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Breakaway Bride And Groom: Transdniester Leader To Wed 'Foreign Minister'

Transdniester's Yevgeny Shevchuk (left) and Nina Shtanski are set to be married, and she will take a new job.
Transdniester's Yevgeny Shevchuk (left) and Nina Shtanski are set to be married, and she will take a new job.

"Do you, Separatist Leader, take this Self-Styled Former Foreign Minister as your lawfully wedded wife?

"De facto, I do."

That's how the wedding vows might go when the leader of Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region, Yevgeny Shevchuk, marries Nina Shtanski, who serves as the territory's top diplomat.

The stylish Shtanski will step down to take "another job," Shevchuk told a news conference on August 31. "She will soon fulfill the obligations of the president's wife," he was quoted as saying.

But will their marriage be recognized? Their region isn't.

A sliver of land inhabited mainly by speakers of Russian and Ukrainian, Transdniester declared independence from then-Soviet Moldova in 1990 and fought a war with Moldovan forces in 1992. It has support from Moscow and hosts some 1,400 Russian troops, but is not recognized by any country.

Shevchuk, 47, was elected "president" in 2011. Shtanski, 38, was appointed as "foreign minister" in January 2012, weeks after Shevchuk took office.

Shtanski may hope that her wedding precedes a more momentous union: She said last year that Transdniester is "Russian land" and made clear she hopes it will become part of Russia -- a goal she called "the will of the people."

No date has been announced for the nuptials, but when the big day comes, the bride and groom are sure to be wished a joyful lifetime together.

If it doesn't work out, however, the separatists could separate -- a split within a split.

Meanwhile, Shevchuk and Shtanski are not the only high-profile couple in Moldova planning to tie the knot.

Wedding bells are also ringing in the Moldovan capital, Chisinau, whose longtime mayor announced very publicly on August 31 that he was engaged -- and not a moment too soon, according to some supporters.

Mayor Dorin Chirtoaca broke the news to a big crowd gathered in Chisinau's central square for National Language Day, shortly after presenting a ring to Anisoara Loghin, a TV presenter.

In office since 2007, Chirtoaca has portrayed himself as a workaholic who is married to his city and his job.

According to Moldovan media, he was under pressure from supporters -- not least his uncle Mihai Ghimpu, who heads the Liberal Party -- to put his bachelor days behind him and settle down.

With reporting by RFE/RL's Moldovan Service, AP, and Novosti Pridnestrovya
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    Steve Gutterman

    Steve Gutterman is the editor of the Russia/Ukraine/Belarus Desk in RFE/RL's Central Newsroom in Prague and the author of The Week In Russia newsletter. He lived and worked in Russia and the former Soviet Union for nearly 20 years between 1989 and 2014, including postings in Moscow with the AP and Reuters. He has also reported from Afghanistan and Pakistan as well as other parts of Asia, Europe, and the United States.

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