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Saturday, July 08, 2006

More Successful Separatist Attacks under Putin

As the New York Times reports, once again Vladimir Putin's policies prove unable to secure peace in the region:

MOSCOW, July 6 — A powerful explosion killed at least seven people on a minibus in the separatist region of Moldova on Thursday, the region's interior minister said. At least 26 others were injured, some gravely, suggesting the death toll could rise.

The minister did not immediately link the blast to terrorism or to simmering tensions in the region, Transnistria, a self-declared republic that broke away from Moldova after a brief civil war in the early 1990's.

"We do not consider this an act of terrorism at the moment, since we do not have any information that this act was aimed at destabilizing the republic," the minister, Maj. Gen. Vladimir Y. Antyufeyev, said in a telephone interview from Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria. "We do not attach any political coloring to this crime." The cause, though, was unclear, and some news reports cited other officials warning of new tensions and even violence with Moldova.

Transnistria, a tiny ribbon of territory populated largely by ethnic Russians and Ukrainians, has had tense relations with Moldova for years, but since the fighting ended in 1992 relatively few outbreaks of violence have occurred and no bombings linked to either side have been reported.

The explosion occurred when the minibus stopped at a red light as it headed toward Tiraspol's center during the morning rush. The force of the blast destroyed the bus, hurling its roof and other parts hundreds of feet and leaving only its wrenched chassis, photographs and television images showed. Lenta PNR, a regional news agency, said the dead were among 12 people on the minibus. The agency and others put the death toll at 8. A larger trolley bus idling next to the minibus was severely damaged, as was a car.

The dead included a military nurse serving with a Russian peacekeeping force that has remained in Transnistria since the fighting in 1992 after its declaration of independence from Moldova. A captain and sergeant from the Russian force of 1,500 were among those injured.

General Antyufeyev called the bombing the region's worst act of violence since its secession. He estimated that the force of the blast was equivalent to three to five pounds of explosives, but he said it was not clear if the explosives were a bomb intentionally planted on the bus.

Ukraine investigators arrived in Tiraspol, and experts from Russia's Federal Security Service were expected on Friday. General Antyufeyev said his counterpart in Moldova offered condolences and help, though the latter was turned down.

Diplomatic tensions have risen since Moldova and Ukraine, which borders Transnistria to the east, imposed customs restrictions in March on goods shipped out of the region.

The two countries, with the support of the European Union and the United States, have been trying to propel talks aimed at settling the conflict.

1 comment:

La Russophobe said...

A reader comments as follows, by e-mail:

The thing is that I have spent quite a bit of time in Moldova and I know why authorities on either side of the Dniester are not that sure about the terrorist nature of the trolley-bus exlosion. I am not sure either, and here's the reason: production of arms and ammunition (including high explosives) is one of the most important industrial activities in Trans-Dniestria; large parts of the population are involved in it in one way or another. Smuggling and trafficking in these things is also a very common "economic activity". It is perfectly plausible that a person on a trolley-bus would carry this amount of explosives with no intention of blowing himself himself or anybody else up. It may well have been an accident.

While I have not been in Trans-Dniestria myself, people on the Moldovan side tell all sorts of stories about the arms- and ammunition-business in Tiraspol. There's a thriving black-market for the stuff and regular people who are unfortunate enough to live in that hell-hole often consider it business as usual.


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