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Moldova: Russian Official To Visit Breakaway Region

Tiraspol, 23 September 1997 (RFE/RL) - Russian Deputy Prime Minister Valerii Serov is scheduled today to travel to the breakaway region of Transdniester in Moldova.

He is due to meet in Tiraspol with Igor Smirnov, the breakaway region's leader, as well as with the commander of the Russian troops stationed there, Valerii Yevnevich.

Yesterday, Serov began a three-day visit to Moldova and met with President Petru Lucinschi, parliament chairman Dumitru Motpan and Defense Minister Valeriu Pasa. Serov told reporters upon his arrival in Chisinau that the main purpose of his visit was to prepare groundwork for a meeting of the joint Moldovan-Russian commission.

The Transdniester region broke away from Moldova and declared itself a separate Soviet republic in 1990, fearing an eventual merger of Moldova with neighboring Romania. In 1991, after the collapse of the USSR, it declared full independence. Fighting in the region broke out in 1992 between Moldovan forces and separatists. A Russia brokered ceasefire was declared in July 1992.