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Moldova: Protests To Continue In Chisinau

Chisinau, 28 November 2003 (RFE/RL) -- The Moldovan capital Chisinau is bracing today for a fourth day of protests sparked by opposition to a Russian-backed plan to end the crisis over the separatist region of Transdniester. Yesterday, some 3,000 mainly ethnic Romanian students and members of the country's opposition took to the streets to protest the deal.

Under the plan, Transdniester -- populated mainly by ethnic Russians and Ukrainians -- would officially be named the Moldovan Transdniester Republic.

Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin earlier this week rejected the agreement and yesterday he explained why. Voronin said the plan gives too much authority to the region and strengthens Russia's role there.

Voronin also said he is opposed to Russia overseeing its troops in Transdniester without supervision from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). The OSCE, Russia, and Ukraine are mediating the conflict.

Correspondents say Voronin's comments yesterday came after officials from several OSCE countries -- including the United States -- expressed reservations about the plan.

Fearing that it would reunite with Romania, pro-Russian separatists in Transdniester broke away from Moldova in 1992, sparking fighting that left more than 1,500 dead. Russia eventually brokered a truce and still maintains peacekeepers there.