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Russia's easing food ban on Moldova to help its autonomy survive crisis — official

August 06, 2015, 19:58 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The restrictions were imposed last year in the wake of Chisinau’s signing an agreement to create a free trade zone with the EU

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Irina Vlah

Irina Vlah

© Vadim Denisov/TASS

MOSCOW, August 6./TASS/. The decision of Russia’s agriculture watchdog to partly lift the ban on imports of fruits from Moldova’s Gagauzia autonomy will help local farmers survive the crisis, the head of the autonomy, Irina Vlah, told TASS on Thursday.

"This is a result of productive regional cooperation between Moldova and Russia. We are very grateful, as all compnies named in Rosselkhoznadzor’s list today are major budget revenue generating enterprises," Ivina Vlah said.

Return to the Russian market "will help the budget, will help our agrarian workers who are facing difficult times because of the economic crisis and drought," she added.

She said several months ago local agrarians presented their farms to visiting Rosselkhoznadzor specialists, heeding to their recommendations. Moldova’s Minister of Agriculture and Food Industry Ion Sula welcomed on Thursday the decision to lift restrictions. "We certainly welcome this decision. But we would like to see the export ban lifted from all Moldovan enterprises," he told reporters.

Earlier reports on Thursday said the Rosselkhoznadzor gave a green light to 17 Moldovan supplies for exports to Russia of some berries and fruits starting from August 7, easing a ban on Moldovan fruits imposed last year.

It said apples, pears, queen-apples as well as apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines, plums and black thorn have been allowed.

The restrictions were imposed last year in the wake of Chisinau’s signing an agreement to create a free trade zone with the EU.

Mass protests of farmers, losing the Russian market, began across the republic. They demanded from the authorities to revise the agreement with the EU and compensate for the loss of the Russian market.

Gagauzia received the status of an autonomous region in 1994 following the Moldovan parliament’s decision. This allowed resolving the Gagauz problem in a peaceful way. The problem emerged in late 1980s when the Gagauz citizens proclaimed independence. Chisinau said the move was illegal and in November 1990 armed volunteers led by Prime Minister Mircea Druc were sent there to suppress the independence supporters. The bloodshed was prevented by the Interior Ministry’s forces deployed there by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.

In February 2014, Gagauzia held a referendum, where 98% of voters spoke in favour of integration into the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia. Chisinau declared the Gagauz referendum illegitimate and opened criminal cases against its organizers.

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