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September 13, 2017 – Fort Russ –
By Eduard Popov, translated by Jafe Arnold –
Moldovan President Igor Dodon
The confrontation between different branches of the Moldovan state is only intensifying. To recall, back in November 2016, the big businessman and Socialist Party candidate Igor Dodon was elected President of Moldova in direct presidential elections, whereas before Moldova’s president was chosen by parliament. Dodon’s election illustrated the extent to which the public supports him and reduced the executive’s dependence on parliament, the majority of whose deputies are unionists, or advocates of Moldova being absorbed by neighboring Romania, which is an EU and NATO member.
The leading positions in parliament currently belong to the Democratic Party, which is the main opponent of rapprochement with Russia. Dodon is also opposed by the government, which is controlled by the wealthiest oligarch in Moldova and leader of the Democratic Party, Vladimir Plahotniuc.
But the most dangerous force of all is that which lurks behind these anti-Dodon (and anti-Russia) forces. This force, of course, is the United States of America.
Igor Dodon represents a few qualities which are extremely undesirable for pro-Western forces. He is for developing good-neighborly relations with Russia (the very slogan of which brought him to power); he is against Moldova being annexed by Romania; and Dodon is against Moldova being taken over by NATO. Thus, Dodon figures among the minority of Moldovan politicians, but among the majority of Moldovans, as a politician standing for preserving Moldova’s sovereignty.
Dodon has even managed to get some things done. For example, he deprived ex-Romanian President Traian Basescu of Moldovan citizenship, who is one of the most radical supporters of annexation who has imposingly interfered in Moldova’s domestic affairs. Dodon has also stood against solving the Transnistria problem by military means.
The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, or Transnistria, arose as a reaction to the unionists’ course of pursuing Moldova’s annexation by Romania, a scheme which threatened to turn Russians, Gagauz, Bulgarians, and Moldovans themselves into second class citizens in a “Greater Romania.” The left bank of the Dniester perfectly remembers the conditions that prevailed when it was part of the Kingdom of Romania. Moreover, the reluctance of the Russian and Gagauz population to be in the position of powerless minorities was shared by many Moldovans. Thus, over the course of a short civil war, the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic won its independence, and peace in the region has been, according to the 1992 peace agreement between Moldova and Russia, maintained by Russian peacekeepers stationed in Transnistria.
As a patriot of Moldova, Dodon stands for re-integrating Transnistria back into Moldova, but by peaceful means. On September 12th, he voiced a three-point road map for peaceful reintegration and rejected plans for Moldova’s annexation by Romania.
The war games held close to Transnistria’s border with Ukraine by Romania, Ukraine, and NATO countries last year, plus the blockade of the unrecognized republic’s land and air space by Moldova in tandem with Ukraine and with Romania’s support, allow us to postulate that Dodon’s peace plan contradicts the intentions of the unionists. Annexation advocates would rather abandon the territory of Transnistria than integrate it into Moldova on a federal basis.
The conflict between different branches of the government has recently been joined by the military, which makes the situation even more volatile.
On the evening of September 6th, the Moldovan government adopted a resolution on the participation of Moldovan troops in the Rapid Trident international war games in Ukraine being held from September 8th to September 23rd in the Lvov region’s training polygons. President Dodon suspended the government’s decree, but the military did not submit. Moldovan forces were still sent to the NATO exercises in neighboring Ukraine. Dodon demanded that Prime Minister Pavel Filip fire the leadership of the Ministry of Defense. The President also instructed that an internal investigation be held to determine who exactly violated the presidential decree and, in turn, punish and demote them.
Moldova’s Speaker of Parliament, Andrian Candu, reacted to the President’s statement with undisguised sarcasm: “The military should participate in any activities which allow them to gain experience. What kind of Commander-in-Chief are you if you don’t care about the army?” The Moldovan military is thus in effect defying the orders of the President who, according to the Moldovan constitution, is the supreme Commander-in-Chief.
Under these circumstances, Dodon’s prerogatives in the foreign policy sphere have been restricted to a bare minimum, and in a humiliating manner. In an illustrative show of defiance against both Dodon and Russia, a civilian aircraft carrying Russian Vice Prime Minister Rogozin to Chisinau for talks with Dodon had its air corridor closed by Romanian authorities.
In our opinion, the threat of a military conflict on the left bank of the Dniester is growing in tandem with the threat of a coup d’etat in Chisinau. It is highly unlikely, however, that the situation will have the same result as the Ukrainian scenario. Whereas the Euromaidan overwhelmed Kiev and the Anti-Maidan was too weak, in Chisinau thousands of people are prepared to go out into the streets in support of Moldovan independence, and they are ready for street fights. What’s more, Dodon seems to have stronger nerves than ex-Ukrainian President Yanukovych.
Most likely, the situation at hand is an attempt at removing Dodon from power relying on legal tricks and the open support of Western countries and non-governmental organizations. His orders are and will continue to be simply ignored. Nor can we exclude more radical scenarios, including a violent overthrow of Dodon and even political assassination. Recent European history has not seen assassinations of heads of state, and we can only hope that it won’t. At the same time, however, the case of Yanukovych’s escape, in which Russian President Vladimir Putin was compelled to literally save his Ukrainian counterpart’s life, shows that pro-American forces will not stop even at murdering a head of state to attain their goals.
Dodon’s removal (or elimination) would open a window of opportunity for NATO and the US. Without asking the Moldovan people’s opinion (the majority of Moldovan citizens favor a non-aligned status for their country) Moldova would be dragged into NATO, as was the case with Montenegro. Then Moldova would be annexed by Romania, and Romanian fascists will inevitably try to reimpose control over the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic with the active assistance of Nazi Ukraine.
While Transnistria is important in itself, more important for these forces is depriving Russia of a foothold on the Dniester and dragging Russia into a war in a distant theater.
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