Rogozin Vows to Protect Russians in Transdnestr — Just Like in Crimea
Published: May 12, 2014 (Issue # 1809)
Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin on Friday attended the Victory Day parade in Tiraspol, the capital of Moldova's self-proclaimed Transdnestr republic, and left with more than 30,000 signatures from locals demanding unification with Russia.
The visit coincided with President Vladimir Putin's appearance in Crimea — annexed to Russia after a similar collection of signatures — and came shortly before several referendums on secession from Kiev were held in various cities in eastern Ukraine on Sunday.
Rogozin's visit, perhaps a nod to members of the Transdnestr parliament who in March asked Russia's State Duma to annex the breakaway republic, was seen by some analysts as a sign of Russia trying to retain influence.
"What Putin wants to do is to create an additional source of tension in this area, which will preserve Russia's influence there," said Alexander Morozov, a Moscow-based political scientist.
"The same is true for Ukraine's east, so we should be aware of this scenario," he said in a phone interview.
Echoing comments made by Putin himself ahead of the annexation of Crimea, Rogozin spoke out on behalf of protecting the Transdnestrian population.
"Russia, as a guarantor of peace and stability on the Dnestr river, will do everything to prevent the isolation of Transdnestr," Rogozin said Friday.
"We are not only observing this situation — as things develop we can take necessary steps," he said, Itar-Tass reported.
Both governments in Kiev and Chisinau expressed their discontent with Rogozin's visit, with the former keeping him out of its airspace and the latter searching his plane.
On the way to Moldova, Rogozin had to fly via Bulgaria and Romania in order to avoid Ukraine's airspace, since he is included on the list of Russian officials blacklisted by the U.S. and the European Union over the Ukraine crisis.
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