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News 26 Jul 17

Honours for Russian Troops Spark Anger in Moldova

Moldova’s pro-Russian President Igor Dodon sparked yet more controversy by announcing he intends to give state honours to Russian and separatist troops in breakaway Transnistria.

Ana Maria Touma
Moldovan President Igor Dodon. Photo: OSCE Parliamentary Assembly/Flickr. 

Moldova’s President Igor Dodon is facing a backlash from political opponents and civil society activists after announcing that he intends to accompany Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to the breakaway region of Transnistria and decorate Russian peacekeepers on the 25th anniversary of their deployment later this week.

Dodon, who has repeatedly been criticised for his pro-Russian stance and closeness to the Russian-backed Transnistrian separatists, intends on Friday to award Moldovan state honours to both the Russian peacekeepers and Transnistrian soldiers.

Parliament speaker and ruling Democratic Party member Andrian Candu said that Dodon will violate Moldova’s constitution if he proceeds with the ceremony as planned.

“Dodon is confusing state distinctions with protocol presents,” Candu wrote on Facebook.

“Mr. Dodon, don’t make us believe that the head of state has too many prerogatives,” he added.

Former presidential candidate Maia Sandu also criticised Dodon for colluding with Rogozin, who called Moldovans and Romanians fascists in a book that he published in 2008.

“[In order for the Russians to stay in Transnistria, Dodon] is willing to offer a handful of medals to those who shot our volunteers in 1992 and we do not rule out that he will find a distinction for Rogozin, who did the same,” Sandu wrote on Facebook.

In his book ‘Vrag Naroda’ (‘Enemy of the People’), Rogozin wrote that in 1992, he gathered volunteers in Moscow and travelled to fight against the Moldovan military in the Transnistrian war.

Dodon announced last week that he will receive Rogozin, despite a letter from the Moldovan government warning the Russian deputy premier not to arrive in Moldova with a military plane and a delegation.

After 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea, Moldova banned the Russian military from transiting its territory.

Despite the controversy, Rogozin announced that he will still visit Moldova at Dodon’s invitation and joked on Facebook that he would use a helicopter or even his motorbike.

The Moldovan aviation authorities told local media on Tuesday that they haven’t received any formal request from any Russian official to land in Chisinau.

However, the Moldovan presidency announced on Tuesday that Rogozin will arrive in Chisinau on July 28 and will be received by the president.

On Saturday, the two officials will travel to Tighina to meet Transnistrian separatist leader Vadim Krasnoselsky and then will head to the Transnistrian capital Tiraspol to attend the ceremony dedicated to the Russian peacekeepers.

Dodon’s willingness to decorate the Russian and Transnistrian troops also caused a group of Moldovan activists, journalists and academics on Monday to start circulating a petition to declare Rogozin persona non grata in Moldova.

In reply, the Russian deputy premier posted on social media a picture of a US soldier with the caption: “I know who these activists are.”

The Transnistrian conflict in 1991-1992 left 1,000 people dead and over 1,500 wounded.

Almost 1,200 Russian troops are still deployed in Transnistria to keep the peace, despite Moldova asking Moscow repeatedly to withdraw them.

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