The history of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic
The struggle of pridnestrovian people for human and civil rights against militant nationalism of Moldova starts in the course of a political strike in 1989.
No doubt this phenomenon is unique, because nobody has ever showed such unity, determination and consistency in actions in the former USSR. The determinant role in the organization of the resistance to the Moldavian nationalism, in the formation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic to the absolutely new social structure having been generated by people’s initiative- the United Council of Working Collectives. It led the working movement to a higher level.
Only working people, supported by technical intellectuals and the sympathy of peasants, could utterly oppose to nationalistic hysteria in Kishinev, to chauvinistic slogans such as “Suitcase – station – Russia!” “Invaders off!” “Let’s drown Russians in Jewish blood!”etc. Only workers resolved to start an unprecedented action – a political strike – while powerful party officials carried out the policy of persuasion and reconciliation towards nationalists.
The direct reason for the strike was a cardinal change of the project of the language law. It was an absolute capitulation to the requirements of the National Front and expulsion of the Russian language from politics, economics and culture.
The United Council of working collectives of Tiraspol was formed on August, 11. On August,16 a two-hour strike was held; over 27000 people took part in it.
A large-scale strike started on August,21. Day after day new collectives of enterprises, institutions and organizations of Tiraspol, Kishinev, Bendery, Rybnitsa, Komrat, Dubossary, Grigoriopol, Kamenka and others joined the strike.
The Republican Strike Committee was formed for the coordination of strikers’ actions on August,26. However, the authorities continued ignoring a main demand of strikers – the establishment of two state languages (Moldavian and Russian) in Moldavia. Discriminating language laws were adopted.
Then the Strike Committee lifted all restrictions on the strike and it spread to a great extent.
211 collectives were on strike on September, 12, over 400 collectives showed their solidarity with strikers.
The arrival of deputies from Moscow, a personal request to stop the strike, Gorbachev’s promise to solve the problem, the consideration of the proposition concerning the necessity of giving an official status to the Russian language at the Plenum of the Central Committee of the Communist party – all those facts revived hopes for the interference of the central government; the strike was stopped. As it turned out later, those expectations were destined to fail.
The main achievement of the strike in 1989 was the realisation of the power and necessity of united actions of the representatives of working collectives. Just then the alliance of three main industrial centres of Pridnestrovie (Tiraspol, Rybnitsa, Bendery) was formed. Later the struggle for the formation of the Republic was headed by that alliance. Just then it became clear that the local party authorities couldn’t be relied on, because they were ready to betray and sell anybody.
The representatives of working people succeeded the out-of-date party elite which didn’t want to lose its power.
The United Committees of working collectives stimulated the political education and activity of the masses both in cities and in villages. Owing to their tireless work referendums and meetings of people for the formation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic were held.
The informative bulletins in Tiraspol, Bendery, Rybnitsa played an important role in uniting and organising of pridnestrovian people. The bulletin “Tiraspol on strike” managed to overcome the informative blockade and to report the truth to very distant places.
A series of fighters for the Republic appeared in the course of the strike owing to hot discussions at plants, debates with representatives of the National Front of Moldova, uneasy dialogues with the authorities. Among them there was a person who gradually became a leader of pridnestrovian people – Igor Nikolaevich Smirnov.
When the strike was stopped, the problem of conducting local referendums concerning the autonomy of Pridnestrovie became urgent. The referendum was held in Rybnitsa on December,3,1989; it was held in Tiraspol on January,28,1990.
91,9 per cent of population in Rybnitsa and 96 per cent of population in Tiraspol voted for the formation of the Pridnestrovian Autonomous Soviet Social Republic. The Pridnestrovians voted for the international fraternity, the equality of nations and the right to speak their native language without any discrimination.
At the same time elections to the local government and the Supreme Soviet of MSSR were being prepared.
The representatives of working collectives won the elections on February,25,1990.
At the session of the City Council of Tiraspol Igor Smirnov was elected its chairman. From that moment he became a leader of dwellers of Tiraspol, and then a leader of all pridnestrovians.
The opinion of the pridnestrovian deputies who had been elected to the Supreme Soviet of the Moldavian Soviet Social Republic (MSSR) was completely ignored there. They were under the hard pressure of the members of the National Front. Moreover, it was both psychological pressure and insulting, even beating by toughs. Nobody was interested in the opinion of the minority under the circumstances.
As soon as the deputies from Pridnestrovie realised that a parliamentary way of the struggle was blocked because of the absence of the democracy in the mononational state – the Republic of Moldova – they directed all their efforts to the search of other ways for the protection of the rights and interests of pridnestrovian people.
When the Declaration of Sovereignty was adopted by the Moldavian parliament (it meant a withdrawal of Moldavia from the USSR), it was useless to insist on the autonomy as a part of the Republic of Moldova. Firstly, the Pridnestrovians were against the decay of the USSR; secondly, it was illegitimate to include Tiraspol, Grigoriopol, Dubossary, Rybnitsa, Slobodzeya and Kamenka districts in MSSR according to the conclusion of the commission concerning the formation of MSSR in 1940. (the Pact of Molotov-Ribbentrop)
Thus, the officials of Kishinev, who tried to practise the program of the National Front, prompted the idea of the formation of an independent republic
It was decided to hold a congress of deputies of all levels (from rural Soviets to the Supreme Soviet of People’s Deputies). The congress of that kind had never been held. It didn’t contradict the existing legislation, moreover, it testified to the devotion of the democracy.
The huge preparatory and explanatory work was necessary, especially in rural districts. It was also necessary to find sympathizers and to persuade those who had doubts. It was extremely difficult because in rural settlements a lot of nationalists were in power, there were some skirmishes with the members of the National Front and nationalists from the police forces.
That huge and responsible work was done by deputies of the Supreme Soviet of MSSR elected by working collectives of Pridnestrovie with the help of the members of the United Council of working collectives of Tiraspol and the members of the Strike Committee of Rybnitsa.
The first congress of people’s deputies of MSSR, city, regional and rural Soviets of Pridnestrovie was held on June,2,1990 in the village Parkany. 673 deputies were present there. As a result the deputies passed the Declaration of the social and economic development of Pridnestrovie and elected the members of the Coordinating Council of the social and economic development of the region headed by Igor Smirnov. The function of the Council was the coordination of actions throughout Pridnestrovie. The formation of the republic proceeded at great speed.
After the first congress referendums were held in Bendery, Rybnitsa district, Dubossary and Slobodzeya districts; there were meetings in settlements of Kamensky district. On November, 25 a referendum was held in Grigoriopol district.
The fact that the majority of the Moldavians supported the idea of the formation of the republic was rather significant.
Here are the results of the referendum concerning the formation of the republic:
A total number of voters were 471.907. 79 per cent (370.101) took part in the referendum;95,8 per cent of those who took part in it and 75,3 per cent of the total number of electors, voted for the formation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Soviet Social Republic
Definitely, pridnestrovian people supported the formation of their own statehood as means of the protection of rights and freedom of present and future generations.
On September, 2, 1990, the second extraordinary congress of deputies of all levels was held in Tiraspol, where the formation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic was proclaimed. The Supreme Soviet of 50 members was also elected. Igor Smirnov became its chairman. The resolutions of the Supreme Soviet were extremely valuable. Being based on the fact of the existence of the Moldavian Autonomous Soviet Social Republic in 1924-1940 and on the free will of people living not only on the left bank, but in a number of settlements of the right bank of the Dnester the deputies took really fateful decisions. The name of the Republic showed the aspiration of the Pridnestrovians to protect and preserve the Moldavian ethnos, its culture and originality.
All following events proved and still keep on proving that the decision concerning the formation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, created by the most democratic way in the world (according to will of its people), was absolutely right.
But the reaction of the authorities in Kishinev to the striving of the Pridnestrovians to protect their rights was inadequate – a treacherous invasion of the police forces of Moldova, killing disarmed workers in Dubossary in November, 1990; arrests and prosecution of pridnestrovian deputies in August, 1991; the second invasion of the police forces; a monthly blockade of Dubossary; the first armed conflict in December,1991.
The climax of the conflict was a large-scale aggression in March-August,1992. That war demonstrated “the triumph” of the dictatorial principle. It showed the contemptuous unwillingness to pay attention to the suffering and expectations of the people who were considered to be their own and at the same time were fired at.
Acts of terrorism towards peaceful dwellers, a destruction of installations pertaining to the national economy, murders of the deputy of the Supreme Soviet of the Soviet Social Republic Moldova – Ostapenko N. I. and the leader of the working movement – Gusar A.D., mass murders of inhabitants in Dubossary and Bendery (over 600.000 people perished)
However, God is not in violence, but in truth, and the truth was on the side of the Pridnestrovians.
Pridnestrovian people realizing their right, asserted their choice, having united in an evil hour of ordeal despite a huge preponderance of the army forces and equipment, police forces and volunteer units of the Republic of Moldova. The old and the youth, men and women, regular military men, irregulars, veterans, Cossacks, the Moldavians, Russians, Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Germans, Jews, Poles, united on impulse, defended their Republic.
The most important problem at all stages of the formation and consolidation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic was the state construction based on ideological principles of equality of all people, equal functioning of the Moldavian language (based on the Cyrillic alphabet), the Ukrainian and Russian languages, the priority of human rights, keeping traditional interrelations, spiritual and cultural values, equality of all kinds of property, the acceptance of important state resolutions based on national referenda.
Legitimating of those principles provided the interethnic peace and harmony, political stability, political and civil activism, a highly skilled personnel and intellectual potential.
For past years Pridnestrovie has turned from some isolated administrative units of former MSSR into a modern state with all attributes and institutions of power.
Moreover, the priority in the state formation was determined according to vital needs and goals, dictated by internal and external circumstances.
In November,1990, the first Supreme Soviet of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic was elected; the formation of the state legislative basis started. The deputies were not professional parliamentarians and served at the supreme legislative body without giving up their work. They had a hard and responsible duty to create the legislative basis of a new state. Moreover the deputies were doing their work under the hardest conditions of an economic and information blockade of the Republic, under circumstances of unprecedented political pressure of officials in Kishinev.
The executive bodies of the Republic were being formed at that time; at first, the post of the Chairman of the Republic and then the post of the President of the Republic were established.
The first constitution of the Pridnestrovian state was adopted. The general presidential elections and referendum concerning the independence of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic were held in 1991. Igor Smirnov became the President of the Republic.
Law-enforcement and judicial bodies came within the jurisdiction of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic of their own free will; the formation of the armed forces of the Republic began.
The budget of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic and the budget of the Republic of Moldova had been divided which led to economic independence of Pridnestrovie. A lot of enterprises, institutions and organisations came within the jurisdiction of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. It was settled in a democratic way – by working collectives.
In 1994 a currency note of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic (a pridnestrovian rouble) was put into circulation.
In 1996 Igor Smirnov was elected the President of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic for the second time. 71.94 per cent of electors voted for him.
The state formation wasn’t stopped during last years; it was being adapted steadily to internal and external factors. If the first Constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic was a copy of the Constitution of the USSR to a certain extent with all institutions of power of that time, then a new Constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, being adopted at the general referendum in December, 1995, established a parliamentary presidential republic, based on a principle of a power division.
Afterwards, it became clear that a success of the state formation was in the right combination of the legislative, executive and judicial power. The power division made it possible to avoid a diktat and ensured a mutual control and effective work at all stages of the elaboration of a resolution, its adoption and putting in practice.
On June, 22, 2000, the constitutional majority of deputies (two thirds of votes) voted for the adoption of a new version of the Constitution. It was a transition to the presidential republic.
The President of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic executes traditional duties as well as a duty of the Chairman of the Cabinet; he has power to cancel any resolution adopted by ministers and at the same time he bears responsibility for the Cabinet activity.
When a new version of the Constitution was adopted the number of ministries was twice reduced as compared with the structure of the former government. It became possible to cut down administrative expenses and to increase the efficiency of the work of the government.
The new version of the Constitution of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is a well-balanced system of the mutual restraint and counter-balance between the legislative and executive branches of the government.
In 2002 the Supreme Soviet of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic formed the supreme judicial body- the Constitutional Court – to ensure a principle of a power division, to guarantee responsibility of a state to citizens and responsibility of citizens to a state.
When the Pridnestrovians started to form a state, having no experience, their knowledge, skill and creative potential were the only support. The main criteria of the state formation were ensuring of all aspects of the state security – economic, military, ecological, educational, etc; the consolidation of a constitutional state system, the economic development and the improvement of the welfare of the population.
Nowadays the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic is a self-sufficient, effectively governed state, according to ratings of foreign experts who are difficult to suspect of a particular sympathy.
In December,2002, Igor Smirnov was elected the President of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic for the third time. 62.9 per cent of voters took part in elections, 81.8 per cent voted for Igor Smirnov. It shows that the Pridnestrovians have much confidence in their President.
Thirteen years have passed since the formation of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. It’s a drop in the ocean as compared with the history of a human civilization. But for people living here, in Pridnestrovie, their state became a kind of the protection from the arbitrariness, violence and a peremptory diktat of the Republic of Moldova. The Moldavian ethnos, language and culture were preserved in our state created by pridnestrovian people and their free will. The Slavic cultures traditional for this region, the education and science, respectful interrelations of people of different nationalities are kept and strengthened here. The vital fundamentals of life of all people and each citizen of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic are preserved in our state.
The Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic has succeeded as a state. It is new and it aspires to the future.