The Moldovan Parliament adopted amendments to the Criminal Code, which provide for punishment for separatism, “conspiracy against the state” and other similar crimes. The wording is such that responsibility threatens not only the leaders, but in general all residents of the unrecognized Transnistrian Republic. Experts say that Chisinau is preparing to resolve the issue with Tiraspol by force. “Izvestia” understood the situation.
What is the purpose of the amendments
The Parliament of Moldova at a meeting on February 2 in the final reading adopted amendments to the Criminal Code. The initiative was supported by 60 deputies of the ruling Action and Solidarity Party (PAS). The socialist deputy Fyodor Gagauz spoke out against it, the rest of the oppositionists ignored the vote.
According to the adopted amendments, separatism and calls for it in Moldova now face up to five years in prison. In addition, they can impose a fine of up to 250 thousand lei ($ 13 thousand) or prohibit them from engaging in certain activities. Financing separatist actions – up to ten years in prison, “conspiracy against Moldova” – up to seven years. The strictest article is “Serious threat to the security of the Republic of Moldova”, which threatens up to 20 years in prison.
Chisinau does not hide the fact that the amendments are directed against the unrecognized Transnistrian Republic. Thus, during the preliminary hearings, representatives of the Moldovan special service SIS indicated that They consider the authorities in Tiraspol, including the government and the Supreme Council, to be “anti-constitutional subjects”. PAS MP Oazu Nantoi called the unrecognized republic “an unconstitutional entity that has no right to exist.”
At the same time, the wording of the law is such that all residents of Transnistria, and not just officials, find themselves in an illegal position. So, the prison term is punished, among other things, “providing assistance to an anti-constitutional subject.” Anything can be considered as such, for example, a purchase in any Pridnestrovian store. After all, taxes will be paid from it, which will go to the budget, which means they will help the republic. They also plan to punish people for “production or dissemination of information inciting separatism.” That is, not only the Pridnestrovian media will be outlawed, but also any citizens who quote local news.
What is wrong with the Transnistrian settlement
The Transnistrian settlement has long been considered exemplary in the post-Soviet space. After 1992, the parties refrained from using force, developed economic cooperation, and also interacted in a negotiating format.
The situation began to change in 2020, when pro-Western candidate Maia Sandu won the presidential election. Negotiations with Pridnestrovie ended, and Since then, not a single meeting in the 5+2 format has taken place. Sandu also advocated the withdrawal of Russian troops. “I am against the federalization of Moldova. I am sure that we will find a format for resolving the conflict, which will include the complete withdrawal of Russian troops, ”she said.
After the start of the Russian military operation in Ukraine, the situation for Transnistria worsened even more. The Kyiv regime abruptly cut off the main transport communications with Pridnestrovie, blocked the entrance to its territory for residents of the unrecognized republic, fenced off with concrete blocks at border points and blew up the railway bridge in the village of Kuchurgany.
As a result, Pridnestrovie has only one “window to the world” – Moldova. She takes advantage of the situation and constantly slows down certain types of goods at customs, including food and medicine. It also interferes with the work of Pridnestrovian industrial giants. In the spring, Chisinau banned the import of raw materials and the export of products of the Moldavian Metallurgical Plant in the city of Rybnitsa, the enterprise was idle. In the summer, for two and a half months, I did not let the equipment for the Moldavskaya GRES pass through. In November, he limited the supply of gas to the Dniester State District Power Plant, which also generates electricity from fuel for it.
In addition, Moldova hinders foreign relations of Transnistrian officials. From August 1 they were obliged to notify Chisinau in advance about their foreign visits, at its discretion, it may not allow the trip. In November, at the airport in Chisinau, the Moldovan security forces did not allow Transnistrian Foreign Minister Vitaly Ignatiev to board a flight to Moscow. “In-depth inspection” was carried out until the plane took off.
The 5+2 negotiation format turned out to be destroyed. Russia and Ukraine are listed as intermediary countries in it, representatives of these countries now, of course, will not sit at the same table. “As long as there is no work of the format, there is no dialogue and influence from the international community, the Moldovan side will continue to apply elements of pressure, will continue to act destructively. On the example of the energy crisis, it can be seen that there are a lot of dangerous factors. Today we are in the most difficult situation,” the Pridnestrovian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Against this background, Moldova’s military preparations look menacing. In early January, the republic received a batch of German Piranha armored personnel carriers. Under the same program, Chisinau receives small arms, communications equipment and small unmanned aerial vehicles. Military spending in the 2023 budget increased by 50%. The intensity of army exercises has increased, including with representatives of the armies of NATO countries. At the end of January-beginning of February, maneuvers with firing are held in Moldova at once at all training grounds in the country.
Publicly, representatives of the Moldovan authorities continue to talk about their commitment to a peaceful settlement. However, there are other voices as well. “I do not think that the Transnistrian conflict should be resolved on the basis of a dialogue with Tiraspol. Chisinau, together with partners, must develop an action plan, put it on the table, and those who accept these conditions will be forgiven, the rest will have to leave. There is no need to play with the negotiations here,” said Oazu Nantoi, an MP from the ruling party, on television. According to him, the Transnistrian region needs to be demilitarized “by joint actions with Ukraine and NATO.”
What the experts say
Experts acknowledge that the amendments to the Moldovan Criminal Code threaten stability in the region.
– Chisinau tried to persecute the representatives of Tiraspol before, but they had to dodge, come up with pretexts. Now the procedure has been simplified, and the toolkit has become more diverse. From personal conversations with Pridnestrovian officials, I know that they intend to minimize their trips outside the republic,” says RANEPA professor Natalia Kharitonova in an interview with Izvestia.
She adds that the adoption of the amendments will further complicate the negotiation process.
– The leadership of Moldova does not see subjects for dialogue on the other side of the Dniester, it is not going to agree on anything. For some reason, Chisinau decided that the Russian military operation in Ukraine would end in Ukraine’s victory. They expect that after that they will be able to resolve the Transnistrian conflict in their favor,” Kharitonova explains.
Political scientist Sergei Manastyrly says that Moldovan legislators were inspired by the experience of the Baltic countries.
– It is not yet clear whether the deputies will have enough inspiration to establish the status of non-citizens for the unreliable. It is amusing to watch how these amendments are applauded by journalists and employees of Western NGOs. The current leadership of the country, of course, will not touch them, it has already been announced that the amendments will not affect the supporters of the union with Romania. But the next government will easily be able to start businesssays the expert.