index.1.jpg (3032 bytes) Anatol Gudim, Center for Strategic Studies and Reforms

Russia’s Interests

Republic of Moldova: Current Trends of Development

This is the title of the first book about the post-Soviet Moldova published in the new Russia and prepared by the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISS) within a series of books about the new independent countries of CIS. RISS was established through the Decree of the President of Russian Federation (1992) as a state research organization with a view to provide information and analysis for higher legislative and executive bodies.

Well, how does Moldova look from Moscow’s perspective? Is there anything noteworthy in the book? It is, firstly, the first attempt to look at our country from different aspects: economic situation and reforms; foreign affairs and dependencies; politics, ethnos, religion; state or states? These are the titles of the four chapters. Inside is evaluated economic situation (financial system, real sector and, particularly, energy sector), relations with Russia and European Union, political and ethnical mosaic and, of course, Transnistria (1/3 of the book), including comparative (with Moldova) analysis of political and administrative system, economy, social sphere and the armed forces potential. 

On the one hand, “peculiar historical path of small countries of the region” is being recognized from the methodological point of view, but on the other hand, it is considered that their “orientation toward independent development with the balanced regard for interests of Russia, European Union, USA is complicated and laborious pursuit and lot”. The outcome of this “is of interest to everyone who cares about fate of people living on both banks of the Dniestr River. And number of those who care is probably larger in Russia than any other country” (pp. 7-8). 

Therefore, it is quite understandable that starting from such precondition realities of the Republic of Moldova, after it gained independence, are examined with the regard for Russia’s interests. At that, it is recognized with self-criticism that “during the initial stage of formation of the new Russian state and realization of economic reforms such policy was inconsistent and insufficiently distinct as for the neighboring countries (former Soviet republics) both because of objective and subjective causes” (pp. 142). 

With reference to our country, Russia’s interests focus in three areas: geopolitics, investments, Russian Diaspora. And the Transnistrian factor shows through each component of this triad in its own way. 

Among peculiarities of the Republic of Moldova, the authors consider the contradiction between “advancedness” of the western type market reforms and insignificance of their results. Critical appraisals are not rare: “large-scale privatization of enterprises did not result in growth of production efficiency, economic and investment activity of new owners” (p. 57); “banking system does not play a significant role in the country’s economy” (p. 96); “companies cannot attract large funds they need through the Moldovan stock market” (p. 103); “according to some indicators Moldova can be considered to be in the region of social depression that tends to turn into a region of social distress” (p. 354); “the state’s reaction to problems caused by migration processes is utterly inadequate” (p. 353); “share of informal sector is very considerable within the country’s economy, mechanisms that would ensure fair competition have not formed yet, and various forms of monopolism – be it new or old – were not subdued yet” (p. 343). As for relations with international financial organizations, it is “an exclusive circle, in a way”, since “the country – under the current conditions – has to sacrifice a certain share of independence and sovereignty while conducting internal economic policy in exchange for support of the international community…” (p. 117). It is noted, overall, “during the fight for independence, Moldova has lost a lot, but gained no less, nonetheless”.

Table 1

Moldova’s Losses and Gains During the Years of Independent Development (p. 363)




Deep and enduring economic crisis

Beginning of economic stabilization and appearance of first showings of economic growth in new economic conditions

Political instability, immaturity of political institutes

Opportunity to choose political paths of development and political design

Deformation and simplification of the economy’s structure

Riddance of inefficient production

Low economic potential

Perspective optimization of utilization of the resource basis, as well as rationalization of relations with other countries

Excessive agricultural orientation of the economy

Opportunity to optimize agricultural sector of the economy

Deterioration of the population’s living standard, aggravation of social depression


Partial loss of scientific and cultural potential

Opportunity to acquire education and professional experience abroad

Partial loss of foreign markets

Acquisition of new foreign markets

Unsettled political and territorial issue (Transnistrian problem)

Perspective of formation of a new type state

Growing external dependency and risk of external threats


Weakening scientific and personnel potential due to wash-out of the Russian component

Accelerated development of the national language and culture

And a showy conclusion is: “there formed a certain type of post-Soviet economy characterized by development of the market economy with bureaucratic and criminal regulation in the country (along with Moldova, among this type are most CIS countries – Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Armenia” (p. 343). That is something at least – together with Russia and most CIS countries. But why were Byelorussia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan excluded? What type of economy are they

According to the RISS estimate, Russian presence is quite considerable in Moldovan economy, including Transnistria – circa 40% of all investments: “Russian capital is in 350 enterprises, and more than 200 of them are Russian-Moldovan or Russian-Transnistrian joint ventures” (p. 72). And, thus, in a sense, it is Russian investors acting on both banks of the Dniestr River (in energy sector, machine-building, light and food industry, services, etc.) who dispose of potential to business-integrate the country. 

It is positive that chapter “Politics, Ethnos, Religion” is stated in balanced manner, with multiple references to local and international experts. The authors took with comprehension domestic doctrine of the Moldovan Government aimed at “achievement of civil consensus regarding formation of a territorially reintegrated independent state, where Moldovan identity would be associated with political citizenship, rather than with ethnical affiliation”. At that, it was noted: “as political practice showed, Euro Atlantic vector is an indisputable external political priority for the President and Government of Moldova. At that, an attempt is being made to build such a system, within which Republic of Moldova would be a subject of international relations, rather than an object. It could occupy a certain niche within this system as a quite European state without waiving its inherent peculiarities” (p. 260). 

At that, how fate of Transnistria will be decided is not quite clear for the authors. They express regret that the chance in form of the “Kozak’s memorandum” was missed and the current state of negotiations is characterized by the “depressive and negative dynamics”. Situation in Transnistria is covered with sympathy, but not at all complimentary (see Table 2). It was noted that “the decade of separate existence generated new problems: two relatively independent socio-political systems and separate power elites with their quite deliberate interests have formed over this time” (p. 351). 

Table 2

Some Comparative Characteristics of Moldova and Transnistria (p. 350)

Republic of Moldova



Parliamentary republic

Presidential republic

Unstable democracy of transitional type with the tendency of authoritarianism restoration

Authoritarian regime with the militarized component

Unconsolidated power elite

Consolidated power group

Pro-NATO orientation

Anti-NATO orientation

Political restraint towards Russia

Pronounced pro-Russian disposition, tactics of closing in with Russia

Predominance of private property

Predominance of state property

Agricultural orientation of economy

Predominance of industrial sector in economy

Advanced market reforms

“Frozen” market reforms

Weakened state control

Strong state control

Pro-Romanian disposition

Anti-Romanian disposition

Presence of the title ethnos

Lack of a title and numerically dominating ethnos

Formation of Moldovan nationalism

Declaration of a policy of inter-ethnical peace and tolerance

State language is Moldovan

State languages are Moldova, Russian and Ukrainian

What is the future of the Republic of Moldova, as the authors see it? Moldovans are advised “not to absolutize western vector to the prejudice of the eastern one. Balanced relations with both the East and the West could be a fitting way out the existing situation. Moldova – as no country else – should keep caution and deliberation while choosing geopolitical priorities” (p. 359). And on the last page of the book, RISS, orienting Russian superior bodies of power this time, advises: “steps that Russia is to make to assert its interests in the region should most likely be of political, diplomatic and economic nature. As for the military-political sphere, it seems that main attention should be paid to creation of a zone of stability and security in the region exclusionary to military presence of third countries…” (p. 488).  

Presentations of the book will be held in Chisinau and Tiraspol in April. Discussions are possible: the elections are over and it is time to reconstruct the bridges.