Russian peacekeepers will not leave Transdniestria, official says

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Sunday, October 30, 2005

Russian peacekeepers will stay in the Transnistrian region until adoption of a political decision on change of their mandate, Russian Defence Minister Sergei Ivanov has told Russian journalists. Also, Ivanov claims that Russia does not insist on an exclusive right to peacekeeping mission in the region, although Chisinau's appeals to change the make-up of the operation have not received support and have not been introduced in the agenda of the negotiations from October 27-28.

In a discussion with Russian journalists Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev accused Tiraspol of illegal sale of Russian weapons (that would have been used in Beslan too), but his statement was refuted by Russian and Chechen officials.

Ivanov stated: "I stake my life that no munitions left the Russian military bases". Transdniestria has its own army that can defend very well its own depots, Ivanov added.

Minister Ahmed Dakaev, Chechnya's Deputy Home Affairs, as stating that he knows nothing about the sale of munitions from Transdniestrian to Chechnya. He qualifies these statements as political.

Of the Transdniestrian foreign department Vitalie Ignatiev said rumors about the illegal sale of weapons from Transdniestrian exist for more than 15 years but nobody could prove it. He has also refuted Moldovan Prime Minister’s statements and sought evidence.

The 1999 OSCE summit in Istanbul had obliged the Russian Federation to withdraw its troops and ammunition from Moldova. Russia interrupted the process two years ago under pretext that Tiraspol delays the withdrawal of weapons from the region.