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    Geopolitical struggle for Transdnestr enters final stage

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    MOSCOW, July 19 (RIA Novosti) - President Vladimir Voronin of Moldova put forward a plan for settling the Transdnestr (the self-proclaimed Dnestr-Moldovan republic with a predominantly Russian-speaking population) conflict last week. According to an article in the daily Nezavisimaya Gazeta by Alexei Makarkin, deputy general director of the Center for Political Technologies, Voronin's plan hinges on a Ukrainian concept that calls for ousting the Russian Federation from the region.

    According to Makarkin, despite many similarities, the Russian and Ukrainian trouble-shooting plans pursue diametrically opposed geopolitical goals. However, there is still one important difference between them. The plan of Dmitry Kozak (who served as deputy head of the Russian presidential administration in 2003) formalizes a Russian regional military-political presence, whereas Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko's plan aims to curtail such a presence. Makarkin also notes that Kozak's plan does not stipulate a compulsory democratization of the Transdnestr region. However, such democratization is a key provision of the Yushchenko plan.

    Russia has found itself in a difficult situation. First of all, the Yushchenko plan matches European democratic standards. If Russia rejects the Ukrainian plan, then it may be interpreted as wanting to preserve its military presence in the region instead of resolving the conflict. This is why the Russian side positively assessed the Ukrainian proposals, albeit in a restrained manner. It is also difficult for Russia to publicly object to the democratization of Transdnestr.

    Second, many representatives of the Transdnestr elite are tired of the uncertain "self-proclaimed republic" status and are, therefore, ready to compromise. They also want to avoid a conflict with Ukraine.

    Russia will have to adopt principled decisions in the near future. Makarkin believes such decisions will be based on the main principles of Yushchenko's plan and possibly include compromises with Russian interests.

    However, the preservation of Russia's substantial, rather than simply formal, military presence in the region is an extremely formidable objective.

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