Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 237

Vladimir Zhirinovsky and a delegation of his ultranationalist Liberal-Democratic Party (LDP) of Russia visited Moldova’s secessionist region of Transdniester on December 21-22. In both an address to the region’s Supreme Soviet and other public appearances, Zhirinovsky encouraged the Transdniester leadership to seek the status of a subject of the Russian Federation or that of a Russian guberniya. He described multi-ethnic Transdniester as “Russian soil” and a “military outpost of Russia opposite Western Europe.”

The LDP delegation met with Transdniester leaders and also with Russian military personnel based there. The Russian embassy in Chisinau defensively described Zhirinovsky’s visit as “unofficial.”

Zhirinovsky credited his party with having inspired the Russian Duma’s successive resolutions, which declared Transdniester a “zone of special Russian strategic interests” and opposed the ratification of two crucial Russian-Moldovan accords: the interstate treaty (which verbally recognizes Moldova’s territorial integrity) and the agreement on the withdrawal of Russian troops from Moldova (Flux, Basapress, Infotag, Itar-Tass, December 21, 22).

The claim to Transdniester’s gratitude is only partially justified. The Russian Duma’s resolutions have in fact been adopted by very large majorities, and typically without opposition from either pro-government or democratic groups. Transdniester has been a place of virtual pilgrimage for Russian leftist and nationalist politicians. The communist deputy and retired Colonel-General Albert Makashov has even served as military consultant to Transdniester leader Igor Smirnov. Russia’s “red-brown” parties have won the majority of votes among Russian citizens in Transdniester (civilian and military) in Russian presidential and parliamentary elections.