The shadow of separatist revisionism in Moldova

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The coronavirus pandemic has affected all aspects of human activity, including the tendency of the separatist authorities for disinformation. Under the direct influence of the Kremlin authorities, the media and the military, the authorities and the press of the self-proclaimed region adopt and promote key stories about the Second World War and beyond.

On 19 June 2020, the Republic of Moldova and the self-proclaimed separatist authorities honored the memory of the victims of the 1992 Beder tragedy. This year marks the 28th anniversary of the outbreak of the military conflict in the Transnistrian region of the Republic of Moldova. Instead of reflecting on the ambiguous and complex history of its role, the authorities in the region have found another opportunity to deny the role of separatist and Russian authorities, who played a major role in fueling the conflict in the Transnistrian region of Moldova.

From the beginning, separatists on the left bank of the Dniester promote the same version in which the military conflict was provoked by the enemy, i.e. on the Moldovan side. “The attack on Tighina was a real military invasion. The city opposed not only the police forces but also the armed groups of Moldova. It is impossible to say that the so-called constitutional order was imposed for the establishment of order because the “establishment of order” itself was categorically contrary to the Constitution of the Republic of Moldova. Why is that? Because military force cannot be used against civilians”, says the region’s so-called leader.

Krasnoselski points out several times that the armed groups of Moldova attacked first, and the former 14th Army of the Russian Federation (now called the Operational Group of the Russian Troops in Transnistria) offered only a peaceful settlement of the conflict. Actually, everything was different.

From a strategic point of view, Moldova has become a clear example of how Russia’s military policy works towards countries in “close foreignness”. On the one hand, a deeply Sovietized population of the left bank of the Dniester, supported by the Russian military force and the fear of unification with Romania, on the other hand, Moldova wanting independence, sovereignty, the establishment of the Latin alphabet, the consolidation of the Moldovan language as par with the Russian language and the replacement of the name of the state from “Moldavia” to “Moldova”: all of these, of course, looked completely different from the Moscow scenario.

The combination of social-political unrest for linguistic and cultural reasons that consumed the Soviet Union between 1989 and 1991 was then explained by the desire of Soviet satellite countries to free themselves from rigid communism, Russian nationalism, and the Union’s military-industrial policy. Thus, Moscow’s policy of protecting the interests of Russian citizens and foreign citizens, who identify ethnically and culturally as Russians, played a role in the escalation of the conflict on the Dniester and its freezing, as happened in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russia was repeatedly accused by the West of trying to destabilize the former Soviet republics in order to maintain its influence in the post-Soviet space. The same thing happened in the case of the Republic of Moldova. The territorial conflict was transferred to a chronic phase, which allows Russia to control the situation by deploying its “peaceful” forces in such regions, along with an impressive arsenal – the legacy of the Soviet era.

At first, the strategy of freezing conflicts was nothing more than an opportunistic policy, then the Kremlin realized that such a strategy is a useful tool in the arsenal of Russian politics. The pattern of planning such conflicts can now be explained by choosing the characters involved in these conflicts.

Vladimir Antufeev, former minister of state security in unrecognized Transnistria, became Deputy Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic in 2014 and then took part in the annexation of Crimea.

In the case of Georgia, Azerbaijan, and even Moldova, Moscow has created conditions that have contributed to the increase of separatist sentiment among the local population. In March 1991, in a referendum held on the left bank of the Dniester on the preservation of the Soviet Union, which the Moldovan authorities prevented, the 14th Army played a special role. The organization of the referendum and the actual vote took place in the incitement of military units.

The first battalion of the Transnistrian Socialist Republican Guard entered into force in September 1991. Since then, there have been clandestine arms transfers between the 14th Army and the Republican Guard, which is trained by Russian officers at military bases. Security and working groups gradually confiscate Moldovan police stations and local councils, administrative bodies, radio stations, and newsroom offices on the left bank. Under threat of the use of force, the Garda insists that the institutions move from Moldova’s subordination to the so-called Transnistria. In the right place, the Commission shall, in accordance with the procedure laid down in Article 13(2) of Regulation (EEC) No 2081/9

The Transnistrian conflict is a lever of pressure used by the Kremlin to influence Moldova’s politics for many years, and the location of the Russian army on our territory is not an indication of Russia’s position of peacekeeping or mediation in this conflict. The Parliament of the Republic of Moldova has repeatedly stated that the presence of foreign troops on the territory of the country is one of the main threats to national security.

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