Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 139

President Mircea Snegur met with managers of the Russian LukOil company on November 20 to finalize a comprehensive agreement. A presidential communique described LukOil as a "world leader" in the oil business and said that Snegur had approved, and pledged to support, the formation of a joint stock company, LukOil-Moldova, to supply the country with oil and oil products; creation of a network of LukOil gasoline stations in Moldova; the establishment of a LukOil bank and an insurance company in the country; and creation of a joint LukOil-Moldova investment fund for joint ventures in industry, agriculture, and transportation. (13)

Snegur’s personal endorsement of a project of this kind departs from his previous reluctance to open Moldova to Russian capital. Insiders attribute the shift to the president’s belief that he needs to avoid possible Russian opposition to his bid for reelection next year. Moves to earn Moscow’s favor proceed in parallel with attempts to attract electoral support from the domestic pro-Romanian opposition, resulting in unpredictable and divisive policies. Snegur’s apparent acceptance of continued dependence on Russian oil contrasts with the efforts of Andrei Sangheli’s government to diversify supply sources through negotiations with Middle Eastern countries.

Georgia’s Tea Leaves.