Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 193

Russian ambassador Aleksandr Papkin yesterday urged Moldova promptly to sign the Memorandum on the principles of settling the Transdniester conflict, initialed by President Mircea Snegur and Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov last June but repudiated afterward by Snegur. Failure to sign the Memorandum, together with claims that "it impairs somebody’s this or that," only reflect "either incompetence or bad faith," Papkin said in an interview with the governing Agrarian Democratic party’s newspaper. The ambassador, who is also a mediator in the Chisinau-Tiraspol talks, reaffirmed that Russia stands for "a maximal level of Transdniester autonomy, taking into account the existing realities and the interests of the Transdniester’s population, in the framework of Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity." (Interfax, October 15)

It is Snegur who said after repudiating the Memorandum that it "impairs Moldova’s sovereignty and territorial integrity." Snegur initialed the document on June 28, yielding as on other occasions to pressure from Russian president Boris Yeltsin. Eager for a "peacemaking" coup between the two rounds of the Russian presidential election, Yeltsin scheduled the signing ceremony for July 3 in the Kremlin. However, the Kremlin itself postponed the signing on the grounds that Yeltsin’s campaign schedule could not accommodate it. More likely, Yeltsin’s medical condition was the reason. Let off the hook by Moscow, and pressured by some of his political allies in the Moldovan presidential contest, Snegur went on to announce that he disagreed with the Memorandum’s terms. The reference by Papkin to the interests of Transdniester’s population implies a Russian voice in defining and arbitrating the interests of the region’s non-Russians, who comprise three quarters of its population. Most recently, the local Russian authorities have closed Moldovan schools and arrested Moldovan teachers in order to prevent the use of the Latin script by the native Moldovan population. Papkin’s reference to "existing realities" implies acceptance of Transdniester’s claim to virtual statehood, potentially including its own existing army.

Yesterday, the Russian and Transdniester sides in the tripartite armistice control commission vetoed the Moldovan side’s proposal to allow the local OSCE mission to inspect Transdniester military sites in the city of Bendery, suspected of producing and storing Grad missiles. The step is only the latest in the series of vetoes designed to protect Transdniester military facilities unlawfully situated in the demilitarized zone. (Basapress, Flux, October 15)

Russian-Turkmen Differences Persist.