy of tension that would come from this political group would destabilize the region, first by weakening and delegitimizing the Minister of National Security, Vladimir Antufeev, who was the powerful ex-Director of the KGB (3).
This man, since the beginning of â€˜90â€™s, when he arrived Transnistria, has had a fundamental role in guaranteeing the stability of power for Smirnov, in particularly creating the Guards of the Frontier, which are the foundations of security for the separatist territory; moreover, he has been the craftsman of the arrest of members of the “Ilascu group,” (4) two of which, Andrei Ivantoc and Tudor Petrov â€“ were accused of acts of terrorism in the final phases of the conflict in mid-1992 â€“ they are still kept in Transnistrian prisons.
From 1992, Antufeev has remained the head of the ill-famed MGB (the Ministry for the Security of the State)5 and he is considered the brains behind the system of arms production in Transnistria. The illegal international traffic-kicking that derives from and managed from Tiraspol â€“ in connection with trans-national organized crime â€“ makes this separatist territory the focal point of potentially dangerous instabilities in the world, even more if one considers the fact that it is approximately 150 kilometres from what â€“ on January 1, 2007 â€“ will be the newly integrated Romania in our EU community. It will orientate Transnistria near the confines of the European Union.
Arms for mafia and terrorism
At least 13 industrial units of Transnistria, under the cover of ordinary productive activities, constantly are used for the fabrication of arms,(6) in some cases they are assembled abroad and illegally sold to mafia organizations and terrorist movements, let alone to countries that, for necessity or strategic reasons, supply the black market. Moreover, in the past few years, elements have been collected that could prove thepresence of non-conventional weapons in Transnistria, and prove that these weapons have been sold to international terrorist groups and organized crime.
The Smirnov family (7), Vladimir Antufeev and their entourage are accused of giving protection to criminals of every type, who have found shelter and alliances in Transnistria. They have strengthened their relationship, in particularly, with the Russian mafia organization, Solncevo, (8) for whom they supply cover and protection in Tiraspol; in fact, they work together in performing illicit activities, in particularly those connected to the traffic-kicking of arms, materials, military equipment, narcotics etc., operating through the only Transnistrian society â€“ called Sheriff â€“ which authorizes them by a presidential decree to trade with other countries in exemption of taxes and customs. Always under their direct control is â€“ even if pertaining to the 14th Operative Group â€“ the military warehouse of Colbasna, which is near Rybnita in the north of Transnistria. It is situated on approximately 132 hectares, where they have stowed for some years now, approximately 42,000 tons of arms, ammunitions and former-Soviet war materials. Actually, there remained about 20,000 arms â€“ even after the Russian military returned home9 â€“ that was stolen and sold illicitly in various parts of the world.
The NATO Secretary General, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, at the end of October, went to Moscow in order to discuss the problem and to request, urgently, the transfer of the war material still stowed in Transnistria to the Russian Federation. This centralization of power has provoked much hostility against Antufeev. Recently, there has been a remarkable political resistance that has manifested against the power of the former director of the KGB â€“ a few years ago this would have been unimaginable. In particular, the President of the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet, Yevgeny Shevchuk, aroused a fuss on September 27th when he asked the permanent Committee for the Supreme Soviet for Defence, Security and Peacekeeping to prepare, in one months time and in collaboration with the MGB, to report on all activities. The President of the Supreme Soviet has missed the fact, however, that, since its creation, the Ministry for the Security of the State of Transnistria has never produced a budget or a report on its past activities. It is obvious that Shevchuk could not have conceived such a move without determined guarantees and the unconditional support from supporters of a certain â€˜renewal,â€™ even if there is the continuity of a precise geopolitical reason, which remains under the umbrella and the protection of “motherland” Russia. He wants to clear up some considerable factors of political fossilization, economic stagnation and the inability to make headway because of the manifested recession due to the introduction of the new customs tax by the Moldova Republic and the Ukraine after the start of Eubam (10) and their substitution of means that are still agreeable to Moscow, but at the same time, are more dynamic in the development of new initiatives in field of industrialization and trade.
3. Also one can see the results of referendum on the 17th of September, which is not recognized by the international community but organized under Russian protection (11) and one knows the Transnistrian populationâ€™s opinion on possible solutions of “frozen” conflict with Moldova, since the presidential elections are on December 10th 2006. It was handled the same way during the sixth referendum that was organized in Transnistria in 1990, none of which were ever recognized by the international community with the only exception being Russia.
The separatist rÃ©gime presented the fundamental foundation for the road leading to the independence of Transnistria, which lies in the permanent sphere of Russian influence. This referendum was carried out in a climate of the strictest measures for security; it was tied to governmental dispositions in favour of more ample voting participation. It was carried out in perfect Soviet-style: buses and the majority of public transportation was free, there was the closing of all public offices and markets, while there was the distribution of warm meals, food and drinks near most of the 262 electoral seats up for election, 52 of which were located in Tiraspol.
The amount of participation in the election â€“ based on the data supplied by the President of the Central Electoral Commission in Transnistria, Piotr Denisenko â€“ stated that, approximately, 306,000 people participated, which is 78.6 % of 389,000 people that have the right to vote. The two questions, for which the inhabitants of Transnistria had been called, were to express their opinion: “Do you think it is possible to safeguard the way towards international acknowledgment of the Trans-Dniester Moldovan Republic and its freedom from the successive adhesion of the Russian Federation?” and “Do you think it is possible to announce the independence of the Trans-Dniester Moldovan Republic with the consequential annexation from the Republic of Moldova?”
To the first question 2.3% voted â€˜Noâ€™. To the second question they voted â€˜Noâ€™ by 94.6%, with 2% of the ballots left blank. The crushing majority voted in favour of integration with the Russian Federation, in spite of the fact that it could bring consequences but not immediately.12 However, it has given the cue to the leadership of Tiraspol â€“ and the most important thing for President Smirnov â€“ to resolve the political ambitions of the supporters that confront the Republic of Moldova. Foreign analysis of the referendumâ€™s geopolitical consequences points to the fact that “the results of the referendum are, overall, a reaction by the people because of threats, an economic blockade and the continual struggle with the international community that subdues the Transnistrian people.”
The “syndrome from encirclement” seems more and more to characterize the frantic geopolitical design that the Transnistrian rÃ©gime keeps pushing ahead for in the recent months. It [the Transnistrian rÃ©gime] is searching for a way to escape from the isolationism and from the economic crisis that is gripping it. It has forged ahead forcing the Russian Federation to take the road of formal acknowledgment, while finding some unexpected doors open.(13) On the military side of things, instead, Smirnov has asked for a particular amount of soldiers from Moscow and he has also asked for a peacekeeping force.(14) Beyond that, there appears to be a meaningfulsearch underway to find consensus and to form alliances by those rÃ©gimes that â€“ because of their shared nature as â€œnot being recognized as a state entity,” examples being Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
4. It is this last aspect that arouses worry in several countries like Moldova and Georgia, who are very interested in the development of these events. There is also fear in Azerbaijan that the Nagorno-Karabakh can also lean in that direction. Already, during the conflict in Abkhazia from 1992 to 1993, the rÃ©gime in Tiraspol has sent â€“ to support of the secessionists â€“ the assault groups Tdes and Delfin, which are both a part of the Dniester battalion of the Ministry of the Interior. In 1994, Transnistria, South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Nagorno-Karabakh have been associated in a finalized agreement to coordinate their own political initiatives, with provisions of mutual assistance in several sectors, in particularly with military assistance during situations of armed conflict. In 2000, there was a conference between the “Ministers of Foreign Relations” of Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh to give more vigour to the agreements of 1994, which had remained substantially lacking in application. Afterwards, Nagorno-Karabakh was protected silently, since there was more and more pressing influence from Russia on the politics of the separatist Caucasus enclaves, which were not in tune with the position of Armenia, who was the supporter of the local, autonomously proclaimed rÃ©gime.
In June 2005, about two thousand “volunteers” came from Transnistria and Abkhazia through the Russian territory of South Ossetia, in order to give assistance to the separatist rÃ©gime that was conflicting with Georgia. From then, there were various agreements of cooperation at the bilateral or the trilateral level between these autonomously proclaimed republics. The last agreement was signed at the end of July by the Minister of the Economy of Transnistria, Yelena Chernenko, and by the Vice Prime Minister of Abkhazia, Aleksandr Stranichkin. The agreement previews initiatives of cooperation of a social-economic nature, involving mainly industries, tourism, pharmaceuticals and not excluding the education and commerce sectors, which established one especially privileged bilateral rÃ©gime.
Going further, it [the agreement] started an exchange of information regarding projects that were implemented jointly with the Russian Federation. Yet the most meaningful part of the agreement from a political perspective is â€“ without a doubt â€“ the creation of the “Parliamentary Assembly of the Non-Recognized States.” The agreement was signed September 29th in Sukhumi, which is the capital of Abkhazia, by three speakers of the assemblies from Transnistria (Evgheny Shevchuk), Abkhazia (Nugzar Ashuba) and South Ossetia (Tarzan Koikota). The agreement established that the seat of the new organism would be situated in Moscow. The Assembly will be presided, which will rotate each year, by the presidents of the assemblies of the three separatist republics, which will be reviewed at least twice a year in Moscow. The first, recently, adopted concrete measure was to create a communal peacekeeping force.
These aggressive acts that â€“ with the consent of Moscow â€“ characterize the foreign politics of the autonomously proclaimed territories and those of the non-recognized secessionist republics that have provoked more stiff initiatives that have escalated tensions and have further destabilized the area. While commenting on the outcome of the referendum in Transnistria and the similar one taking place in South Ossetia on November 12th, the Chairman of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), Karel de Gucht, the Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs, declared that none of the two separatist territories â€“ including Abkhazia â€“ can boast the necessary requirements in order to demand independence.
While the Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Russian Federation, Sergej Lavrov, was taking part the 61st session of the United Nations General Assembly, he stated that is was “counter productive” to discuss the “frozen conflicts” in a forum â€“ the United Nations, for example â€“ where Transnistria, Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabahk were not represented.(15) For this reason, the relevance of an imminent announcement of independence for Kosovo is accompanied by a chain reaction that would compromise the attempt to find a solution to the “frozen conflicts” of the post-Soviet territories, which could guarantee the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, Georgia and Azerbaijan. All of these worries are the work of, in the course of the United Nations General Assembly, the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Borys Tarasyuk, who stated the dangers that the “independence of Kosovo â€“ If looked at in direct correlation with the situations of the separatist Caucasus republics â€“ can represent a possible model for the separatist rÃ©gimes and for those supporting them.â€(16)
The President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, instead, affirmed the official position of Moscow by supporting the territorial integrity of the former-Soviet country, emphasizing â€œthe right for people to have self-determinationâ€ and it is this reason for which we must search for a proper solution. Sure, we will follow all previous international events carefully, including Kosovo.”(17)
Clearly, the position of the United States â€“ which favours the independence of Kosovo, let alone considering the geopolitical significance of the Black Sea and the Caucasus in global terms â€“ is a large part of their alliance, which tries to prevent the collapse of the former-Soviet area.
In the meantime, they continue initiatives to reach a solution to the Transnistrian conflict. The negotiations â€“ that were abruptly interrupted in March by the leadership of Tiraspol, still tried to enter into a customs agreement presented by the Ukraine and the Moldova Republic â€“ were timidly resumed October 17th in Odessa, in a 3 + 2 format. Those present were negotiators from Russia, the Ukraine, OSCE and observers from the EU and the United States. The representatives of the parties that participated in the conflict were present separately, all of which were expressing contrasting positions: Valery Litskay, the “Minister of Foreign Affairs” for Trasnistrian, has agreed to participate in the resumption of negotiations for a common agreement on a transit protocol that would allow registered groups in Transnistria to export their own goods without the interference of Moldavian customs that Tiraspol has come to define as a true â€œeconomic embargo.” This request was absolutely unacceptable for Moldova, which confirmed sending the negotiator from Chisinau, the Minister for Reintegration, Vasile Sova.
These interruptions have affected the electoral campaigns for the presidential elections for Transnistria on December 10th. Right now, in fact, they have announced alternative candidates â€“ not just old facades, like in the past â€“ like Igor Smirnov. For example, there is Andrey Safonov, who represents the opposition, is the publisher of the daily paper, Novaia Gazeta, founder of the official press agency of the Transnistria Olvia Press and who is the former Minister of Education, Sciences and Culture: this is absolutely new. Yet there is one that should be feared, the President of the Supreme Soviet, Evgheny Shevchuk, who is an important element of Obnovleniye. His candidature could dim the plebiscite that, for the past fifteen years, has constantly accompanied the proclamation of Igor Smirnov and the presidency of the Transnistria.
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1 The historical-political evolution has characterized the Transnistrian territory and Moldova from the beginning of the XXÂ° century however today they are much more complex. The main stages: 12th of October 1924 – Transnistria was actually a territory of the Ukraine which became the Moldavian Socialist Soviet Republic (MSSR), with the declared scope to annex Bessarabia in the future. The capital of the MSSR is Tiraspol; 1940: USSR annexes the Bessarabia constructing the MSSR; Between 1941 and 1944, the Bessarabia becomes a territory in Romania, which leaves Transnistria; 1944: the entire territory is re-annexed by the Soviet Union; 31 August 1989 â€“ It adopted the Romanian language, written in Latin characters, becoming the official language; March 1990 â€“ Victory for the Popular Front â€“ a coalition close to Romania â€“ they then adopt a new state flag much similar to that of Romaniaâ€™s; 23rd of June 1990 – Declaration of self-determination and the supremacy of legislation in Moldova regarding the Soviet Union; 27th of August 1990 – Declaration of independence of the Moldova; 2nd of September 1991 – Proclamation in Tiraspol by the Moldova Republic of Transnistria, with adhesion to the USSR; Autumn 1991 – Beginning of the conflict between the Civil Guard of Transnistria supported by the 14th Operation Group. The Transnistria, then a part of the Moldova Republic, occupies the bank to the east of the river Nistru (Dnestr in the Russian language) that goes for approximately 816 km. With 4,136 squared kilometres of surface, it represents about 11% of the entire national territory of Moldova, where approximately 554,000 people live (of which approximately 300,000 have Moldavian citizenship and 100,000 with Russian citizenship). The Transnistria claims to be sovereign from Moldova, which causes a very violent armed conflict that continued from 1991-92. It caused nearly the death of a thousand men, a great part of which came from the civil population. This territory currently is governed by men of Russian origin, nearly all are former members of the KGB – first of all, like Igor Smirnov â€“ who has adopted the old Soviet system like those within the political-administrative. Generally, the motivations of the conflict come back to the issues of the ethnic-political character â€“ represented by fear â€“ of the population that has Russian and Ukrainian origins. The triggering cause of the civil war is truly geopolitical in nature. The conflict has been in fact tacitly justified by “necessity,” from the Russian side, to maintain political control of the Republic of Moldova and remaining an outpost near the European Union and NATO.
2 Currently, of the 43 members of the Supreme Soviet of Transnistria, there are 23 that are usinessmen. Six political parties have appeared in Transnistria in the course of 2006. Obnovleniye is a pro-Smirnov Respublika; the Democratic Liberal Party of Transnistria; the Narodnaja Volya Pridnestrivya Party (the Will of the Peopleâ€™s Party of Transnistria), which is pro-Russian, presided over by Oleg Gudymo, President of the Permanent Committee of the Supreme Soviet for Security, Defence and Peacekeeping; the Patriotic Party of Transnistria, presided over by the youngest son of Smirnov, Oleg; the Popular Democratic Proryv Party (Rubble), founded on the base of a homonymous juvenile movement of extreme nationalists managed by Dmitrij Soin, Director of the National Strategy Institute, which is an important network of intelligence gathering and the founder of an extremist group of pro-Russian nationalists based in Tiraspol, called the Russian Hymn. Second, there is a paramilitary unit and this organization â€“ from the public perspective called the Transnistrian Courier â€“ is engaged actively in bolshevist propaganda and an ideology connected with the hatred of ethnic groups and is very nationalistic â€“ it is accused of having participated in the homicides of several people with political backgrounds. For these reasons, let alone with the accusation of having assassinated two people in Tiraspol, in
1995, the Attorney General’s Office of the Republic of Moldova opened an investigation on Dmitrij
Soin, including Vladimir Antufeev, who is accused of covering up for Soin.
3 Vladimir (Vadim) Georgievic Antufeev, former General of the KGB, was born in Novosibirsk (formerly the USSR) on the 19th of February 1951. He uses a Russian passport. Actually, he is identified as Vladimir Georgievic Sevcov. The judicial authority of Latvia has emitted an international arrest warrant for him â€“penal code n. 812095596 â€“ for multiple murders and having caused an armed uprising against the powers of the State. Antufeev was head of a Soviet unit that was stationed in Riga.
4 The most important element of the group, Ilie Ilascu, is a current senator in Romania, who is a member of the Partidul Rumania Mare (Party of the Great Romania) and has been captive in a jail in Transnistria for ten years with a life sentence. He was free for some years yet he never stopped the illicit traffic-kicking and crimes by the separatist leadership in Tiraspol.
5 It is composed of 400 officials, nearly all coming from the Soviet KGB and has approximately 1,500 agents, including numerous foreign collaborators and informants. It has light weapons, anti-riot gear and grenade launchers. It has an annual budget of 40 million dollars and it has the possibility to manage special operations without having to show for it in the budget, not even to President Smirnov.
6 To note Pribor industries, which acts as the official cover of factories for household electronics; the industrial complex Electromash officially takes care of the fabrication of batteries for systems for solar energy; the Metalorucav, situated in Tiraspol, operates with the cover of productive unit for equipment electrical workers; and still Kirov works with electrical appliances and the metallurgical and hydraulic industrial complexes in Rybnita. The range of which there is illegally activity in these industrial complexes varies: they produce series of fine-rocket launcher and assemble Zil 131 and Ural 365 vehicles, which they export to Abkhazia. They also produce portable grenade launchers, SPG-9 tank destroyers, 82 and 120 mm mines, Katran model 50mm mortars. Moreover, they manufacture 9mm MP model guns, 7.62 mm TT, 5.45mm PSMs, AK-47s 7.62mm and 5.45mm, 9mm Tommy guns, SPG-7 Tank Destroyer grenade launchers, Pcela and Gnom grenade launcher models, Vasilioc mortars (which have been found in the possession of rebellious Chechnya), furnished Duga model missile launchers, NPGM-40 model grenade launcher applied on AK-74s, 82mm mortars, anti-personnel PND mines in wooden coverings, 40mm GP-15 grenade nozzles.
7 He is a father, son of Vladimir, President of Customs, currently a member of the Supreme, manages the Gasprombank of Tiraspol, President of the Patriotic Party of Transnistria (PPP) and is a holder of a number of companies in Moscow.
8 That is the Brigade of the Sun, one of the main and one of the most powerful organizations within the Russian mafia. From Moscow â€“ using the Transnistrian situation â€“ they divided into two groups called Transdnjestr-Solncevo, which guarantees the possibility to operate in broad daylight â€“ they work in correlation with other countries of the former Soviet block, particularly with those in the Balkan area. As far as its activities and connections in Italy, the Solncevo Brigade was investigated by Operation Checkmate, which was coordinated by the Anti-Mafia division and conducted by the Central Operative Service of the Police of State from the Criminalpol of Lazio and by teams in Rome and Trento. March 1997 with the arrest – at Madonna di Campiglio, Rome and in other parts of the country â€“ of numerous members of this criminal organization.
9 When OSCE was in Istanbul, in November 1999, it established the removal and complete destruction â€“ by the end of 2001 â€“ of armaments under the CFE Treaty and the total withdrawal of Russian troops from the Moldova Republic by the end of 2002: none of these have been fulfilled.
10 The new customs regulation â€“ passed the 3rd of March 2006 – states that there cannot be anymore Transnistrian recognizable custom seals on goods coming from the Transnistria and exported to foreign countries, in particularly to the Ukraine, the ports of Odessa, Illichivsk and the rest of the world. The direct and immediate consequences of such a decision have been that, from not only being able to export their own products, the registered groups in Transnistria have had the ability to register also in the Moldova Republic. Today, approximately 230 Transnistrian groups have been recorded in Chisinau, 107 are permanent bases, which is about a 90% increase in exports from Transnistria. The Transnistrian leader, President Smirnov, in a press conference on the 31st of August said that the decision has ended the loss of over 267 million dollars in the separatist regions. In a sign of retaliation, Russia decided to suspend the import of Moldavian wine, causing an economic crisis for wine makers, whose products were destined, at the time, to the great Russian market. As a result, the presidents from the Ukraine and Moldova demanded jointly on the 30th of November 2005 to the European Union Border Assistance Mission to Moldova and the Ukraine (Eubam). Directed by the General of the Hungarian Police Force, Ferenc Banfi, and Director of the Seci Centre in Bucharest, the EU has a centre in Odessa and has seven territorial offices, three of which are in the territory of Moldova. Its job was to review the activities of the abilities of the police on the borders and the custom agents of the Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, raise the standards and the operating procedures of those countries to the standards followed by the EU. The Eubam staff is also authorized to carry out operations beyond it Ukrainian/Moldavian border by 1220 km, 470 of which are placed on a segment of Transnistrian controlled territory.
11 According to a released public declaration by the “Minister of Industry” of Transnistria, the referendum on the 17th of September was financed by the Russian Federation with the concession of a 150 million dollar credit (Daily Romeno Ziua, 2/8/2006, pg.7)
12 The same “Minister of Foreign Affairs” of Transnistria, Valery Litskai, in an interview, n.38 in 2006, in the Russian review, Vlast, he emphasized how, in spite of the obvious outcome of the referendum, that it is incorrect to raise the issue of the incorporation of Transnistria into the Russian Federation, also because it would be necessary to have the consent of the Russians, that â€“ even now â€“ has not happened: “For this, it would be necessary to organize a referendum in Russia and in Transnistria, but it is practically delirious to imagine that Russia would organize a referendum on the annexation of Transnistria.” Such declarations have raised fiery controversies within the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet, which could be perceived as a road block on the way to Moscow.
13 On September 20th, upon request of the political party Rodina, Sergej Baburin, Vice President of the Duma of the Russian Federation and the President of the same Duma, Boris Gryzlov, gave a positive opinion on the request for the official visit of President Putin, who supports the acknowledgment of Transnistria. This request was supported also by the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia and its leader Vladimir Å½irinovskij, who proposed to open a Russian consulate in Tiraspol.
14 Actually the operating peacekeeping force in Transnistria is commanded by Russian Colonel Anatoly Zverev. The peacekeeping force is composed of 1,205 men, a third party is Russian, making up two battalions. The contingent, on October 12th, received a visit from the Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs for the Russian Federation, Grigory Karasin. The armed forces and the paramilitary ones of Transnistria are composed of approximately 16,000 soldiers, divided into four brigades of motorized infantry in Tiraspol, Bendery, Rybnita and Dubassary, who are equipped with advanced technology. They have the control of 18 tanks, 107 armoured carriers, 73 guns, 46 anti-aircraft installations and 173 units of tank destroyers. The air force is composed of 9 Mi-8T helicopters, 6 Mi-24 helicopters, 2 Mi-2 helicopters and airplane models An-2, An-26 and Yak-18. The armed forces of the Moldova Republic, instead, are composed of approximately 6,800 men, 3 brigades of motorized infantry, 1 brigade of artillery, 1 brigade of anti-aircraft defences, 1 mixed brigade of aviators, a regiment for logistics, a battalion from intelligence and 3 strike battalions. Also, the Republic of Moldova has armed police officers. Together they have approximately 11,000 soldiers, police and on the border approximately 7,000 soldiers. The crews are equipped with 229 average battleships, 226 range artillery, approximately 30 Mi-8 helicopters and 5 old Vilga-35 airplanes (Polish built).
15 The proposal to discuss, at the seat of the UN, the problem of the â€œfrozen conflictsâ€ was formulated by Guam and an organization that represented Georgia, the Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Moldova.
16 Publishing Agency from the Ukraine Interfax, 22.9.2006.
17 Publishing Agency for the Republic of Moldova Infotag, 25.10.2006.
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