22 October 2016

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OpinionTiraspol stimulates Moscow

A sharp turn is observed in the political situation in Transnistria. Tiraspol has shown signs of preparation for the accession to the Russian Federation.

President Yevgeny Shevchuk signed a decree "On the implementation of the outcome of the national referendum held on September 17, 2006". The decree is aimed at the realization of the will of the people of Transnistria to a free accession to the Russian Federation. In particular, the document stipulates bringing Transnistria’s legal system in conformity with the federal legislation of the Russian Federation as the fundamental line of the TMR’s internal policy.

The plan for synchronizing Transnistrian legislation with that of Russia, with determined deadlines for its implementation is to be submitted for president’s approval no later than November 1, 2016.

This decision taken in Tiraspol indicates a sharp turn in its policy on the eve of presidential elections in Transnistria as well as the elections to the Russian State Duma. After the failed coup attempt in the Republic of Moldova in January 2016, Moscow was showing signs that it had gone for reintegration policy toward Transnistria and attempts to influence Chisinau’s foreign policy from within.

Yevgeny Shevchuk’s decree should demonstrate the will of Transnistrian elite to integrate with the Russian Federation by the "Crimean" scenario, but with a deferred 10-year period. This move by Tiraspol authorities could be explained with an attempt to persuade the Kremlin to act more actively action in support of the TMR ahead of the president’s election due to be held December 11 as well as to boost support for  Shevchuk’s campaign in the wake of the economic crisis in the unrecognized republic.

The choice of a long way of synchronization of TMR legislation with Russian standards proves a low probability for Transnistria to become part of the Russian Federation in the following two months.

There are many indicators showing that Shevchuk team will be exploiting this topic throughout the election campaign before the year-end.

Shevchuk's decision to sign the decree has been prepared since this year’s spring, which as evidenced by a poll held by the Transnistrian University in May 2016. It showed that over 70% of respondents spoke in favor of independence and the subsequent free accession of the unrecognized Transnistrian Moldovan Republic (TMR) to Russia.

There is every indication that the initiative to sign the decree comes from Tiraspol. Otherwise, it would be accompanied by the Kremlin’s active media campaign. Moscow's reaction depends on the consistency of Shevchuk’s decree with the line of the Administration of the Russian president. But the probability that it had been agreed is very low, given the negative political consequences of this decision for the Kremlin (especially in the context of the signals Putin received in the framework of the G20 summit). The possibility of checking through this move the reaction of the international community to the scenario of TMR’s Anschluss by Russia and TMR is leveled by the risks of the Kremlin’s demonstration of the Kremlin’s violation of international agreements, as well as the deterioration of the position of the pro-Russian forces in Moldova ahead of the elections.

Republican referendum on relations between the Russian Federation and the Republic of Moldova was held September 17, 2006. Its outcome revealed that 97.2% of the citizens who took part in the vote supported the path toward the independence of TMR and its further free accession to the Russian Federation. The outcome of this referendum was the reflection of the people’s will which defined the development of the country’s vector in the medium and long term. The results of the plebiscite were acknowledged by the Russian legislators, which is reflected in the Resolution of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation dated October 6, 2006. Thus, Tiraspol today has all the legal possibilities to exert pressure on the Kremlin to its own advantage. However, the fact that the Kremlin has curtailed the volume of financial assistance to Tiraspol raises questions about Moscow's readiness to follow the plans of leaders of the TMR and indicates the destructiveness of their decision for the Russian interests in the region.

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