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Transnistrian party-building: a new or well-forgotten past?

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Maxim Kuzovlev / March 18, 2007
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A building boom was observed in Transnistria last year. In particular, political parties were built. The boom slowed down much this year. Perhaps the winter is the cause? Or the number of parties per capita is already enough?

The Democratic People’s Party Proriv (daughter of the known scandalous public organisation Proriv of known controversial ideologist Dimitri Soin), the Republican Party Obnovlenye (created on basis of the social-political movement Obnovlenye built in 2000), LDPR Transnistria (branch of the known Russian party), Patriotic Party of Transnistria (known most for being headed by one of sons of Igor Smirnov, Oleg Smirnov) and Transnistria’s Narodnaya Volya were created last year.

The Party of Communists of Transnistria and the Transnistrian Communist Party are also working in the region. There are two parties of this ideological orientation at present, but there were more formerly. There were up to five parties of Marxism-Leninism adepts. But they had never had a serious influence on political life in Transnistria, wasting their energy on clarifying which of them are most communist.

In essence, the appearance of so many political parties in Transnistria in 2006 was a result of societal developments in Transnistria.

Also, there is an opinion that many political parties were built in 2006 because various financial-economic groups appeared and developed in the region, and they are trying to meet their own interests via these political parties (for example Obnovlenie, which holds a majority of seats in the Transnistrian “parliament” and is headed by its “speaker” Evgheni Shevchyuk, is actually the political representative of the Sheriff firm).

Some describe this process as a try of the Smirnov administration to demonstrate to the international community (which does not pay attention to development of democratic institutions in Transnistria) that the majority of population in the breakaway region supports the actions of the acting “president” of the unrecognised republic and the course of his foreign policy, aimed at approaching to/ joining Russia (depending on efforts in direction of foreign policy).

In addition, I have heard an opinion that may be formulated this way. These processes are nothing but the result of action of both internal and external factors on existing quasi-state and public institutions in the region.

A new party was built in late February — the Transnistrian Republican Party (TRP). It was born by Respublica (republican social-political union), which was created in 2004 for the parliamentary elections. TRP is actually a state-run structure and, therefore, it follows appropriate goals and tasks. Respublica is headed by General Alexandr Korolyov, acting “vice president”, “former interior minister”. TRP is led by Vladimir Rilyakov, director of a Moldovan-German enterprise, head of the Tiraspol municipal council in the early 1990s, who held later different offices linked to foreign economic activity of Transnistria.

There is an interesting detail. TRP seeks the modification of the Transnistrian electoral legislation and conduct of elections on party lists. Under electoral legislation in effect, elections take place on plurality-majority system basis. The desire of this party recalls Russian trends in electoral process.

Many things are done in Transnistria on Russian tracing paper, including in party-building sector. Few people remember today with how much success, noise and how scandalously the Yedinstvo of Transnistria was created and how it worked with the sign of a brown bear, a twin brother of the bear that features the Russian Yedinstvo Party. But where is now the Yedinstvo of Transnistria, which garnered most of votes in the 2000–2005 parliament of the 3rd legislature? It has disappeared and nobody remembers it.

The propaganda of new parties usually speaks about the “increasing role and the place in life of society,” repeats the history of social-political movements, mentions former parties (the Democratic Party Pridnestrovye (1991), the Party of Economic Freedom (1992), and others). Surprisingly, no one remembers the Transnistrian Yedinstvo Party. Forget about it. It was once upon a time. This is “a new stage of party-building.”

None of political parties aim at reintegration with Moldova. And probably this is not a surprise.

Under Transnistrian legislation, branches of foreign parties are prohibited in the region. But this restriction may be easily neglected by registering branches of parties, complying the statuses and goals of programmes with local realities. LDPR Transnistria is an eloquent example in this respect.

But do parties enjoy the support of population? It is hard to say it. I have never met ardent and convincing members of parties of any orientation. If one canvasses the Obnovlenye, for example, he is paid for this activity. But I think that if a canvasser is proposed more for his sorrowful work to “burn the hearts of people”, he will change his visions.

In fact, as everywhere. Though, it’s true, in a Transnistrian manner…

Perception of foreign relations (Part II) Local elections 2007