Coup d’etat in Moldova: Will War Rage on the Dniester?


October 28, 2017 – Fort Russ – 

By Eduard Popov – translated by J. Arnoldski – 

A coup d’etat is unfolding in Moldova. On October 24th, Speaker of Parliament Adrian Candu assumed the function of President, and the republic’s Constitutional Court resolved to temporarily suspend Igor Dodon’s presidential authorities and duties. This all happened following the head of state’s refusal to appoint parliament-recommended Yevgeny Sturza as defense minister. 

According to the Constitution of Moldova, the President is the Commander-in-Chief. Igor Dodon’s rejection of Sturza’s candidacy was due to the fact that the latter is a civilian. The Commander-in-Chief wanted a military professional in this important position. There is also the unofficial explanation which, according to parliamentary deputy Bodgan Thirdi, says Soros-tied structures are behind Struza’s candidacy, as the latter received around $4,200 monthly from them back in 2013-2014. 

The conflict between Dodon and parliament is ongoing on two planes. The first is the domestic political field. The Moldovan parliament is controlled by the wealthiest oligarch in the country, Plahotniuc. The omnipotent oligarchy is opposed by the people’s president, Dodon. Dodon’s convincing victory in presidential elections against the parliamentary majority’s candidate, Sandu, was a heavy blow to the oligarch party.

The second plane is the foreign policy one. The parliamentary majority and the Moldovan political class overall feature a pro-Romanian (unionist) majority. According to the notion of unionism, Moldova is part of Romania, and Moldovans are denied the right to call themselves a separate people. The majority of Moldovans actually believe otherwise, but their voice has not been heard loud enough. 

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Neighboring Romania, a member of both the EU and NATO, is working in support of the unionists in Moldova. In strategic terms, unionism means a pro-Western course for Moldova and incorporating the country into the NATO bloc. The Constitutional Court of Moldova is, without a doubt, a part of the unionist establishment. Five out of its six members even have Romanian citizenship, which is in itself legally nonsensical. It would be impossible to imagine any Moldovan politicians being allowed to occupy official positions while having Russian citizenship. 

On the other hand, it is incorrect to label Dodon as a pro-Russian president, although he and his constituents (the majority of the Moldovan population) do advocate restoring good-neighborly relations with Russia. Rather, Igor Dodon is a pro-Moldovan politician. He is for upholding Moldovan sovereignty and maintaining an independent status for the Moldovan language. This objectively means collision with NATO and the EU.

At the same time, he has also made progress on the ever-older conflict with the unrecognized Transnistrian Moldavian Republic. Meanwhile, in Romania, the popular position is that the territory of the former Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic should be divided – Romania will take Moldova and Russia can have Transnistria. I will refrain from offering my own opinion on this matter; I will merely say that this is contrary to Moldova’s national interests. It is advisable to agree on a mutually acceptable form of relations with the left bank of the Dniester which can take into account the cultural, linguistic, and foreign policy wishes of the population of the Transnistrian Moldavian Republic. 

Any actual removal of Igor Dodon from power would threaten both the citizens of Moldova, who will be absorbed by Romania and NATO, and the people of Transnistria, for whom the risk of a resumed war only heightens under such circumstances. As things stand, NATO and Ukrainian troops are already holding joint military exercises near Transnistria’s borders, and both NATO and Ukraine are interested in involving Russia in a new war far from its borders. 

Russian peacekeepers are, after all, still stationed in the Transnistrian Moldavian Republic. A seizure of Transnistria and the death of Russian peacekeepers is impermissible. To a certain extent, such would mean a repeat of the situation in South Ossetia when, as a result of a Georgian attack, 15 Russian peacekeepers were killed, thus setting the stage for Russia to go to war against Georgia and its Western allies. 

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Hence why the issue of Igor Dodon being deprived of presidential authority is significant beyond domestic Moldovan politics. On resolving this issue depends not only peace on the Dniester, but also the fate of Russia, Ukraine, and Romania. Igor Dodon himself has not recognized the resolution of the pro-Romanian Constitutional Court, and has said that only the people have the right to remove him from power. Thus, the conflict in Moldova is far from over. We will continue to monitor further developments. 

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