Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 214

The Russian Duma yesterday adopted a resolution that described Moldova’s Transdniester region as a "zone of special strategic interest" to Russia and that requested the executive branch to "permanently station" Russian troops there. The Duma also asked the government to negotiate and conclude agreements on military and economic cooperation with Transdniester, to provide it with long-term credits and aid "to the extent feasible," and to open a consular service in Tiraspol. The Duma cited NATO’s enlargement plans and Russia’s "need to intensify links with compatriots abroad" as the grounds for its proposals. The resolution also claimed that "the great majority of Transdniester’s population are Russians and Russian-speakers." Drafted by deputies of the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic party of Vladimir Zhirinovsky, the resolution was approved by an overwhelming margin of 284 to 29. (Itar-Tass, Flux, November 13)

In fact, only a quarter of Transdniester’s population are Russians, most of them settlers from Russia. "Dniester Moldovan Republic" leader Igor Smirnov — a Siberian — had attended the Duma’s October 16 hearings on the draft resolution, and was received afterward by Russian prime minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. Previously, Chernomyrdin had signed a 1994 agreement on withdrawing Russian troops. Yesterday’s Duma resolution is not the first action by the Russian parliament that has provided a pretext for the Kremlin to refuse to carry out that military withdrawal agreement.

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