Independence Leads to Political and Financial Unrest
Conflict between ethnic Romanians and the
Russian-Ukrainian majority in Trans-Dniester erupted upon independence.
Trans-Dniester separatists (primarily ethnic Russians and Ukrainians)
fought for independence from Moldova in 1992; about 1,500 died in the
conflict. Unrest continues in Trans-Dniester, which has become a lawless
haven for smuggling and other criminal activity. In the south, Gagauz,
which is composed mostly of Turkic Christians, has also attempted
The Russian financial crisis in fall 1998
severely affected Moldova, which relied on Russia for 60 percent of its foreign
trade. Economic disaster caused an exodus of an estimated 600,000
Moldovans. Moldova is considered the poorest country in Europe. In Feb.
2001, the Communist Party won an overwhelming victory in parliamentary
elections, and its leader, Vladimir Voronin, became prime minister.
Voronin has attempted to forge closer relations with Moscow, thus sparking
protests among those who advocate for closer cultural and ethnic ties to
In parliamentary elections in March 2005, the
Communist Party—formerly aligned with Russia but recently becoming more
pro-Western—won 46% of the vote. In April, President Voronin was reelected
president, and he in turn reappointed Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev.
On March 19, 2008, Prime Minister Vasile Tarlev
resigned unexpectedly, saying that he had achieved his goals and he felt
it was time for new blood in government. President Vladimir Voronin
nominated a new candidate for prime minister, Zinaida Greceanii.
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