In an interview with Handelsblatt and the Neue Zuercher Zeitung, released by the presidential office yesterday, Moldovan president Mircea Snegur expressed concern that a victory of "leftist forces" in the upcoming elections to Russia’s Duma would freeze Russian-Moldovan relations. "With a leftist Duma, Moldova won’t be able even to dream about the withdrawal of Russian troops," Snegur said. He added that any decisions about NATO’s enlargement "must imperatively take into account the Russian factor first of all. One must not forget what Russia means, what her power is." (16)
Also yesterday, Russia’s convalescent president Boris Yeltsin conferred with his national security adviser Yuri Baturin on the continuing reorganization of Russia’s Operational Group of Forces in Moldova, formerly the 14th Army. Yeltsin was said to approve a plan to restructure that Group of Forces by placing "at its core" the mechanized division stationed at Kramatorsk (Russia). (17)
The announcements in Moscow and Chisinau follow last week’s official Russian proposals to Moldova about legalizing the stationing of Russian troops and signing a package of military cooperation agreements. They also coincide with the scuttling of yet another round of Chisinau-Tiraspol talks on settling the Transdniester conflict. Transdniester leaders demanded that meeting, scheduled for November 29 in Tiraspol, discuss recognition of Transdniester by Moldova and the establishment of a Russian general consulate in Tiraspol. (18) Moscow links troop withdrawal to conflict settlement, and prefers deadlock on the latter in order to block progress on the former.
Georgia Purges Disloyal Officers.