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Moscow Protests To Moldova Over Arrests

Russia recently accused Chisinau of stifling talks over the disputed Transdniester region 13 July 2005 -- Russia called in the Moldovan ambassador today to protest the recent arrest of two Russians in the ex-Soviet republic, calling the move an "unfriendly" act.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the Moldovan ambassador was handed a "definitive" note of protest over the arrests.

It said that an addendum to the protest note that was sent by the Russian Embassy in Chisinau to Moldova's Foreign Ministry "firmly states that Moscow is waiting for a clear explanation and an official apology."

On 9 July, Moldovan police detained two Russian citizens, Aleksei Kochetkov and Vladimir Lebedkin, after they allegedly fought with a plainclothes policeman a day before a Chisinau mayoral election.

The next day the pair, who were part of Russia's observer mission to the election, were sentenced to 13 and seven days in jail, respectively.

Russia recently accused Moldova of hampering negotiations over the disputed Transdniester region, a province in eastern Moldova near the border with Ukraine which broke away in 1992 after a short war that left 1,500 people dead. The region is not recognized internationally but receives support from Russia, which has 1,800 military personnel there.


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