Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 77

“Dniester republic” leader Igor Smirnov left yesterday for Moscow on “medical leave” due to what is officially diagnosed as “cardiac insufficiency.” Smirnov’s deputy Aleksandr Karaman will act as interim “president” of Transdniester during Smirnov’s absence. The move occurs in the midst of a dispute between the “presidency” and the Supreme Soviet, chaired by Grigory Marakutsa, over the issue of “delimitation of powers” in Transdniester. Smirnov stated on departure that “he who seeks a confrontation between these branches seeks in reality to liquidate the Dniester republic.”

In a parallel development, Smirnov vested the State Security and Internal Affairs ministries with additional powers to police currency exchange operations, “with a view to averting a monetary crisis.” And he instructed all ministries to cut their expenses by 15 percent–except the Defense, State Security and Internal Affairs ministries. (Flux, Basapress, April 21)

Power struggles are endemic to Transdniester, but they are not necessarily a mark of instability. Sometimes they may even reflect a surfeit of confidence in the security of the region’s pro-communist administration behind the shield of the Russian army and its own security forces. The leadership tends to respond to economic and political problems with police measures.