CHISINAU (Reuters) -- Moldova's President Vladimir Voronin has been turned away from the country's separatist region on the orders of the self-styled president of Transdniester, Igor Smirnov, further dampening reconciliation hopes.
Voronin, who was on his way to the consecration of a church in his home village of Corjova, held talks in April with Smirnov to try to resolve the separatist rebellion in the country wedged between Ukraine and Romania. The meeting was their first in seven years and attempts to hold a second meeting have failed.
Local news agencies said Voronin was turned away by border guards in the Russian-speaking enclave en route to Corjova, accompanied by senior Orthodox cleric, Metropolitan Vladimir.
"The border guards, citing orders from the region's leadership, and Igor Smirnov personally, said Voronin was banned from Corjova. The convoy then returned to Chisinau," the Moldpress news agency reported.
Vasile Sova, Moldova's minister for reintegration, denounced the action.
"There was prior agreement with the [Transdniestrian] leadership. This is yet another in the long list of their provocative moves," he said.
Barred From Transdniester
Voronin, the only communist leader of an ex-Soviet state, was born in 1940 in Corjovo, 80 kilometers east of Chisinau. He was barred from Transdniester after his election in 2001.
Prevented from attending his mother's funeral in 2005, he briefly visited the village after meeting Smirnov in April.
Transdniester broke away from then-Soviet Moldova in 1990 on the grounds that the republic's Romanian-speaking majority would one day choose to reunite with their ethnic kin to the West.
That never happened, but the two sides fought a brief war in 1992 after the collapse of Soviet rule and were separated by Russian troops who remain despite promises to leave.
Transdniester, which has no international recognition, rejects proposals for broad autonomy in a Moldovan state.
Little progress has been made in standoff negotiations, overseen by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, attended by Russia and Ukraine and with the United States and the European Union as observers.