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Separatist leader trusts only Russian peacekeepers

Igor Smirnov, president of the breakaway Moldovan region of Transdniester, said on 31 August that Chisinau's policy towards Tiraspol has taken "the form of a state-waged robbery under the banners of democracy and human rights observance". Smirnov added during a press conference that "the Moldovan economic blockade has inflicted $56 million in damages on Transdniester -- half of the $110 million budget".

Asserting that Tiraspol is ready to resume negotiations with Chisinau and international mediators on the Transdniester settlement, Smirnov opined that any future peacekeeping operation in Transdniester can be conducted "only under Russia's leadership".

Smirnov concluded his statement:"One may consider other variants, including a peacekeeping mission under OSCE aegis, but nevertheless the Russian Federation must play a leading role in it. Our people trust Russian peacekeepers. Russia is present here because it has always been here".

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