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Sunday, May 29, 2022
HomeLatest NewsMoldova prepares for the worst

Moldova prepares for the worst

In Moldova, they are nervous because of the fear of being embroiled in a war in neighboring Ukraine. The most innocent question – where are you from? – causes an uncontrollable scream in the Cartego bookstore, in the center of the capital, against the background of classical music. “I’m sorry. We don’t know what next week will bring us,” Rodica, the salesman, apologizes. who were sent to fight died.

Today, practically independent Transnistria has again turned into a powder keg. Literally because it houses the largest weapons depot in Eastern Europe, two hundred meters from Ukraine. One and a half thousand local soldiers are in custody, with a Russian passport and a non-existent state.

The country has become a transshipment area for the delivery of military equipment to Ukraine

The tension is also felt in the Center for Russian Science and Culture, where the apparatchik categorically rejects questions about bilingualism in Moldova, and indeed on any topic. “We have a lot of work, preparations for the Victory Day (against Nazism), which is this Monday. Check the official statistics.” More friendly, Eugene, the administrator of the center, agrees to explain his case. “I’m from Murmansk (in the Arctic) and 80-90% of Chisinau residents speak Russian fluently. So I was here for twenty years without learning Romanian.”

Photographer Victoria Viprada, who is currently exhibiting at the Art Museum, breaks into a Russian-speaking Cartego to prepare an exhibition in the basement. He admits that the current environment “makes concentration very difficult.” Some embassies, he recalls, “had just recommended avoiding concentration.” The fear of a provocation that accelerates the slide to disaster is palpable.

The Moldovan government, which no longer celebrates Victory Day over Nazism, banned the orange-and-black ribbon of St. George on Monday. “Russian nationalism appropriated it to itself,” Viprada justifies himself. Moldovan President Maia Sandu herself said that she had become “a symbol of an inhuman war, instead of remembering those who died for peace.” But the opposition leader says he will wear it on the march to the monument to the unknown soldier. While the autonomous government of Gagauzia directly sanctioned such a symbol. The Gagauz, four percent of Moldovans, are Russified Turkic-speakers and ultimately Christians who have refused to take down statues of Lenin.

Chisinau could be a photogenic provincial capital of Russian architecture, one or two stories high. During the interwar period, history briefly returned this half of Moldova to Romania (which supports the province of the same name). Then the Soviet Union turned its booty into Bessarabia, the smallest of its republics, stuffing it with large socialist buildings. Today, the center of Chisinau is a pleasant collection of theaters, bookstores, green parks, cafes and tasting rooms of famous Moldovan wines. In all official buildings, as a pure declaration of intent, the flag of the European Union, which has just accepted an application for membership, is fluttering, almost like an SOS signal.

But not everyone considers the EU flag a white flag. Unlike the Constitution of Ukraine, the Constitution of Moldova contains the neutrality of the country. However, the direction the country has taken is clear, since a year and a half ago, the liberal and pro-Western former prime minister Maia Sandu defeated the pro-Russian socialist Igoro Dodon (he rejects the label).

Not everyone approves of the move towards Sandu, who was an adviser to the World Bank in Washington. On Wednesday, he received European Council President Charles Michel, who promised more military support for Moldova, a country of just 6,000 soldiers and lightly armed, perhaps its best defense.

Rodica, a bookseller from the beginning, thinks “it would be best to be part of Romania again.” Even the flag would not need to be changed, it was enough to give up the shield. In addition to Transnistria and possibly Gagauzia, both are on the map of irredentist Russian imperialism. But this is a risky move due to Romania’s NATO membership.

“You no longer think in political terms, but think about what could happen to your family. In the end, the danger of Russia is greater than the friendship of Romania,” concludes Rodica. Added to this is a certain cultural inferiority complex of Moldovans with a Romanian mother tongue, who are in the vast majority, compared to their fellow citizens with a Russian mother tongue.

In the sumptuous parks of Chisinau, there are rumors of a controversial sale to the United States of the central land of more than five hectares of the old monumental stadium so that they can build their new embassy. It has just been ratified with little public information.

Something Ana doesn’t like, a Transnistrian with a Moldovan passport who comes to a mini open-air concert in front of the Chekhov Theatre. Despite her passport, Anya must be counted among the half million Ukrainian refugees who crossed the country, one hundred thousand of whom are still here. “I lived in Odessa for thirteen years, where everyone speaks Russian, but I left because the control became unbearable. I was kept at the police station for an hour and my social media was checked just because I called my sister in Moldova. They said she was a spy!

In the park near the cathedral, while someone is playing the Bella Chao, Marco is stretching his legs. An Italian married to a Moldovan woman with six years of residence in the country is now restless. “The current president won the election thanks to immigrants in Italy, Spain and other Western countries who are not aware of the situation on the ground,” he says.

Indeed, Sandu would have received over 90% of the foreign votes. “But this country cannot become a bridge for weapons that are sent to Ukraine, because this is a war, and in a war bridges are blown up. I think they are not fully aware of what might come to them.”

That Moldova is at the epicenter of the storm is confirmed by tomorrow’s visit of António Guterres, the first UN Secretary General. And Moldovans cross their fingers in anticipation of firefighters from those who put out fires.


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