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Can Russia Afford Transnistria?

Transnistria’s president says his region’s economy is slipping as economic troubles in Russia continue. (Photo: OSCE/Igor Schimbator)

Fifty-eight-year-old Veronica Zinici, a pensioner from the separatist territory of Transnistria, recently traveled to the Moldovan capital Chișinău to seek medical treatment. She also brought with her a tale of hardship.

Zinici told EurasiaNet.org that she stopped receiving Russian-supplied monthly pension-supplements of 200 rubles ($3.16) last summer. With lower pensions and “considerably higher” prices for food, utilities and medicine, life in the breakaway, pro-Russian territory is becoming increasingly hard. "Luckily, we're living in a village and we have vegetables, [and] fruits [planted] around the house and we can survive with that,” she said.

Zinici’s story is far from an exception for Transnistria these days. The region is home to a few hundred thousand residents, most of them ethnic Russians and Ukrainians. It secured de-facto independence from Moldova in 1992, when local separatists, backed by Russian military units, beat back the Moldovan army. Since then, the territory’s survival has depended on the presence of Russian peacekeeping troops and on Kremlin subsidies.

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Can Russia Afford Transnistria?

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