The gap between Moldova and Transnistria has widened a little bit more after Transnistrian President Yevgeny Shevchuk yesterday proposed to amend the Transnistrian Constitution to incorporate Russian federal legislation as its own. Not only that, but the amendment proposed by Shevchuk says that Russian federal laws will take precedence over Transnistrian laws. The Transnistrian Supreme Soviet (Parliament) must decide whether or not to pass the amendment.
Transnistria proclaimed itself independent from Moldova in 1990, and fought a war against the Moldovan forces in 1992, with the support of Russian soldiers and volunteers. No UN country has recognized its sovereignty -not even Russia- but Moscow maintains a military presence and privileged relations with the Transnistrian institutions.
Russians and Ukrainians make up 59% of the population of Transnistria, while the remaining 32% are Moldovans. The Russian language has emerged as the language of the republic's institutions.
Shevchuk's proposal arrives a week after Moldova signed an Association Agreement with the EU. The deal leaves the former Soviet republic closer to EU membership. Moscow opposes closer relations between Moldova and the EU.
Shevchuk: decision fulfills the will of Transnistrians
In an explanation on the presidential website, Shevchuk admits he has decided to take this step since the Moldova-EU deal changes the region's situation on the ground. Shevchuk says that this is a legitimate decision, since the 2006 independence referendum (which was organized by the Transnistrian Government) showed that 98% of voters supported independence from Moldova and integration with Russia. In fact, Shevchuk believes that Transnistria's "national idea" is based on two main principles: having an own state for Transnistria and seeking union with the Russian Federation.
Meanwhile, Moldova continues to reject the independence of Transnistria, which it considers illegal. Moldova proposed the reintegration of Transnistria into Moldova as a partially self-governing region. Transnistria rejects that option, but would be willing to establish a new, confederal union made up of two sovereign states of Moldova and Transnistria.
(Picture: Transnistrian flag in the streets of the country / Image by Guttorm Flatabø.)