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Moldovan PM says escalation of tensions over peacekeepers unacceptable

January 02, 2012, 22:43 UTC+3

Local residents organised a protest against Russian peacekeepers in the region

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CHISINAU, January 2 (Itar-Tass) —— Moldovan Prime Minister Vlad Filat said an escalation of tensions over the death of a Moldovan citizen at a peacekeeper post in the Transdniestrian conflict security zone would be unacceptable.

“It is necessary to make a clear assessment of the situation and by all means prevent an escalation of the situation, which could further increase tensions,” the prime minister said at a special government meeting called on Monday, January 2, in connection with the incident.

He expressed condolences to the family of Vadim Pisar, 18, who was killed by a peacekeeper and ordered financial assistance to his relatives.

Filat also urged the Prosecutor General’s Office to engage the best specialists in order to carry out a “correct and professional investigation” and stressed “the importance of joint work” with Russian officials.

Meanwhile, local residents organised a protest against Russian peacekeepers in the region, after one of them had fatally wounded a citizen of Moldova at a peacekeeping post across the Dniester River near the town of Vadul-lui-Vode on January 1.

The protest was organised by the fellow villagers of the killed man. They gathered in front of the checkpoint and said they would protest until “the peacekeepers posts in the conflict security zone are removed”.

Police and prosecutors are investigating the incident in cooperation with the Joint Control Commission for the management of the peacekeeping operation and the command of the joint peacekeeping force of Moldova, Russia and Transdniestria.

The incident occurred at the ninth peacekeepers post on a bridge across the Dniester River, near the town of Vadul-lui-Voda, at 7:15 a.m. local time (9:15 a.m. Moscow time). Two residents of the Pyryta village were riding to Chisinau. The driver ignored the stop road sign at the peacekeepers post and disobeyed the demand to pull over. The same happened on the other bank of the river. About 20 minutes later the car returned, got around barb entanglements and drove on without stopping. The peacekeepers post commander fired into the air in warning before firing at the car.

“The Russian peacekeeper should not have fired at the young man because he posed no threat to the people around,” Moldovan Deputy Prime Minister for Reintegration Eugene Karpov said.

He said that at the upcoming talks on the Transdniestrian settlement Moldova would insist on discussing “a replacement of the present format of the peacekeeping force in Transdniestria with an international civilian mission”.

Russian peacekeepers were deployed in the region in July 1992 after the presidents of Moldova and Russia had signed in Moscow an agreement on the peaceful settlement of the Transdniestrian conflict, thus putting an end to the fratricidal war that had claimed over a thousand lives and left tens of thousands wounded and refugees.

Since then, they have been guarding peace in the region together with their Moldovans and Transdniestrian colleagues. No armed clashes or deaths of peaceful citizen have been reported in the region during this period.

The limited group of Russian troops (LGRT) and Russian peacekeepers are staying in the Transdniestrian Moldovan Republic in accordance with the Agreement on the Principles of Peaceful Settlement of the Moldovan-Transdniestrian Conflict that was signed in 1992 by the heads of Russia and the Republic of Moldova in the presence of the president of Transdniestria. The joint statement of the presidents of Moldova, Transdniestria and Russia signed on March 18, 2009 noted the stabilising role of the Russian peacekeeping mission in the region and the advisability for its transformation into a peace-safeguarding operation under the auspices of the OSCE only after the Transdniestrian settlement. The LGRT guards the remains of arms depots that were built during the Second World War and that began to be moved out in 2000. This process was later stopped by the Transdniestrian authorities following a deep stalemate in the Moldovan-Transdniestrian conflict.

Russian troops are doing a worthy job to ensure Transdniestrian settlement and there is no one to delegate this mission to, a Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman said earlier.

“If one puts aside the propaganda side of the matter related to the upcoming early parliamentary elections in Moldova in late November, the addressee of this appeal is the Russian peacekeepers within the international peacekeeping operation and the military guards of a big depot of military property in the Transdniestrian region that remains there since Soviet times,” the diplomat said.

“The first component is in the security zone with the mandate to assist in maintaining stability on the Dniester and creating conditions for further peace talks on conflict resolution,” the spokesman said. “The second component is carrying out an equally important combat mission. And there is no one to entrust it to.”

“The operational group of Russian troops of slightly less than 1,300 troops is doing a worthy job to solve these tasks, being a reliable tool for implementing political agreements for the sake of a final, comprehensive and viable solution to the problem of restoring the territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova and working out a special and effectively guaranteed status for the Dniester region,” the spokesman said.

“Ultimately, responsibility for this rests entirely with Chisinau and Tiraspol,” he added.

“Moscow representatives within the international mission of mediators in the negotiating process are always at their disposal. The headquarters of international organisations in Brussels and Vienna are well aware of this,” the diplomat said.

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