Russia pressures Transnistrian leader to step aside for a younger succssor

Leaders of Moldova are delighted that Russia is increasing pressure on the hardline president of the breakaway Transnistria region to step down.

The Kremlin has made clear it wants Transnistria’ s 70-year-old leader, President Igor Smirnov, to step aside in favour of a younger, more diplomatic successor who could help end the 20-year conflict on the borders of the European Union.

Smirnov has said he plans to seek a fifth term in general elections scheduled for early December.

“We advise Smirnov to make way for new political forces that could pull the region out from social crisis,” the chief of staff to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Sergei Naryshkin, said last week.

The news was hailed in Chisinau, Moldova’s capital, by analysts and politicians alike. “Smirnov is a difficult partner. For years he opposed any dialogue and I am sure that without him the conflict will be easier to solve”, Moldova’s former president, Vladimir Voronin, leader of Moldova’s opposition Communist Party, PCM, said.

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