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Category: History

Transnistria: war and truce (1990-1992)



186

TRANSNISTRIA: WAR AND TRUCE

(1990-1992)

The Dnestr conflict as the multidimensional phenomenon is estimated by differently clashing and interested parties. We will understand as this phenomenon in narrow sense - use of violence and the armed aggression covered with ethnic rhetoric, in a broad sense - confrontation for resources, on the one hand, of political elite of Chisinau, with another - elite of Transnistria. On typology the Dnestr conflict belongs to the regional political, economic conflict and the conflict of the identities appealing to an ethnic component.

Among the former republics of the USSR the Moldova is unique the fact that it borders on the state in which the ethnic group very close to Moldavians lives - Romania. In scientific and political community there is a look according to which there is no Moldavian ethnos: it is substrate of the Romanian ethnos or is a part of the Romanian ethnonation. Not accidentally as ideologists of the movement for finding of the state sovereignty by the Soviet Moldova representatives of a thin layer nationalist, unionistsk of the intellectuals which are adjusted concerning Romania acted: writers, journalists, actors, teachers of higher education institutions. They launched a broad campaign for "restoration of the historical truth" with the purpose to prove that Moldavians make the uniform nation with Romanians, are descendants of ancient Romans, etc. 1

Creation of the public cultural organizations all nationalities and also representatives of some other narodov2 became an indicator of growth of national consciousness and the leading form of expression of national interests in 1989-1991. Their emergence was response to the national movement moldavan3.

So, at the first stage of the conflict one of theories of emergence of concern when one part of the population became more active to get some priorities for itself to the detriment of other groups was confirmed. That is for justification of advantage to representatives of title nationality in promotion, in access to prestigious positions and highly paid jobs historical and ethnogenetic arguments were necessary. They were found in certificates of belonging of Moldavians to large European ethnic group - the Romanian nation whose ancient Romance origin quite could serve as the reason of national pride. After "running in" of these ideas the Moldavian intellectuals the Moldavian party and government functionaries tried to strengthen the leading positions, using a considerable political resource of progressing "rumanisation". This coalition began to advance the Romanian consciousness to the detriment of developed supra-ethnic, political and regional identichnostyam4.

In the Moldavian SSR, according to the former first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Moldova I.I. Bodal, "Russian was imposed to nobody... at that time the attention to it was weakened. The ego does not mean, however, that it was the phenomenon positive. On the other hand, this period - from the 60th to the 70th years - the Moldavian language received general distribution. There was a period of its blossoming" 5.

In March, 1988 on a plenum of the USSR Union of Writers in Moscow the provocative idea of giving of the state status to languages of the title nation of all federal republics was voiced. The specifics of Moldova were that the national idea of title ethnic group included orientation to the existing statehood and rejected separatism. Mol-davenizm it was difficult to use also as ideology of international split. Therefore prorumynsk the adjusted representatives of the right wing of a political range of Moldova - "rumynist" became national radical in Moldova mainly. Having supported accession of Moldova to Romania, the majority of "rumynist" became also unionists.

Fall of 1988 "rumynist" started justification of the ideas about giving of the state status only to the Moldavian language, about recognition of its identity with Romanian and about its transfer to Latin graphics. There were slogans like "One language - one people!" P.M. Shornikov emphasizes that "the first requirement represented attempt at national equality, performance of others deprived the Moldavian nation of cultural sovereignty and national identity" 6.

The Moldavian SSR was the first of the Soviet republics which initiated the translation of the alphabet from Cyrillics on Latin that reflected importance of language for Moldavians in revival of national consciousness and in replacement of competitors from the arena of race for power. Language requirements were concentrated on three points: 1) the Moldavian language has to be proclaimed a state language of the republic; 2) there has to be a public recognition of the fact that the Moldavian and Romanian languages represent the same language; 3) refusal of Cyrillics and return to latinitse7.

Together with fight for giving to the Moldavian language of the status state, movements and parties widely used historical arguments during the political debates. In the center there was a question of assessment of the turning points of history of Moldova connected with change of the state accessory of its parts (acts of 1812,1918,1940).8 according to V.A. Mikhaylov, the psikhologema of initial disengagement of the population of Moldova in general is simple: "the Moldavians who are carried away by iridescent promises of national "-ism" turned the suffering eye only in "fine far", and the non Moldovans supported by promises of the Center, soul remained in the convenient past" 9.

March 30, 1989. The presidium of the Supreme Council of the Moldavian SSR submitted the bills "About the Status of a State Language of MSSR" and "About Functioning of Languages in the territory of MSSR" for national discussion. On May 23 the extraordinary session of the Tiraspol City Council accepted the appeal to Presidium of the Supreme Council of MSSR in which it was offered to adopt the law on functioning in the territory of MSSR of two state languages: Moldavian and Russian.

In May, 1989 the People's Front of Moldova (PFM) which proceeded from objective existence of two Romanian states and demanded to rename Moldova into "the Romanian Republic of Moldova" officially was created. Under its pressure the Commission of legislative offers submitted new version of laws which not only did not consider the proposal of residents of Transnistria, but was more rigid and irreconcilable. On August 11 in Tiraspol the Joint Council of Labour Collectives (JCLC) where representatives of all enterprises of the city entered was created. Under the direction of OSTK in Transnistria strikes began to be organized.

Despite strengthening of the strike movement, Presidium of the Supreme Council of MSSR on August 19 approved drafts of laws. On August 31 the laws "About Return to the Moldavian Language of Latin Graphics" and "About the Status of a State Language of MSSR" were adopted. Next day the law "About Functioning of Languages in the territory of MSSR" was adopted. The ego gave to strikes a new impulse, but they ended with defeat bastuyushchikh10.

According to the State comprehensive program of ensuring functioning of languages in the territory of the Moldavian SSR of 1989 the Moldavian language received the status of a state language, and Russian - the status of language international obshcheniya11.

On February 25, 1990 the Supreme Council of the Moldavian SSR was elected. Its structure and decisions in 1990 were predetermined by increase of confrontation in the Moldavian society of that time and loss of the power by former ruling structures. As well as in the majority of the republics of the USSR, People's Front of Moldova relying first of all on the liberal intellectuals and a part of the former party nomenclature was structured. On elections to the Supreme Council of MSSR about a third were received by supporters of NFM, a third - supporters of a former Soviet centralistsky course (generally from a left bank of Dniester), the others substantially relied on opinion of the Communist Party of Moldova (the interests of "an agrarian lobby" prevailed here). Formally NFM had 25% of deputy mandates, the Communist Party - 83%, but a part of deputies at the same time represented both camps. Besides, in 1990. The Communist Party was left by more than 25 thousand her members.

In Chisinau the political compromise between representatives of a prorumynska of the focused intellectuals and moderate representatives of the communistic power became a decisive factor of change of moods of a ruling clique by the end of 1989. The chairman of the Supreme Council of MSSR Mircha Snegur, the former secretary of the Central Committee of KPM on agrarian questions was a typical figure in this sense. It actively joined in dialogue with the national movement. Moreover: speaking at meetings of the People's Front, it began to be identified with it. These moderate politicians became "the first generation of nomenclature leaders", representatives of a right bank of Dniester whereas earlier the highest echelons of the state elite were completed with natives of the left bank which was more Russified. The republican nomenclature strove for bigger independence of Moscow that forced it to look for allies in national dvizhenii12.

So, on a wave of revival of national consciousness the law on language which officially approved transition to Latin graphics was adopted, teaching at schools "stories of Romanians" 13 began. E.M. Guboglo believes that language laws became "a rotary point etnopoliticheskosh development" to MSSR: they "advanced consciousness and ethnic mobilization of Moldavians considerably on the way to the state sovereignty up to secession of the USSR" 14. However in Transnistria the multiethnic population with the dominating Slavic component (Ukrainians and Russians) historically prevailed, and it initially did a language issue especially sensitive. For this reason it and

became one of the main occasions of the Dnestr opposition subsequently.

On June 23, 1990 by the session of the Supreme Council of MSSR after the hours-long debate it was accepted Declarations on the sovereignty of the SSR of Moldova. The session also decided what from now on will not be noted on June 28 in Moldova as a festival of release. On June 28 - day of annexation of right-bank Bessarabia and the introduction in it the Red Army in 1940. In 1990 50 years from the date of this event were executed therefore cancellation of a holiday became especially effective political gesture. Became day off on August 31 - a holiday "A limb noastre" ("Our language") in honor of the laws which established the status of the Moldavian language as state.

On June-1 30 July, 1990 in Chisinau there took place the II congress of People's Front of Moldova. At the time of the congress the number of the People's Front was about 35 thousand. Speakers demanded that ethnic Moldavians officially were called from now on as Romanians, and the Moldavian language was called Romanian. The sharpest debate at a congress was developed around the paragraph of the charter in which it was told about incompatibility of membership in the People's Front and in any other political party. The leader of NFM writer Ion Hadyrke raised a question of incompatibility of membership in the People's Front and Communist Party. The congress approved this point. It promoted transformation of NFM into authoritative party.

As the Moldavian experts note today, at that time "requirements of national emancipation of Moldavians became defining and began to prevail over all-democratic requirements". The ego a circumstance, along with emergence of extremist nationalist requirements, generated difficulties in the relations to a meyaed the moldoyazychny and Russian-speaking population. Russian-speaking, on the whole, "ceased to find themselves in the atmosphere of national emancipation of Moldavians that created the favorable field for separatist promotion. Leaders of the Dnestr separatism also used errors of the political leadership of Moldova of the beginning of the 90th years which did not manage to stop creeping disintegration of the country" 15.

The statement of the state sovereignty of Moldova was followed by sharp splash in the anti-Russian and anti-Communist moods. On meetings such calls were often made: "Russians, clean up!", "Down with the Russian empire!", "Down with communists!", "the Suitcase - the Station Russia!", "Russians - for Dniester! Jews - to Dniester!" 16.

The process of national self-understanding of the Moldavian people which was followed by "landslide" rumanisation of all aspects of life of the republic, inadequate on terms and scales, caused quite explainable resistance from the non Moldavian population - Russians, Ukrainians, Gagauz. Owing to a geographical location, economic potential, prevalence of the Russian, Ukrainian and Jewish population (60%) Transnistria had to become inevitable the center of fight against reunification of Moldova against Rumyniyey17.

In response to the Declaration on sovereignty adopted on June 23 in Chisinau the Gagauz republic, and on September 2 - Dnestr on August 19 was proclaimed.

In Moldova the formation of republican guard began. Armed conflicts became inevitable: they were generated, on the one hand, the aspiration of the authorities of Tiraspol to translate under the jurisdiction bodies of prosecutor's office and politsii18, with another - attempts of police groups of Chisinau to get on a left bank."

On October 25, 1990 the territory of Gagauzia where there had to take place elections to the Supreme Council of the Gagauz Republic, was surrounded with forces of police under the pretext of "staff exercises" with the purpose to provide "integrity of Moldova". On the same day in Transnistria working groups which moved forward to Gagauzia for support of its authorities were created. Next day Chisinau imposed state of emergency in the south of Moldova.

Armed conflicts in Comrat, center G of an agauziya, it was succeeded to avoid thanks to arrival of divisions of internal troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the USSR. The police of Moldova, despite requirements of Chisinau, were not allowed in an agauziya. On November 1 the Dnestr working groups were returned on the territory of Transnistria. But on the right coast of Dniester, at bridges, the armed posts of police and volunteers of Moldova were exposed, obstacles are established.

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against Transnistria for the first time used on November 2 firearms. 16 people became the victims of "the Dubasari execution" on Poltavsky Bridge: 3 killed and 16 wounded.

So the first armed conflicts happened around crossings through Dniester and in the settlements which were on the right coast, but passed under jurisdiction of Tiraspol, especially in Bendery19.

The authorities of Moldova started formation of the special policy groups (SPG). At the end of 1990 the Chisinau OPON began operation with the purpose of power suppression of "newcomers" and "separatists" in Dubasari as official Chisinau began to call the Slavic population and the Turkic-speaking Gagauz living in the southern areas of the republic.

At the same time in Transnistria paramilitary forces began to be created, from the middle of 1991 they began to receive weapon. In particular the Black Sea Cossack army which was armed armored vehicles (the armored personnel carrier and the IFV) and artillery was formed. And the government of Moldova till hardly August, 1991 began to create own armed forces from parts of the Soviet army. Arsenals of the former 14th Guards general army of the USSR deployed in the territory both Moldova, and Transnistria were arms sources for both parties.

On March 1, 1992 the Chisinau OPON attacked the Dnestr regional center of Dubasari. Punitive actions of police officers developed into armed conflicts. On March 28 the president of Moldova M. Snegur imposed state of emergency throughout the republic, ordered to liquidate and disarm militia of Transnistria. As a result the battlefield extended, having covered left-bank villages on approaches to Dubasari and right-bank Bender. Residential quarters of Dubasari and Grigoriopol were exposed to systematic shellings.

The attempt of cultivation of conflicting parties in Bender by means of military observers of Russia, Ukraine, Moldova and Romania was unsuccessful.

On May 23 "for ensuring territorial integrity of Moldova" the order to presidents. Snegur parts of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of national security were placed under authority to the Ministry of Defence. These measures, together with gratuitous transfer by the commander-in-chief of the Joint armed forces of the CIS E.I. Shaposhnikov to Moldova of arms of the Soviet army, including an aviaregiment MiG-29 in Markuleshtakh), inevitably led to growth of the conflict.

On June 18 parliamentarians of Moldova together with the Dnestr deputies approved the basic principles of peaceful settlement. However the government of Moldova, obviously, sought to suppress before resistance of pridnestrovets, and already then to conduct negotiations from force position. As an object for the main blow Bender was chosen. Motives of the Chisinau strategists are clear. First, the city which is on a right bank of Dniester was not covered with the natural line of defense - the river. Secondly, the city was "doubled": most of inhabitants voted for creation of the Dnestr Moldavian Republic (DMR), and the minority supported Chisinau, in it both the militia of PMR, and the Moldavian police at the same time worked, there were authorities of both parties. Thirdly, in case of success of operation on the Bender direction the army of Moldova would open for itself a way to Tiraspol.

An incident which details and an essence cannot be defined now became an occasion to start operation. But the small skirmish which broke out on June 19 quickly developed into street fights. In the evening on the Chisinau and kaushansky tracks columns of armored personnel carriers, artilleries, the T-55 tanks entered Bender. Fights became hardened. From the Moldavian side parts of national army, MV D iMNB, groups of volunteers and self-defense were involved in them. From PMR - republican guard, militia, groups of Cossacks and rebels.

By the dawn of the 20th the parts of army of Moldova took key points of the city, from the suburb the mortar attack of the city was conducted. Desultory fire from all types of weapon led to a large number of the victims among civilians.

One of mines got to a warehouse of fuels and lubricants in / Part 48414 which is a part of the 14th army of Russia - the Russian soldiers died. Several tanks of armed forces of PMR tried to break to Bender to the aid of defending, but were stopped by fire of anti-tank Rapier guns.

Day of army of Moldova undertook storm of the Bender fortress where the rocket crew of the 14th army settled down. At attack reflection the rocketeers suffered losses killed and wounded. All day provocations of troops of Moldova against the 14th army keeping a strict neutrality continued.

The 21 and 22 fights for the city continued: mortar attack was conducted, the city was flooded by the Moldavian snipers shooting at any moving target, streets were mined. There was no opportunity to remove the corpses lying on streets that during a 30-degree heat created threat of epidemic. Inhabitants buried the killed directly in the yards.

the bridge, the 23rd for the destruction, through Dniester connecting Transnistria with Bender, the army command of Moldova decided to use two MiG-29 aircraft which carried six OFAB-250 bombs. For control of results of a raid one MiG-29UB took part in operation. Pilots made bombing, but is inexact: the bridge remained is intact, and all bombs fell to the nearby Bulgarian village of Parkany. Officials of Moldova first denied participation of the Air Force in a raid. They also still deny presence of the human victims as a result of bombing.

the 23rd there came relative calm. The city council managed to agree with police station about ceasefire to bury the killed whose number reached three hundred. However snipers still acted, streets were mined.

the 29th calm ended: the army of Moldova resumed massive firing of the city from howitzers, mortars, grenade launchers and small arms. Paramilitary groups of PMR managed to suppress some weapon emplacements of the opponent only in three-four days.

Fights stopped only on July 3, after resolute prevention from Russia: the general A.I. Lebed appointed the commander of the 14th army declared a possibility of intervention of army in the conflict if the party is not stopped by military deystviya20.

The termination of fights opened a way to the beginning of negotiations on carrying out peacekeeping operations and about political settlement of the conflict. On July 21, 1992 B.N. Yeltsin to them. Snegur signed an agreement "About the principles of peaceful settlement of armed conflict in the Dnestr region of the Republic of Moldova". It was also vised by the Dnestr leader I.N. Smirnov.

Under the agreement, conflicting parties undertook to undertake all measures to complete ceasefire, to withdraw troops and weapons from buffer "safety zone". For ensuring control of ceasefire, withdrawal of troops and arms in this zone the Joint control commission as a part of representatives of three parties - Russia, Moldova and Transnistria was created. The commission has to use groups of military observers, the military contingents created on a voluntary basis "the representing parties participating in implementation of this agreement" were placed under its authority. Besides control of ceasefire, the commission has to provided law enforcement in Bender. Its decisions were made by consensus. the 14th Russian army undertook to observe a neutrality strictly. A question of the status of army, an order and terms of its conclusion had to be defined during negotiations between Russia and the Republic Moldova21. The ego the agreement still forms a legal basis to peacekeeping operation in Pridnestrovye22.

Within implementation of the agreement the order on ceasefire from all types of weapon was given on July 23. The staff of defenders of Bender was forbidden to respond to the provocative firings conducted by armed forces of Moldova all day on July 23. Reported on all cases of such firings to command of the 14th army, leaders of PMR, informed also army command of Moldova. And on July 29 the first divisions of peacekeeping forces of Rossii23 began to arrive in Tiraspol.

As a result Russia formalized the situation as the party participating in settlement of the conflict. The Russian peacekeeping contingent, along with Moldavian and Dnestr, was billeted in "safety zone". The control commission since then regularly (once a week) gathers for meetings in Bender. Tripartite peacekeeping operation in Transnistria got official approval of the Mission

The UN on establishment of the facts which visited the area of the conflict at the initiative of Moldova.

Since then already fifteen years on coast of Dniester the unique peacekeeping operation which does not have analogs in the history of settlement of the conflicts is performed.

1 Samuylov See. International processes in Europe: contents, role of the West and politician of Russia. M, 1994. Page 13.
2 Guboglo EM. National and cultural movements in the Republic of Moldova//the Person in multinational society: ethnicity and right. M, 1994. Page 173.
3 In the same place. Page 181.
4 V.A. Kolosov, D.V. Hare Moldova and Transnistria: national construction, territorial identities, prospects of resolution of conflict//Bulletin of Eurasia. 2001. No. 1. Page 96-97.
5 I.I. Bodyul. It is absurd to blame one person at least...//As it is sick... About what to be anxious to what calls what the intellectuals of the republic fight for. Chisinau, 1989. Page 539.
6 P.M. Shornikov Transnistria in the context of the civil conflict in Moldova: a look from Chisinau//the Phenomenon of Transnistria. Tiraspol, 2000. Page 191.
7 Guboglo EM. International tension in reality and in representations of citizens//Ethnic mobilization and interethnic integration. M, 1999. Page 180, 184.
8 I. Blagodatsky. Moldova and Transnistria searching "the" history//National stories in Soviet and Post-Soviet states M., 1999. Page 195.
9 V.A. Mikhaylov. Principle of "funnel", or Mechanism of expansion of the interethnic conflict//SOTsIS. 1993. No. 5. Page 58.
10 N.V. Babilunga. Dnestr conflict: sources, character, features//Phenomenon of Transnistria. Tiraspol, 2000. Page 148-154.
11 The state comprehensive program of ensuring functioning of languages in the territory of the Moldavian SSR. Chisinau, 1989. Page 7-19.
12 See: Kushka A., Century. "Who are we?" Historiographic choice: Romanian nation or Moldavian statehood//Ab Imperio. 2003. No. 1.
13 Samuylov See. International processes in Europe: contents, role of the West and politician of Russia. M, 1994. Page 13.
14 Guboglo EM. International tension in reality and in representations of citizens. Page 180.
15 To A. Tsaran. Integration processes and problem of the regional conflicts//Moldova, Romania, Ukraina: Integrarea in structurile europene. Ch., 2000. P. 159-168.
16 Samuylov of CM. International processes in Europe: contents, role of the West and politician of Russia. Page 14.
17 I. Selivanova. Dnestr conflict: what stands behind it?//Observer. 1994., No. 3-4. Page 55.
18 I.F. Selivanova. Republic of Moldova: chronicle of the Dnestr conflict//Centaur. 1994. No. 4. Page 146.
19 V.V. Mityash. Dnestr conflict: problems and prospects of settlement. M, 2002. Page 46.
20 In the same place. Page 46-51.
21 Agreement on the principles of peaceful settlement of armed conflict in the Dnestr region of the Republic of Moldova of July 21, 1992//G.S. Marakutsa. To the world through consent. Tiraspol, 1997. Page 70-73.
22 V.V. Mityash. Decree. soch. Page 47.
23 In the same place. Page 51-52.
Michelle Collins
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