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Dniester Republic comes under pressure for building closer ties with Russia — head

August 31, 2015, 20:46 UTC+3 TIRASPOL

About 97% of voters who took part in the 2006 referendum in the Dniester Republic voted for the region’s independence from Moldova and rapprochement with Russia

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Yevgeny Shevchuk, Dniester republic’s head

Yevgeny Shevchuk, Dniester republic’s head

© TASS/Zurab Dzhavakhadze

TIRASPOL, August 31 /TASS/. Moldova’s unrecognized Dniester Republic is coming under pressure for embarking on a path of building closer ties with Russia, Yevgeny Shevchuk, the unrecognized republic’s president, told TASS on Monday.

"It is no secret that some political forces in Moldova, Ukraine and other countries do not like the Dniester Republic’s course towards rapprochement with Russia. They made it clear many times during our negotiations that we are going to have fewer problems if we change our foreign policy vector," Shevchuk said.

"It’s going to be better for you," they told us. "But we explained them that the people of the Dniester Republic had made this choice," Shevchuk stressed.

"People are grateful to Russia. They remember that the Russian military stopped a war that was unleashed against us back in 1992. The Russian troops have been guarding peace in the region since then. No blood is being spilled here any longer," the Dniester Republic’s leader said.

"Today, the Dniester Republic is going through hard times. The pressure on our economy on the part of Moldova and Ukraine became one of the root causes behind the crisis. We have been forced to introduce austerity measures to save the budget funds in March this year. Salaries and pensions had to be cut by third," Shevchuk stressed.

"Under these circumstances, Russia is helping us as usual. It is partly compensating for the lost budget revenues to support the people of the Dniester Republic, many of whom - about 200,000 - have a Russian citizenship. We appreciate that, and I am convinced that positive attitude to Russia will remain in the Dniester Republic," the president said.

About 97% of voters who took part in the 2006 referendum in the Dniester Republic voted for the region’s independence from Moldova and rapprochement with Russia. In another plebiscite, held earlier, the republic’s population voted against the Moldova-demanded withdrawal of the Russian group of troops quartered in the republic.

Moldova’s unrecognized Transdniestria republic hopes to restore full-fledged dialogue with Ukraine, which has been suspended because of the conflict in the neighboring country, Yevgeny Shevchuk added.

"We always had friendly, warm relations with Ukraine. Now there are practically no contacts," Shevchuk said. He noted that the cooling of relations between Moscow and Kiev had triggered the change in Ukraine’s attitude towards Transdniestria.

Shevchuk expressed the hope that the newly-appointed Ukrainian ambassador to Chisinau would facilitate the dialogue between Tiraspol and Kiev. "We are ready to meet with our Ukrainian partners, to discuss and solve the problems of citizens and economic agents," Shevchuk noted, voicing regret that people continued to die in the Donbass conflict.

"All wars come to an end at the negotiating table, and there is no escaping this fact. We would like everything to happen as quickly as possible. I am sure that some time will pass, and everything will change in a positive way," the leader of Transdniestria said. He welcomed a recent statement of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko who said that "he saw no risks of escalating tensions on the part of Transdniestria."

"We have repeatedly said that we have no intention of attacking anyone. Nevertheless, Kiev has repeatedly accused us of war preparations. There were some absurd statements at the highest level that hundreds of tanks from Transdniestria were allegedly preparing to advance towards Vinnitsa and further towards Donetsk. That led to the panic among the population. As a result, they dug an anti-tank ditch along our border, dug all country roads, pulled in additional National Guard forces and installed checkpoints with armored vehicles. The Ukrainian border guards do not let Transdniestria residents with Russian passports to their territory," Shevchuk said.

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