On May 12th, deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Cristina Lesnic, and OSCE Special Representative for the Transnistrian settlement process, Franco Frattini, held a press briefing. The two asked for a visit to the Cobasna military deposit, they welcomed the Moldovan government’s involvement in canceling the embargo imposed by Ukraine on the Ribnita metallurgical plant and requested explanations from Krasnoselski about the vignette for Moldovan drivers for the Transnistrian region.
However, after the meeting between Frattini and Krasnoselski, nothing got mentioned from the requirements of Chisinau, besides the fact that the political process in Moldova stagnated the negotiation process and that there is a need to add the telecommunications, the common relations between the banks and the freedom of delivery to post in Transnistria to the list of negotiations.
The Ribnita Metallurgical Plant
Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration, Cristina Lesnic, admitted that the Moldovan government has been involved in resolving the issue of canceling the embargo imposed by Ukraine on the Ribnita metallurgical plant. Lesnic did not specify whether this is a letter signed by Prime Minister Pavel Filip to the Ukrainian leadership requesting the cancellation of the sanction applied to the Ribnita metallurgical plant.
Vinyl of 100 euro per year
The Tiraspol administration has introduced a vignette for drivers on the right bank of the Nistru river, so those who will travel in the Transnistrian region will pay ± €100 per year.
The OSCE Special Representative assured that during his visit to Tiraspol he would ask for explanations.
“The fact that tax is charged per person understands how this could affect freedom of movement. The amount is around €100 a year is a big sum for the inhabitants here. We will demand explanations from our colleagues in Tiraspol,” Franco Frattini said.
What the Tiraspol leader says after Frattini’s visit
According to the Transdniestrian press, Krasnoselski said that the political process of the Republic of Moldova is stagnating in the process of negotiations with Transnistria, as the government was not yet formed. There was no mention of the requirements of Chisinau regarding the Cobasna deposit and the vignettes.
The separatist leader from Tiraspol told OSCE Special Representative Franco Frattini that there are other issues that should be negotiated: telecommunications, the termination of political criminal cases, joint relations between banks and the freedom to deliver postal services in Transnistria.
Coronavirus in Transnistria: the first death and mandatory isolation in sanatoriums
Two weeks ago, the Transnistrian authorities were announcing that all the necessary measures against COVID-19 are taken and that no cases of coronavirus were confirmed on the territory of the region. Today, a woman died because of the virus, her test results being confirmed at Chisinau. The patient had been hospitalised in the section of pulmonary of a Tiraspol hospital together with a patient who was suspected of being infected with novel coronavirus.
The diagnosis was made postmortem, Newsmaker informed citing a local TV station. According to doctors, the woman developed bilateral pneumonia and had diabetes and heart disease.
All in all, there are 18 confirmed cases of infection with coronavirus in the region.
The day before the woman died, the head of the medical institution, as well the head of the pulmonary section were fired. They were accused of “negligence and irresponsibility”, as one person from the section was found infected with coronavirus and, as a result, 50 persons (including the deceased person) had to be transferred to another medical institution from Transnistria where assistance to coronavirus patients was provided.
All medical test samples from Transnistria are taken to the authorised medical labs from Chisinau, as there are no institutions approved to process the COVID-19 tests in the separatist region.
At the same time, because of not enough medical staff, 600 young specialists who are still students were allowed to carry out internships in the Transnistrian hospitals, while retired workers were advised to work remotely or to take paid leave.
The drugs that are not found in Transnistria are to be bought from a pharmacy network in the area, after the citizens order them 2-3 days in advance.
Transnistrian authorities requested acquisition of tests and thermometers from the Russian Government.
Doctors who are engaged in treating patients with COVID-19 and all employees of a regional power plant were isolated in the rooms of two sanatoriums. All of them are not allowed to see their relatives and all the necessary supplies are supposed to be delivered by the employees of the so-called Ministry of Internal Affairs who are in charge with managing the isolation buildings.
Starting from March 27, retired citizens and those with chronic diseases began to be put on a special list by authorities. The main objective is to visit these citizens at the place of their residence while insisting to comply with the self-isolation regime.
Coronavirus in Transnistria: the situation at the border and in hospitals
Just like in Moldova, the authorities of Transnistria have declared, on March 17, state of emergency in the region. However, state of emergency was established only until April 5. Public events were banned and places for public events were closed. Still, churches and markets remained open.
According to the so-called Ministry of Health in the separatist region, there are five people suspected of a new type coronavirus in Transnistria, 10 people who were in contact with them being quarantined at home.
The border guard imposed restrictions for crossing the border of the region with Ukraine and Moldova. Therefore, leaving the Transnistrian territory is possible nowadays only in three cases: in case of necessity to provide emergency medical assistance in foreign medical institutions, for attending the funeral ceremony of relatives, and for solving matters related to ensuring the vital needs of the state (with the prior agreement of the command centre), Infotag News Agency informed.
A journalist from Căușeni- a Moldovan district at the border of Transnistria – announced that several doctors and police officers residing in Transnistria and working in Căușeni, have to remain overnight at work for an indefinite period, after the Transnistrian side has closed its borders for them.
Hospitals in Transnistria reported to have a total of 73 artificial respiration devices and plan to buy more in the coming days. If the epidemiological situation becomes more complicated, additional beds are planned to be deployed in all hospitals in the region.
At the same time, it was decided to restrict the admission of the public to hospitals and clinics. The entry will be allowed at the decision of the team on duty after performing the disinfection procedures and measuring the temperature.
According to the authorities, 35% of the population of Transnistria or 140 thousand people are at risk of infecting with coronavirus.
Photo: Flickr / Dieter Zirnig
BBC about Transnistria’s independence day: “Celebrating a nation that doesn’t exist”
There are several perspectives in the world on what Transnistria is: a breakaway state, a separatist region that is technically part of Moldova, or an independent state that is wrongfully not recognised by most of world’s countries and international organisations. Either way, it is an enigmatic and attractive region in Europe that is visited annually by thousands of tourists, including international journalists who write or make documentaries about it.
That is also the case of Sarah Reid from BBC who has visited Transnistria and let the world know her perspective on how things are there.
First of all, the author explained what this region represents: “a sliver of land tracing Moldova’s border with Ukraine for 400 km […] the tiny Eastern European nation, formally called the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (PMR), doesn’t officially exist, but it has its own government, currency and passport.”
Officially, the region of Transnistria is not recognised by any member of the United Nations despite declaring its independence in 1990, none but only three states – Abkhazia, the Republic of Artsakh, and South Ossetia – all also disputed territories, as it is described in the BBC article.
The fact that Transnistria seems stuck in the Soviet Union is highlighted in the article, that being one of the most interesting things that draws the international tourists attention. “Indeed, from the imperious statue of Lenin guarding Transnistria’s Brutalist parliament building to its streets named after Communist luminaries and significant dates, it’s certainly not short on Soviet-era relics,” is stated in the article.
However, the region still has few attractions and even less tourism infrastructure beyond Tiraspol. Most of the estimated 20,000 annual visitors come on day trips from Moldova. “Indeed, with regular buses from Chisinau to Tiraspol and visa-free entry to Transnistria (a hotel reservation must be produced at the border posts maintained by the Transnistrian military to stay more than one day), it’s relatively easy to visit – although navigating the nation as a non-Russian speaker is no simple task,” said Sarah Reid.
On the day of celebration its “independence”, Transnistria was presented as a “proud little “country” that marches to its own beat.”
“With highlights including a fancy rifle-twizzling routine and military commanders zooming around in Soviet-era jeeps saluting assembled troops, the 2019 military parade marking Transnistria’s 29th year of self-declared independence didn’t exactly challenge the stereotype.”
Other curious realities described in the Reid’s article are that Transnistria’s people hold dual or triple nationality with Russia, Moldova or Ukraine, “so they’re not exactly trapped in this landlocked enclave characterised by sleepy villages, abandoned Soviet factories, and vineyards that supply Tiraspol’s enormous Kvint brandy distillery.”
Also, Transnistria has always considered itself a part of the Russian cultural space, three main ethnic groups residing there, Russian being the common tongue, Russian flags fluttering alongside Transnistrian flags on all Tiraspol’s (the capital city of the region) buildings, and with Russian soldiers taking part in the Independence Day parade.
“Despite nearly a third of its 1,500 troops forming part of a trilateral peacekeeping force, the Operational Group of Russian Forces (OGRF)’s presence in Transnistria irks Moldovan and Western officials. But with one of the largest USSR weapons dumps in Europe under their guard just 2 km from the Ukrainian border, it’s no wonder Russia has ignored calls from the UN to withdraw its troops. Plus, it has the support of Transnistria’s pro-Russian government, which considers the ORGF an essential stabilising force,” it is pointed out by the BBC author.
Overall, Transnistria is described as a calm region, despite all its conflictual background. “I discovered that “calm” is a fair description of Tiraspol. Despite the strangeness of this semi-deserted city from a bygone era, rarely have I felt safer wandering the streets of a European capital. And while big crowds are something I would usually avoid in a frozen conflict zone, the Independence Day celebrations couldn’t have been more family-friendly,” Reid confessed in her article.
Still, “with Moldova reluctant to give it up, and Russia unlikely to get out, becoming a truly independent nation may remain a pipe-dream for the people who call Transnistria home,” concluded the article.
Find the full text here.
Photo: BBC| Sarah Reid
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