By Ana Maria Touma
Moldova’s parliament has passed a declaration asking Russian troops to leave Transnistria, a day before Russian Deputy PM Dmitry Rogozin’s planned visit to the breakaway region.
Moldova’s parliament adopted a declaration on Friday, asking Russia to withdraw its troops from the breakaway region of Transnistria where they have been deployed for 25 years.
The move came a day after the Moldovan Foreign Ministry warned Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister, Dmitry Rogozin, that the country would not allow him to land by military plane in Chisinau for a visit to mark the 25th anniversary of the Russian peacekeeping mission in Transnistria.
Parliamentary speaker Andrian Candu, a member of the ruling Democratic Party, said the text of the declaration was drafted together with the Foreign Ministry.
A majority of 61 MPs out of 65 MPs present at the session backed the motion after opposition Socialist Party deputies left the chamber in protest against the decision to include the document on the agenda without enough time for the MPs to evaluate its impact.
“This is a serious violation of common sense. At least allow us to look at it properly,” Socialist MP Vlad Batrancea said in parliament. “We believe this is a geopolitical provocation,” he added, before he left the hall with his fellow party members.
Moldova’s pro-Russian President, Igor Dodon, condemned the document in a message on his Facebook account, accusing the pro-EU dominated parliament of trying to “worsen relations with the Russian Federation and undermine all the breakthroughs in Moldovan exports to the Russian Federation, regional cooperation, education and humanitarian programs.”
He also claimed that such a decision could only come from “outside Moldova”, presumably referring to Romania.
Romania’s Prime Minister, Mihai Tudose, and several Romanian ministers were in Chisinau on Friday for a joint government meeting with the Moldovan executive.
Dodon confirmed that Rogozin was due to arrive in Chisinau on Saturday and argued that adopting the declaration a day ahead of his visit would only fuel regional tensions.
“I want to restate my position: I support a comprehensive dialogue with the Transnistrian representatives to solve all problems of, most of all for the ordinary people on both sides of the Dniester [river boundary],” he added.
Parliament Speaker Candu confirmed that Rogozin was likely to land in Chisinau, despite the Foreign Ministry’s warning. “Yes, I understood he is coming, despite not being welcome,” Candu said.
Russia has stationed about 2,000 troops in Transnistria since the 1992 truce that ended a war between pro-Russian separatists and the Moldovan military.
Since 2014, after conflict erupted in Ukraine, Moldova has banned Russian military from crossing its territory and the Russian Airforce from landing on the airport in Chisinau.
In 2008, NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly also adopted a resolution urging Russia to “withdraw its illegal military presence from the Transnistrian region of Moldova in the nearest future”.
The Kremlin took no notice but in 2016, Russia announced it would withdraw its troops once the weapons depots of the 14th Army were liquidated.