CHISINAU -- A Moldovan NGO says a spy row between Ukraine and Russia shows that Moscow's peacekeepers in Moldova's separatist Transdniester region "have other duties" than keeping the peace, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports.
Ukraine's intelligence service said on February 2 that some of the five Russians arrested in the Odesa region last week on espionage charges were Russian officers who are stationed in Transdniester.
Ion Manole, chairman of the Association for Human Rights Promo-LEX, said in Chisinau today that the espionage controversy should be one more reason for Moldova to demand the quick withdrawal of Russian troops from Transdniester.
Transdniester is Moldova's easternmost region and is dominated by Russian speakers. It declared independence during the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1990 and fought a short war against the army of the pro-Romanian government in Chisinau two years later.
The cease-fire that ended the fighting has been monitored by several hundred Russian troops and local Transdniestrian forces on one side and Moldovan soldiers on the other.
Moldovan officials have requested several times that all Russian forces leave Transdniester and take their large weapon stockpiles with them.
Moscow committed itself in the OSCE 1999 summit declaration to withdraw all of its troops by the end of 2002. There are still some 350 Russian troops in Transdniester.