“Russian people’s present”, Op-Ed by Victor Pelin

“In such conditions, the Transnistrian settlement can be a very useful process, even if it does not have an end result. On the contrary, the utility of the process resides in the absence of an end result that ensures the mentioned benefits for the fighters of the imperial movement.  

Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes!

On September 2, the self-proclaimed Moldovan Nistrean Republic (RMN) celebrates the 30th anniversary of the self-proclamation as part of the USSR. Then the RMN pretended to become the last bastion of the Soviet empire, but one year later the USSR collapsed, while the RMN continues to exist. To justify its existence, the leaders of the RMN assumed the role of a bridgehead of Russia in the Balkans. However, after the Fall of Milosevic in 2000, the RMN made sustained efforts to become the black hole of Europe, where the corrupt political elites from the whole region did and continue to do dubious business.

Regardless of the role assumed by the RMN, this was and continues to be supported militarily, financially and diplomatically by the Russian Federation. The separatist regimes in Ukraine and Georgia had the same fate. In fact, the President of Russia Vladimir Putin recently shed light in the relations with the former Soviet republics. All these allegedly received (min 0.30-0.60) “presents from the Russian people”. But these presents have their own purpose and play a role at the right moment either through separatist regimes or through rebellions inspired and supported by “little green men”.

We must be grateful to the Russian President for his disarming sincerity – the separatist enclaves are and will remain anchors for maintaining the ex-Soviet republics in the Russian sphere of influence. So, there should be no illusion - the “Russian people’s presents” should be accepted, as Troy accepted the present of the Greeks, or the presents will be taken back by force, as it happened in the case of Georgia in 2008 and in the case of Ukraine in 2014.

In fact, the so-called Russian Spring of 2014 was to result in the annexation by Russia not only of Crimea, but also of the whole Novorossiya – the southeastern territories of Ukraine, including Transnistria. So, it should be clear to anyone that the Republic of Moldova also got a “present from the Russian people”. In such circumstances, as Russia claims to be the successor of Byzantium, our country should take into account the advice of priest Laocoon: Beware of Greeks bearing gifts! Either it goes to federalist projects or autonomous units with broad powers for the territories that are made presents.

Lessons learned by President Dodon

Except for President Nicolae Timofti, all the other Presidents of the Republic of Moldova ventured to settle the Transnistria conflict by restoring the country’s territorial integrity. Evidently, none of them managed to, making only concessions that strengthened the separatist regime of the RMN. Why did it happen so? Because they didn’t know that the territory of the RMN is the “Russian people’s present” for Moldovans and this should be accepted only as a subject of an eventual federation that would ensure Russia’s control over the entire Republic of Moldova.

Based on the aforementioned, we can reach the conclusion that incumbent President Igor Dodon is privileged. He learned about the existence of the “Russian people’s present” for Moldovans while holding office of President. This way, even if towards the end of his tenure, he could draw the relevant conclusions and rectify his attitudes to the Transnistrian settlement and the country’s reunification. This became known on August 26, when President Dodon presented the progress report for his four-term term in office, of 2016 - 2020. Referring to the successes of his country reunification policy, President Dodon mentioned only eight meetings with his counterpart from Tiraspol Vadim Krasnoselisky, whose major goal was to ensure a simple dialogue between the two. It should be noted that President Dodon referred also to concrete results in solving current problems of the population from the security zone, but he made no contribution to them. The given problems were solved in the 5+2 format talks and this was fully the merit of the oligarchic diplomacy (page 260) promoted in 2016-2019 by the government coordinator Vlad Plahotniuc, with whom President Dodon only played political chess.

Surely, modesty ennobles President Dodon. He could have reminded the people that the discussions with Krasnoselisky, to which he refers in the report, were to lead to a compromise about his political settlement project. This is what Igor Dodon promised to do in the election campaign of 2016. In fact, it’s good that the given promise wasn’t delivered, but President Dodon nevertheless had what to report on in this regard:

  • working out and presentation, in the Munich Security Conference, of the “Comprehensive Package for Moldova”, which envisioned the federalization of the Republic of Moldova;
  • Cooperation with the Kremlin’s representative Dmitry Kozak and with the government coordinator of the Republic of Moldova Vlad Plahotniuc in the designing of the Transnistrian settlement project, which was secret and authentic and which takes into account the Russian Federation’s wishes, and another project for the general public in which he does not clearly refer to federalization so as not to arouse the people’s revolt  (see min. 3.30 – 4.00).

Evidently, after the statement made by President Putin about the “Russian people’s presents”, it’s better to somehow overlook the successes of the country’s reintegration policy pursued by President Dodon, especially because the recent events in Belarus emphasize the whole arsenal of presents, such as the preparation of the intervention of the Russian special forces, sending of the emissaries of the Orthodox Church for replacing the clerics who doubt the legitimacy of Lukashenko etc. All these are done to keep Belarus under Russia’s influence.

Obviously, President Dodon and the parliamentary group of the Party of Socialists of the Republic of Moldova (PSRM) know very well these things. Moreover, they support them as the Head of State is an expert of the Isborsk Club that strengthens the Russian imperialist movement, while the Socialist MPs represent the Club’s branch in the Republic of Moldova. In this connection, in April 2019 all the members of the Socialist parliamentary group paid a visit to Moscow where they allegedly were accepted as supporters of the Isborsk Club. So, in such circumstances, discretion and modesty in exhibiting the successes are recommended so as not to generate unwanted associations.


An old proverb says: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.  If the territory of Transnistria is the ”Russian people’s present” for Moldovans, our authorities accept it as such. Ultimately, if they don’t manage to reintegrate the RMN, at least they can use it as a black hole to enrich themselves by all kinds of electricity businesses, trafficking in cigarettes, etc. Surely, this costs us as a society, especially because the RNM’s debt of approximately $7 billion for gas can be made the burden of the Republic of Moldova, while the elites’ benefits are incontestable.

Another example of benefit for the Moldovan political elites is the fact that the citizens of the RNM can be financially motivated to take part in elections in the Republic of Moldova, having even the capacity to incline the balance in favor of particular political forces. It is the case of the MPs elected within the oligarchic diplomacy in the electoral constituencies of the RMN, which now ensure the existence of the parliamentary majority and the PSRM’s government.

In the presidential elections of November 1, 2020, the given mechanism can be reactivated and even improved so that the PSRM’s supporters of the imperial movement of the Isborsk Club do not doubt the utility of the “Russian people’s present” for Moldovans. 

In such conditions, the Transnistrian settlement can be a very useful process, even if it does not have an end result. On the contrary, the utility of the process resides in the absence of an end result that ensures the mentioned benefits for the fighters of the imperial movement.

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