Translated by Ollie Richardson
Transnistria seeks international recognition, but at the same time sees itself in Russia. At the recent presidential elections of the Russian Federation nearly 100% of voters of the Republic voted for the current leader of Russia. The President of Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica Vadim Krasnoselsky spoke about this and many other things in an exclusive interview to the Federal News Agency.
How do you see the future of the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica Republic — as an independent State, as a part of Russia, or another option is possible?
“The seventh public referendum took place on September 17th, 2006, in the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublica. Back then our citizens supported the policy of the republic gaining independence and the subsequent free entry of Transnistria into the structure of the Russian Federation. More than 97% Transnistrians voted ‘yes’. I emphasise – they supported independence and being together with Russia, and not with Moldova. On the basis of our Constitution we can speak only about an independent State — the Pridnestrovskaia Moldavskaia Respublika. We no longer fight for independence any more, since we already achieved it. We are seeking the international recognition of Transnistria.
More than ten years have passed, but today too our citizens see their future as being together with Russia, and only with it. And the results of the last presidential elections of the Russian Federation in Transnistria is yet more proof of this. Well, and the President of the PMR is the guarantor of the will of the people and puts in maximum effort to implementation this will. Why is our choice connected to Russia? Because it is based on our common history, culture, traditions – the foundation of which is the internal spirit of our people. We are tolerant on the basis of our centuries-old tradition of friendship between peoples.
Our neighbours have chosen a different path — the path of creating national, ‘titular’ States. This is a dead-end vector of development. But in Russia, where representatives of about 200 nationalities live, like in Transnistria, this ‘titularity’ is absent. Of course, we are searching for someone who is spiritually close to us, who is international, like we are. This is the meaning of our desire to be with Russia. But in the neighbouring Moldova the Romanian vector has nevertheless been chosen. This is a fact. They have been taught to think in the Romanian language and to understand and accept the Romanian history as their own for 25 years. This is their choice, and we respect this.”
In your opinion, what are main consequences – negative or positive – of the fact that the PMR is still in a “suspended” position, which is essentially a frozen for many years military conflict?
“Every coin has two sides. Having proclaimed the republic in 1990 and defended its independence in the war of 1992, we thereby defended Russians, Ukrainians, Jews, Gagauzians, Bulgarians, and citizens of other nationalities against being turned into ‘second class citizens’, against rabid and militant Romanian nationalism. Today in Transnistria there are three official languages – Moldavian, Russian, and Ukrainian, which reflects the national structure of the population of the country.
Moreover, I will note that the Moldavian language was preserved with primordial Cyrillic characters. We didn’t undergo Romanisation, unlike the neighbouring Moldova. I.e., all the conditions for living in a multinational State were created, where nobody divides you along ethnic lines, where there is no concept of ‘ethnic minorities’. There are many positives. There are also negatives, but I would like to emphasise that their main cause is not the declaration of Transnistria as a State, but the blind unwillingness of the Republic of Moldova to recognise the right of the Transnistrian people to self-determination and the inability to conduct civilised dialogue with us.
You know, we recently calculated how much we’ve lost from the different blockades and economic and political restrictions in view of the unfriendly policy of Moldova? Losses of capital, investments, reputational damage… The numbers are enormous.”
In your opinion, it is possible, under any circumstances, that the conflict can be renewed?
“I will say it directly: while there are Russian peacekeeping soldiers on Transnistria land and under the auspices of Russia the most successful and bloodless peacekeeping operation is being carried out – most likely the only one in world history, then an armed conflict is excluded. However, it is possible to hear demands for the withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria and statements about a ‘neutral Moldova’ almost weekly from the lips of Moldovan politicians. What is indicative is that President Dodon, the parliament, and the Constitutional Court of Moldova are united concerning the topic of ousting Russian military personnel. These statements don’t add a positive to Moldovan-Transnistrian dialogue.
In this regard, I have the same position as the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Grigory Borisovich Karasin, who during a recent working visit to Transnistria said that all statements and resolutions that call to remove the Russian military out of Transnistria are nothing more than exercises in diplomatic art. Everything should be resolved in the existing international formats, via dialogue between Tiraspol and Chișinău. Excessive sharpness in these already difficult questions is not only unnecessary, but also dangerous.”
Will the situation with Russian peacekeepers in Transnistria change somehow? Their status, quantity, the fact of their stay?
“Since 2014 the only way that the military personnel of Russia can come to Transnistria for service is through the airport in Chișinău, where they are regularly subjected to arrests and deportation. This situation causes serious concern. Firstly, it is necessary to observe certain rules concerning the rotation of the peacekeeping contingent, and secondly, once again, Moldova itself contradicts these actions. I will remind that the peacekeeping operation in Transnistria is carried out on the basis of the agreement ‘On the principles of a peaceful resolution of the armed conflict …’ signed by the Russian President Boris Yeltsin and the President of Moldova Mircea Snegur on July 21st, 1992 in Moscow in the presence of a delegation of the PMR.
To maintain peace and security a tripartite peacekeeping force consisting of units of the Russian, Moldovan, and Transnistrian Armed Forces was created. Today, according to the agreements that were reached earlier, this amounts to about 500 servicemen from each party and 10 military observers from Ukraine. Coordination of the peacekeeping operation is being carried out by the Joint Control Commission.
Officially, the Moldavian side doesn’t refuse to participate in the work of the peacekeeping format, however it interferes with its normal functioning. This contradictory double position can’t but cause fears, as well as the constant attacks on the Russian military personnel by politicians and experts from Chișinău.”
How would you evaluate Igor Dodon’s activity?
“Only the Moldavian people have the right to offer an assessment of the activity of the President of Moldova. We met several times both in Transnistria and in Moldova, we discussed problems but solved them already with the leadership of the Moldavian government. According to the Constitution, the Republic of Moldova is a parliamentary Republic, and the powers of the President of the country, if to analyse the realities of today, are more nominal. But I would like to draw attention to the statements of the President of Moldova as a politician. Over the past year Mr Dodon has changed his position on Transnistria several times. At first he spoke about a federation, then about autonomy, and then about special status. Even though we don’t conduct dialogue on political affairs, such flip-flopping by my Moldavian counterpart testifies to the inconsistency of his position.”
What does the coming to power in Ukraine of Poroshenko mean for Transnistria? In an economic and political sense…
“We are for good neighbourly relations with Ukraine and its leaders. Ukraine is in general a sensitive topic for Transnistria. It is the guarantor State in the settlement of the Moldovan-Transnistrian conflict, a mediating country in the ‘5+2’ format, and an observer country in the Joint Control Commission. During the war of 1992 refugees from Transnistria flocked to Ukraine, where they were helped by Ukrainians.
Today, unfortunately, everything is different. But we are on the way to building normal, good neighbourly relations with Ukraine. The people of Ukraine are fraternal for us, and I am sure that in the future everything will be sorted out.”
How many Russian citizens are in Transnistria? And, if it is a considerable percentage, what influence do they have?
“Transnistria is a State where Russians who are geographically separated from the Russian Federation live most of all. And given the number of compatriots living in the PMR who dream of obtaining Russian nationality, the figures could be even higher. What influence do they have? For example, thanks to such a large number of Russian citizens we are able to participate in the projects realised by Russia. For example, social programs for the construction and equipping of our social facilities — I’m speaking about, in particular, the projects of the autonomous non-commercial ‘Eurasian Integration’ organisation. Today we are focused on ensuring that the citizens of Russia living in the PMR can not only receive ‘maternity capital’, but can also use it in Transnistria. There are a number of other initiatives. I expect that they will to be realised in the near future.”
Presidential elections of the Russian Federation just took place. What does Vladimir Putin’s re-election as the President of Russia mean for Transnistria?
“For me, the voter turnout in the PMR is especially important. Here about 74,000 people voted. 96.4% of the votes were for Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. This is a huge credit of trust and hope. As I said, in Transnistria the presidential elections of the Russian Federation is like a small referendum. Transnistrians thus express their gratitude to the Russian Federation for its non-indifference and support, first of all, for peacekeeping. After all, what is Russia for every Transnistrian? It is the civilisation center that our citizens pin their hopes for free and peaceful development on. The people of Transnistria are immensely grateful to Russia for peace on our land, for the efforts that are made by Russia to ensure the security and social protection of our citizens.
I am confident that under the leadership of a person and leader with such an amount of experience as Vladimir Putin, Russia will continue to strengthen its positions by carrying out independent economic and international policies.
I recently took part in the work of the International forum ‘Together with Russia’ organised by the ‘Russian World’ Fund, and there I voiced the following very important point: ‘We don’t change ourselves. In our State, in Transnistria, we see Russia. I would very much like Russia to always see itself in Transnistria’. This is what Transnistrians are waiting for from Russia.”
Copyright © 2022. All Rights Reserved.