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Moldova’s Foreign Affairs Ministry condemns the “anti-terrorist” exercises of the Russian troops in Transnistria

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31 January 2018- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and European Integration (MAEIE) of Moldova issued a statement on the recent exercises conducted by the Operative Group of Russian Troops (OGRT) in the Transnistrian region.

The Moldovan MFA reiterated their “dismay and irritation towards the provocative behavior of the Russian troops illegally deployed in the Transnistrian region”, that (…) “continue to conduct military activities with dubious objectives”. Chișinău’s concern is especially significant because of the involvement of the separatist armed forces in OGRT’s activities.

Chișinău is referring to the recent “anti-terrorist” exercises, but also to the training on the “radiation, chemical and biological defense”, conducted by OGRT together with the so-called Transnistrian armed forces.

“Vehemently condemning such military activities, that cannot be perceived as anything but a direct and brutal threat to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova, MAEIE would like to remind again about the engagement of the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops from the territory of the Republic of Moldova, in particular, fixed by the Agreement on the Principles for a Peaceful Settlement of the Armed Conflict in the Dniester Region of the Republic of Moldova, signed in Moscow at 21 July 1992”, reads the statement.

The Foreign Ministry also reiterated its call for full, unconditional withdrawal of the Russian troops and for the start of talks on the transformation of the peacekeeping mission into a multinational civil one with an international mandate.

In 2017 and the start of 2018, experts have seen a significant increase in OGRT’s military activity.

Besides the 402 so-called peacekeepers, Russia holds the Operative Group of the Russian Forces in the Transnistrian region of Moldova containing approximately 1200 regular soldiers, mainly recruited among locals. The Group is the new shape of the former 14th Guards Army of the Soviet Union that is illegally stationed in Transnistria after the collapse of SU. The Group and the Peacekeeping Mission are strongly interconnected through the rotation of troops between them and both contain local Transnistrian men with Russian passports, despite their neutrality claims.

The Republic of Moldova addressed the United Nations with the request to include the issue of the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeeping forces from Transnistria to the agenda of the 72nd session of the UN General Assembly. In a letter from the Permanent Representative of the Republic of Moldova to the UN, Victor Moraru stated that the presence of Russian troops “constitutes a danger to the maintenance of international peace and security.” The subject was due to be discussed in the plenary session of the UN General Assembly on 23 October but then was delayed by the Moldovan Representative to the UN.

Currently studying International Relations at the University of Pécs, Hungary. Study focus: Transnistrian conflict settlement, Moldovan statehood, Moldovan democracy.

Reintegration

Chișinău and Tiraspol review progress on agreements, sign protocol decision on veterinary, quarantine and plant protection measures

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The Moldovan and Transdniestrian Chief Negotiators, Cristina Lesnic (l) and Vitaly Ignatiev (r), sign a Protocol Decision on veterinary, quarantine and plant protection measures, at the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Chisinau, 15 February 2018. Source: OSCE/Iurie Foca

15 February 2018- The first meeting in the 1+1 format the Moldovan and Transdniestrian Chief Negotiators, Cristina Lesnic and Vitaly Ignatiev, respectively, took place in Chișinău at the OSCE Mission building.

According to the press-release of the OSCE Mission to Moldova, Lesnic and Ignatiev reviewed the progress achieved in the implementation of 4 out of 5 agreements signed in November 2017:

In the first two months of 2018, the Sides have locked in an agreement on the increased capacity of the Gura Bicului-Bychok bridge to make it accessible to vehicles of up to 10 tonnes, ensured the functioning of the Moldova-administered Latin-script schools, agreed on the apostilization of educational documents issued in Transdniestria, and restored Moldovan farmers’ access to their land in the Dubasari district.

At the same time, Lesnic urged the Transnistrian negotiator to unblock the access of farmers from Dubăsari district to their lands in order to start the spring agricultural works.

The parties promised to achieve agreement in the next few months on a mechanism to allow vehicles from the Transnistrian region to participate in international road traffic. A meeting of the working group on the transportation issues was scheduled for 21 February.

Aside from the talks, Lesnic and Ignatiev signed a protocol decision on veterinary, quarantine and plant protection measures, which would facilitate the harmonization of standards to the European level.

Speaking to the press after the meeting, Transnistria’s “foreign minister” Ignatiev stated that he insisted on stopping the “politically-motivated cases” and ensuring the full functioning of the railway transportation in the region. Moreover, Ignatiev announced that Chișinău and Tiraspol agreed to restart the working groups on banking and human rights issues.

Note: On 25 November 2017, accompanied by 5+2 mediators and observers, Moldova’s Reintegration Minister George Balan and the so-called “foreign minister” of Transnistria Vitaly Ignatiev signed 4 protocols elaborated at the expert groups level. The protocols focus on 4 key issues:

  • Recognition of diplomas issued by education institutions in the Transnistrian region– the parties agreed to Chișinău accepting (“apostilization”) a neutral diploma issued in Transnistria;
  • Elimination of barriers in the telecommunication domain- establishing a direct connection of fixed and the mobile telephone network, as well as internet, after the negotiations between operators on both banks of Nistru river;
  • Elimination of barriers to the functioning of Romanian language (Latin script) schools in Transnistria- setting minimal rent and utility prices for the buildings rented out to these schools, setting 10 years as the minimal rent period for the buildings, providing the adjacent lands in use to the schools, providing conditions for free movement of teachers and pupils of these schools, but also the needed materials for their functioning;
  • Allowing farmers to use their lands across Tiraspol-Camenca road in Dubăsari district- applying the “2006 Mechanism” of distributing the lands to those persons owning them initially, stopping the use of lands by Transnistrian firms or persons (2014 distribution), stopping the penal cases against the latter by Chișinău.
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Reintegration

Moldova’s Foreign Minister Tudor Ulianovschi met Russian FM Sergey Lavrov at the Munich Security Conference

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Source: mfa.gov.md

17 February 2018- Moldova’s Foreign Minister, Tudor Ulianovschi, met with Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, at the Munich Security Conference, in Germany.

The two officials reportedly exchanged opinions on the agenda of the bilateral relations, underlining the need for improving the political dialogue. Ulianovschi and Lavrov also talked about the importance of continuing the negotiations on identifying a political solution in the Transnistrian conflict, on the basis of respect to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova.

Recently, the Moldo-Russian relations have gotten colder. Russia accuses Moldova of violating the right to information by imposing a ban on Russian TV, while Moldova accuses Russia of meddling in the Moldovan politics through party financing, propaganda but also abuse against Moldovan officials.

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Reintegration

Petro Poroshenko’s affairs with the Transnistrian “Sheriff” //RISE Moldova

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Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko and Moldova's PM Pavel Filip at the opening of the first joint border checkpoint, Source: gov.md

While condemning the separatist regimes in Donetsk and Lugansk, and the annexation of Crimea by Russia, Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko and his firm “Roshen” does not bother doing business with the Transnistrian corporation “Sheriff”. At least, this is what an investigation of Rise Moldova shows about Roshen’s imports to Moldova’s breakaway region.

Only until recently, the control of the Transnistrian segment of the Moldo-Ukrainian border was controlled by the Ukrainian border police, customs and the so-called “Transnistrian customs office”. Only in July 2017, the Kuchurgan-Pervomaisk checkpoint was opened with the attendance of Petro Poroshenko and PM Pavel Filip. At the ceremony, Poroshenko declared that he supports the joint control “for the assurance of transparency and efficiency in the fight against smuggling and corruption”.

At the same time, Poroshenko’s chocolate company “Roshen” exported to Transnistria in July 2017 goods worth 1,5 million hrivnas (over 55 thousand USD).

Data from Ukraine’s customs registry, Transactions from July 2017 between Roshen and Sheriff. Source: Rise.md

Roshen’s Transnistrian partner happens to be “Sheriff” from Tiraspol, founded in 1993 by Victor Gushan and Ilya Kazmaly, two most influential oligarchs in the separatist republic. Rise Moldova found out that from 2014 until the middle of 2017, Roshen sold goods to Sheriff with a total value of some 3 million USD. At the same time, the official distributor of Roshen in Moldova, Tezaurus-VDS SRL, stated that it does not have any commercial relations with Sheriff or other companies from the region.

Some other 300 Ukrainian companies traded with Sheriff products worth more than 100 million US dollars. Official Ukrainian distributors of big corporations like Coca-Cola Beverages Ukraine Ltd or Nestle Ukraine Ltd are also involved in commercial activities with Sheriff from Tiraspol.

Rise Moldova could not find out how Sheriff pays its Ukrainian partners, nor could they find relevant information about Sheriff’s total imports from the Moldovan and Ukrainian customs office.

With an income bigger than the budget of the so-called “Pridnestrovian Moldovan Republic”, Sheriff is commonly perceived as a primary source of power in the separatist republic, tolerated or even encouraged by Moscow.

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