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Poland, Belarus & Ukraine Report: March 22, 2006

22 March 2006, Volume 8, Number 11
LUKASHENKA CLAIMS VICTORY AS EU CONDEMNS POLL. Belarusian President Alyaksandr Lukashenka is claiming success in the country's March 19 poll, which appears to have handed him a third term in office by an overwhelming margin. Lukashenka on March 20 praised the outcome of the vote as a victory over foreign pressure from countries critical of him and his regime. But the European Union has strongly condemned the poll, and election observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) say the vote failed to meet proper election standards.

Lidziya Yarmoshyna, the head of Belarus's Central Election Commission, said she expected to hear critical findings from the OSCE.

Personally, however, she said she found the preliminary results convincing. The figures she cited in an early morning news conference were also the highest-ever level of support voters have shown for Lukashenka, their president of 12 years.

"In the presidential election in Belarus on March 19, 2006, President Lukashenka, Alyaksandr Ryhoravich, was elected to a third term," she said to applause. "He received 82.6 percent of the vote."

By contrast, Lukashenka's closest rival -- united opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich -- garnered just 6 percent of the vote.

Milinkevich, who called for peaceful public protests following the closure of polls on March 19, has called the process an "unconstitutional seizure of power" and not an election.

He is urging Belarusian protesters to return to central Minsk tonight for a second evening of rallies.

"The only way to talk to the authorities," Milinkevich said, "is from the streets."

Milinkevich repeat his call for fresh elections at a Minsk press conference today.

"We demand a repeat of the election in which the legislation of the country will be respected," he said. "We demand that representatives of the [presidential] candidates, by all means, are included in the [election] commissions -- something that didn't exist this time. We demand that there are no arrests of people and that those in power abandon the regime of repression during elections."

Lukashenka, who earlier threatened to "break the necks" of any protesters who attempted to disrupt the vote, appeared more sanguine today in accepting his official win.

Lukashenka told journalists his victory was a sign to the outside world that it was not free to meddle in internal Belarusian affairs, and that the Belarusian people had made their choice freely and fairly.

"Despite the open foreign pressure, the colossal pressure from outside, we managed to resist," Lukashenka said. "This [pressure] has produced a completely opposite effect -- Belarus is a nation that could not be controlled and one could not pointlessly put pressure on it. The results of the vote showed that with absolute clarity."

But officials in Brussels disagree. The European Union has said there was only one positive note in a vote that otherwise violated all electoral standards -- and that was that the evening's opposition protests had passed without violence.

Emma Udwin, the spokeswoman for EU External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner, described the commissioner's reaction as "saddened, but relieved."

"We saw with some relief that there was little or no use of violence," Udwin said. "But, that said, we are saddened -- if not surprised -- by the way the campaign itself turned out."

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe echoed the sentiment, saying the election did not meet standards for a free and fair vote. In a statement, the OSCE said the "arbitrary use of state power and widespread detentions showed a disregard for basic rights."

It went on to say the detentions of opposition figures ahead of the vote "raise doubts regarding the authorities' willingness to tolerate political competition." That assessment was delivered in Minsk today by U.S. Congressman Alcee Hastings (Democrat, Florida). He is the special coordinator of the 500-member OSCE observer mission in Belarus.

In Brussels, Udwin said the numerous arrests of opposition members in the weeks preceding the elections have no place in a proper election. She said Ferrero-Waldner had called on all opposition figures still in detention to be freed immediately.

The European Commission also condemned the Belarusian government's stranglehold on the media and its refusal to admit into the country a monitoring team from the European Parliament.

Udwin said although the EU has no intention of imposing painful measures on average Belarusians, some new sanctions against the state appear inevitable.

"It is now really very likely that some action will be taken following up on what the council [of EU foreign ministers] said both in November and January -- that ministers stood ready to take further restrictive measures if the elections turned out not to be free and fair," Udwin said.

No announcements regarding sanction are likely to be made until EU foreign ministers hold their next meeting in April. The EU is likely to continue its earlier policy of targeting officials who are held responsible for violations of international standards of democracy and human rights.

Officials say the EU may also extend its list of Belarusian officials banned from entering any EU member-states. The list currently comprises six top officials -- but not Lukashenka. Freezing certain assets would be another possibility.

Udwin today said EU aid to civil society will continue and that Brussels salutes the determination of the Belarusian opposition. "I think it's important to recognize the courage that it has taken for the opposition candidates to stand and to maintain their campaign in extremely difficult circumstances and sometimes at personal risk," Udwin said. "And that deserves our respect and recognition."

Udwin today declined to say if the EU would continue talking to the Lukashenka regime. EU member states currently avoid talking to Minsk, leaving direct contact to the bloc's rotating presidency and foreign policy chief Javier Solana. (Ahto Lobjakas)

HAS OPPOSITION SCORED A VICTORY OVER FEAR? Members of the Belarusian opposition rallied for a second consecutive day in downtown Minsk on March 20 to protest President Alyaksandr Lukashenka's election victory. The opposition is claiming that the March 19 presidential poll was flawed and are demanding that a repeat election be held in July. But while the demonstrators' chances of forcing a repeat election are virtually nil, the absence of the expected police crackdown could indicate that they could succeed in altering the country's political climate for the better.

The demonstration that took place shortly after polls closed on March 19 was the largest antigovernment rally in Belarus in nearly 10 years, and united opposition candidate Alyaksandr Milinkevich was clearly pleased to see a crowd estimated at 20,000 people turn out on Minsk's October Square.

"We have won and it does not matter what they announce, they will announce a ridiculous percentage [for Lukashenka]," Milinkevich said. "We have won because people believe they can stand up for freedom, truth, justice and their own dignity. The authorities were threatening them, saying they were terrorists with plans, but despite this, people have come out. This is a victory over fear."

The next day, during a rally on October Square that attracted approximately 7,000 protestors, Milinkevich made explicit demands for repeat elections.

"We demand a repeat of the election in which the legislation of the country will be respected," Milinkevich said. "We demand that representatives of the [presidential] candidates, by all means, are included in the [election] commissions -- something that didn't exist this time. We demand that there are no arrests of people and that those in power abandon the regime of repression during elections."

Milinkevich called on the demonstrators to remain on the square all night, a tactic that proved to be successful during Ukraine's Orange Revolution in 2004.

"We must remain on this square," Milinkevich said. "This square is ours. It is Belarusian land. We were here last night and we started fighting for truth and freedom. For Truth! For Justice!"

Several hundred demonstrators did remain, and signaled their intention of staying there for the long-term by erecting approximately 20 tents.

Police cordoned off the square and controlled the movement of people between the square, preventing them from providing food and warm clothing to the demonstrators, but did not intervene otherwise.

In the days leading up to the election, President Lukashenka had repeatedly promised to crack down on the opposition, but in the end only about 30 activists outside of the downtown protest were arrested in Minsk.

What might have led Lukashenka to not carry out his promise? A huge number of police were reportedly deployed in Minsk for the election period, and they certainly had the opportunity to resort to force when the protestors numbered only in the hundreds overnight on October Square.

There are at least two plausible answers.

During his news conference for domestic and foreign media on March 20, Lukashenka claimed that the Belarusian opposition is "worth nothing," stating, "That's why we gave them the opportunity to show off, even though it [the rally] was illegal."

Perhaps the Belarusian president considered it unfitting to change his mind several hours later, when the opposition organized another illegal rally. The use of force by police would have shown that the opposition was, in fact, "worth something."

Another possibility is that Lukashenka has decided to employ a different tactic to quash the opposition protest on October Square.

By confiscating food and clothing supplies intended for the demonstrators, the authorities may be betting on the elements to break the protestors' will.

Whatever the reason for doing so, Lukashenka's decision to not use force plays in his favor. Had a potential police intervention turned violent, it may have served merely to strengthen his opponents by radicalizing opposition sentiments.

As it turned out, Lukashenka was content enough in his victory to boast during his news conference on March 20 that he had managed to contain the "virus of colored revolutions" in Belarus.

"The virus of colored revolutions affects weakened countries in which [those in] power are stuck in corruption and are deaf to people's concerns," Lukashenka said. "Belarus has strong immunity, which is based on effective power, a strong social policy, and a dynamic economy that does not serve individual oligarchs, but [serves] the welfare of all the people."

However, the two days of opposition protests seem to defy Lukashenka's self-congratulatory assertions.

While it is highly improbable that the protests could lead to a repeat presidential vote in Belarus, they may significantly contribute to what Milinkevich described during his election campaign as "getting rid of the humiliating fear" in Belarus.

If the opposition does not splinter and remains united around Milinkevich in the post-election period, President Lukashenka may find it very difficult or even impossible to run the country the way he did during his two previous terms. (Jan Maksymiuk)

PRIME MINISTER CAUTIOUS ABOUT COALITION GOVERNMENT. Ukrainians go the polls for legislative elections on March 26. According to recent polls, the opposition Party of Regions, led by former Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, is poised to win the March 26 ballot, with 20-26 percent of support. The pro-presidential Our Ukraine coalition and the Yuliya Tymoshenko Bloc are vying for second place. Prime Minister Yuriy Yekhanurov, an ally of President Victor Yushchenko and a member of the Our Ukraine bloc, visited RFE/RL's Kyiv bureau on March 15. He spoke about Ukraine's bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO), the chances of forming a coalition government after the elections, and the price of potatoes.

RFE/RL: Why have the prices for vegetables -- potatoes, carrots, and other stuff -- increased lately?

Yuriy Yekhanurov: You know, I cannot be held responsible for potato prices, for the very simple reason that the people grow the potatoes themselves -- simple Ukrainian people in their plots. The state does not have any fields where we plant potatoes. Even the collective farms hardly grow any. In fact, almost all potatoes in Ukraine are [privately grown].

So, there were a lot of potatoes in 2004, because everyone planted them and the harvest was huge. That's why people planted less the next year. It just happened. But, honestly speaking, even being a professional economist as I am, I don't know how to forecast it and how to regulate anything in such cases. Buying potatoes abroad today wouldn't be the right solution for Ukraine. Though, this option is possible.

The price of sugar [also] went up. It did so because the prices went up at the London Stock Exchange. Russia increased sugar prices considerably.... We, first of all, have somewhat improved the situation on the border. Secondly, we brought together the sugar traders, and there are not so many of them in Ukraine. We warned them that we'll open our borders to countries where the sugar is cheaper, unless the situation with sugar improves. And our neighbors will be happy to bring us more sugar. And, thirdly, we used the state reserves. I issued an order [and] they're prepared to make an intervention at any moment. Now the price has gotten better.

Unfortunately, there are things that we can regulate. That's life.

RFE/RL: Won't the adoption of WTO-related laws mean that potatoes and agricultural products will become even more expensive? Because this will not be an issue for just the growers, but an issue of the state economy.

Yekhanurov: Yes, we are preparing for accession to the World Trade Organization, and we've taken all the major measures, except for the adoption of several laws. I believe that we have a good chance of acceding to the World Trade Organization this year. I would like all our manufacturers, all those trading on foreign markets and all those working on the domestic market to understand that the time has come to prepare for the new rules of the game. Instead of running around crying and panicking for unknown reasons, they have to take the documents, look into them, and show some interest -- what is the level of prices in other countries today? -- and get prepared for the new reality. Today, almost 80 percent of the [global] economy, the legitimate economy, operates within the World Trade Organization. So, we have to be with all these civilized countries, and we have to work according to these rules.

I hope very much that Russia will enter the World Trade Organization either with us or after us. It would mean that we'll work with them according to the same rules. I don't doubt that Ukrainian goods will reach Vladivostok, because their quality is high, because our people are professional, you know. They drink a little less, and so on. So, one can say that we'll be viewed positively in international markets. At the same time, those who whine but don't prepare themselves will be vulnerable.... And the other thing is to sell the goods the way Lithuania, little Lithuania, does: they prepared themselves for EU accession and on May 2 [2004] they took their goods to Germany. They trade well on German markets. They've certified all their products. They work according to EU standards.

RFE/RL: Are you referring to individual traders or large companies?

Yekhanurov: I'm referring to individual traders. I'm referring to agricultural products. We have to do the same. We have to get ready. I'll never forget a farm manager from Cherkasy Oblast, who told me: "I'm ready! I can work on any market! I can do it!" And he really is able. I just want all Ukrainians to be able.

RFE/RL: Everyone is discussing the situation in Transdniester, which has emerged since the introduction of the new customs rules. I would like to ask you a question not about the rules, because their meaning is clear -- stopping contraband, bringing the situation at the Ukrainian-Moldovan border closer to European norms. But my question is different: why did Ukraine linger for so long with the implementation of these provisions and, by doing so, endanger its international image?

Yekhanurov: It's a good question, you know.... Let's look at the history of events. It was on December 30 [2005] that I held negotiations with Vasile Tarlev, the prime minister of Moldova, here in Kyiv. We went out to journalists and announced that we've signed documents and are going to introduce a certain procedure. I was in Odesa on January 22. I'm telling you where I was personally. There was a meeting among entrepreneurs of Transdniester, Ukraine, and Moldova. There were government officials from all three countries.

RFE/RL: Were they entrepreneurs registered in Chisinau?

Yekhanurov: These were people working in the export and import business. Really hardworking guys, company CEOs. I met with them; they asked questions. I told them: "We will change the procedure from January 25 onwards. Let's agree on it! What don't you like about it?" They told me what they didn't [like]. We sorted it out.

The Moldovans wanted a stricter procedure there. We, the Ukrainians, disagreed. We came up with a softer procedure. We didn't want any extra burden. But there in Odesa I realized that not everything was polished properly. That's why we postponed it until March 3. We postponed the implementation. We told them: "Dear Transdniestrians! Get ready. Dear Moldovans! Please adopt additional government resolutions. Please simplify the registration procedure, make it comfortable for the people to work with." That's what they did. It was only after that that the new procedure was implemented. What is going on now? I had a meeting yesterday with one of the largest Moldovan exporters. I asked him: "Do you have any problems with the import of products into Ukraine?" "No, I don't. All products are coming through well, there are no problems, there are no obstacles."

RFE/RL: Another topical international-relations issue is Russia's Black Sea Fleet. What is the government's plan for solving the issue of its stationing on Ukraine's territory?

Yekhanurov: Let us look at everything. Let us look at the agreement and the addendums, what has to be used by the Black Sea Fleet, how many square meters, kilometers, hectares, etc. The buildings they occupy, OK, that is agreed on, so why are you [Russia] going to take over [more]? You are occupying it wrongfully, not on the basis of documentation. Pay for it or leave. That is all we want to do. And we are doing exactly that.

This work has already started. The preparatory work has been done, and that's it. The Black Sea Fleet will stay here until 2017 according to the treaties, unless other decisions are made to extend its stay. Anything can happen.

The point is that everything must be in order, so that there is no embezzlement by their sailors or our officials, because all these discussions are always linked to private interests. I'm telling this to you having visited Sevastopol and traveled around Crimea.

I keep asking people in Sevastopol: "Why don't you utilize the 418 hectares owned by the city of Sevastopol and used by another state? Why don't you put the revenue from that land into the city budget?" We keep asking the same questions to ourselves, to representatives of the Black Sea Fleet, representatives of the Russian Federation. Now the discussion is proceeding well.

RFE/RL: You stated in an Internet chat [session] that you'd like to see yourself in the post of prime minister after the elections. What kind of coalition is needed for [that], because, to all appearances, Yuliya Tymoshenko's bloc is not going to vote in favor of you? If the Party of Regions is your rival, then how are you going to achieve such a coalition?

Yekhanurov: You know, talking about any coalition before the elections have taken place is just talking for the sake of it. I'm a very specific person...I'm very modest. For this reason, I would not like to discuss these things. It's not good for anything. Excuse me, but it is true, because I am a realistic person, as you know. I understand it as follows: we'll see after the election, as 39.8 percent of the electorate do not know who they will vote for, or are likely to change their mind. This is based on the latest polls.

RFE/RL: I'll tell you why I'm asking about these coalitions, the discussion of which is maybe not appropriate, as you say. This is because many people are worried about a possible coalition between Our Ukraine and the Party of Regions. There are more and more statements connected to this.

Yekhanurov: Who is making such statements?

RFE/RL: For instance, [Glavred website editor Yuriy] Poludionnyy, whom you know, I believe, published an article yesterday titled "Why A Coalition Between Our Ukraine And The Party Of Regions Is Inevitable." He explains that this is the best outcome for Ukraine.

Yekhanurov: That is his opinion. You didn't see any statements on behalf of Our Ukraine. Nobody, no member of the campaign headquarters, no one from our electoral lists has talked about this.

RFE/RL: You said something along the lines of "we will definitely win." Could you be more specific about what will happen if you win and what you are going to build in 3 1/2 years, according to the program of the president of Ukraine? And, to finish with, please try to look into the future. What kind of Ukraine can you see, let's say, on 15 March 2007? What about Ukraine's economy, international status, and [what about] your own place on the political map?

Yekhanurov: In the next year we'll accede to the WTO. We will become more prominent in the international marketplace. Our aircraft will be more interesting for others. We will establish several large corporations that will seriously compete in the international marketplace. We will have a clear-cut energy-supply-diversification program. And the energy-sector-development program that we approved today at a meeting of the government will be implemented.

The most important thing is for the people to see that we have become more qualified, more understandable, more predictable -- that we are calmly and surely implementing the program of President [Viktor] Yushchenko. On this basis, the authority of our president will grow, and the authority of our political party will grow.

TRANSDNIESTRIAN LEGISLATURE HEAD COMMENTS ON CUSTOMS ROW. On March 15, RFE/RL Romanian and Moldovan Service correspondent Lina Grau spoke with Yevgheni Shevciuk, the speaker of the parliament of the unrecognized Transdniester republic about the ongoing row with Ukraine over new customs regulations and about the prospects for talks with Moldova aimed at resolving the frozen Transdniester dispute. Shevciuk said that although there are many opinions in the republic about what the territory's status should be, "they all, or a majority, are united around one thing: anything, but not with Moldova."

RFE/RL: What are the origins of the customs dispute with Ukraine? How did it come about?

Yevgheni Shevciuk: What is happening now is a result of the fact that some parties -- our partner Moldova and our neighbor Ukraine -- made an agreement, but did not take into account two factors: as a matter of fact Moldova does not share a common border with Ukraine, there is no [Moldovan] border in this area, it is the border between Transdniester and Ukraine. Whether we want it or not, under international law Transdniester is, of course, an unrecognized state. We understand this. However, we should pay attention to the real situation. The Transdniester Moldovan Republic exists, and so does a memorandum that fixed certain arrangements in Moscow in 1997. So [when Ukraine and Moldova say] these are just bilateral relations, that is probably not correct. The memorandum bears the signature of the Moldovan president. That is why this matter should at least have been reviewed by the Transdniester side. I won't speak mention the provision envisaging the economic and commercial freedom of the Transdniester republic.

[The memorandum] contains a passage reducing the matter to the fact that in issues concerning the interests of Transdniester, a decision is made by consent of the parties. I don't remember any document stating that Transdniester was asked for its agreement about the new [customs] regime.

Therefore, one obviously observes Moldova using certain economic levers to achieve political goals and ends. And this does not generally meet the logic of the method for achieving a peaceful settlement of conflict with minimal losses -- first of all for the populations both in Transdniester and in Moldova.

Today, these actions, in my opinion, have even farther pushed back the discussion regarding the construction of a common state.

Since 2001 when [Moldovan President Vladimir] Voronin came to power, he chose to resolve the conflict under the influence of negative factors. In my opinion, in order to involve someone, a kind of friendly approach is needed, a sort of positive perspective, something that could become in the future a foundation for examining subjects related to integration.

This all led to the fact that the problem could not be resolved. Certain mediators joined -- the European Union and the United States, while Russia and Ukraine already were guarantors. We enlarged the format [of the negotiations] to "five plus two"-- that is what has changed. And the measures to strangle Transdniester have become more active, I think. Where does this take us? First of all, of course, and everybody knows it very well, that the customs delays will knock [Transdniester] enterprises out of the market. If we stay there [at the border] for a certain period of time, a month or more, some will lose markets to such an extent that they will not recover.

And the most important thing is not that markets will be lost, but that we have encouraged the process of emigration. Right now, enterprises that halt work -- their managers are the first to leave. Yes, the salary here is lower than in Russia, but nevertheless there was a sign of a rise, and they felt at home here. But now these people can't see any perspectives in sight, realizing that the situation is approaching a dead end.

RFE/RL: What can you say about the future?

Shevciuk: At this point I would be careful in remarks about the terms. I have heard a declaration by President Voronin that it could take a month. Speaking about who will resist and how much, in my opinion, is not what people are expecting from us. And what do you mean about resisting? We could...well, we are going to survive, but the matter is different. Look, it's the 21st century outside, and people want to earn a living, to take care of their health, to study, and so on. And counting the time by expecting that we will survive two or three months, four months, half a year or one year -- that is making the situation even worse.

It is clear that Ukraine is supported by European structures, by a number of Western countries. In my opinion, the decision was made by the Ukrainian authorities, but not without the participation of some other parties. I think Ukraine will not give in. Moldova, too, is interested to see what happens in Transdniester society when the enterprises close. It would like seeing all coming to surrender and so on and so forth. It should be understood as well that when the situation bursts outside the framework of dialogue, when the situation gets out into the street, it is not clear who will use this situation and how, where the public of various opinions and different approaches will be flown to, because other rules will govern then.

RFE/RL: The main argument of Chisinau is that Tiraspol lives from smuggling. Does Transdniester really deal with smuggling businesses?

Shevciuk: Just like in Moldova! And like in Ukraine. And I have calculated that there are more smuggling cases in Moldova itself than one can count at the Moldovan-Ukrainian border or at the Moldovan-Romanian border, in comparison with the situation at the Transdniester-Ukrainian border.

But they keep saying that we smuggle across the border and so on. But they forget the following: there is a Ukrainian border, and there is a Moldovan border --two borders. The Moldovan side is very well trained, with high-class specialists, and we trust them all. But we don't trust the Ukrainian side. So it's all clear, let's invite international observers, and here they are - already on the spot.

Relying on forceful pressure simply lacks perspective. Because there are radical forces in Chisinau and, don't forget, they exist here, too. People who are now struggling for their rights and opinions and so on. When they will be pressed as tight as a spring and everyone realizes they are still powerful, then no one can guarantee that this spring will fight back somehow.

They have concluded that in principle some irregularities exist, but as a matter of fact I have not seen any proof. They could at least show us an automatic rifle, a rocket installation -- they say we have such installations, various systems, katyushas. Well, they exist, but there is another issue [to pay attention to]: producing these at state level, selling, and manufacturing are different things. They found nothing. And we can't do a thing about this! Can you imagine? We have invited the international community and they will work for a year and will report that Transdniester has nothing.

This worries us first of all in connection with the fact that we are being described as thieves, that we are manufacturing ammunition and weapons for some purposes, that we are making money from this. This makes us feel uncomfortable, not quite in a good mood relating to a partner who speaks so. Perhaps it has been misled by its own special services, I don't know the causes of this allegation.

RFE/RL: Will Transdniester stay in the negotiation process in the existing format?

Shevciuk: Yes, for the time being. I can't say anything about it. But I can say that we have planned a congress of deputies of all levels. It is planned for March 31, the end of March. If the situation [is not settled], deputies of all levels will gather to discuss this issue, including probably the question you just asked, about [continuing] negotiating with Moldova. As I understand, by that date, almost all the enterprises will be already closed. There will be a decision made, a political decision of all-level deputies, for a factual discussion of the issue at a popular plebiscite.

RFE/RL: Will this congress make any other decisions?

Shevciuk: I don't think there will be a decision concerning the integration with Moldova.

RFE/RL: If not a union with Moldova, and aside from independence, is there any other option? Ukraine or Russia, is that real?

Shevciuk: You understand that, in the given situation, there are various opinions here and people share different moods. Some say that, conditionally speaking, they would like to be a Russian region. Others talk about being in Ukraine, as it used to be before 1941. And some want only independence. But they all, or a majority, are united around one thing: anything, but not with Moldova.

There are formulas of democratic and constructive divorces, and this has to be done after the completion of the appropriate procedures. We have talked of course to the international structures and we have proposed this.

Unfortunately, we are now at a point of Moldovan-Transdniester relations where these [relations] can take any direction, including the interruption of all relations for a certain period of time, because anyway you can't walk into Europe or neglect a human mind, and you can't build a 3-meter-high fence along the Dniester River and stop here. In other words, again, this is a period which I would like to see in the past as soon as possible, because we need -- and so does Moldova -- to deal with economic development.

We start from the idea that Moldova will geographically remain with us all the time, and we shall be together, either way. The level of mistrust is very high and speaking about why it should be better within a common state -- this must be demonstrated. At the same time, all they are doing is trying to demonstrate the following: "We are taking away from you the possibility to work and, in order to work as you did before, you have to come to us, and we shall allow you something, in a certain form."

Relying on forceful pressure simply lacks perspective. Because there are radical forces in Chisinau and, don't forget, they exist here, too. People who are now struggling for their rights and opinions and so on. When they will be pressed as tight as a spring and everyone realizes they are still powerful, then no one can guarantee that this spring will fight back somehow.

I underline that these are not threats. Saying, "we'll simply strangle them and everything will be alright, everyone will walk under the Romanian flag, everyone will respond the Moldovan way of greeting...." I think this will not happen.