/ Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic
   Once an Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR) within Ukraine, this small strip of land east of the Dnestr River was combined with territory annexed from Romania in 1940 to create the Moldovan Soviet Socialist Republic (SSR). During the late 1980s, a nationalist movement among ethnic Moldovans, Romanians in all ways but their Cyrillic script, prompted fears among Slavs and other Russophones living in the heavily industrialized areas that had once been part of Soviet Ukraine.
   In 1990, local politicians proclaimed the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic, a move condemned by the leadership in the Moldovan capital of Chişinău. Fierce fighting soon broke out between republican and separatist forces, the latter backed by Russian-speaking volunteer militias and Cossack regiments. The violence only increased in ferocity after Moldova gained independence from the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) in 1991. After the arrival of Aleksandr Lebed in the summer of 1992 and the intervention of the pro-separatist Russian 14th Army, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur and Boris Yeltsin hammered out a cease-fire that stipulated the ultimate withdrawal of Russian troops from Transnistria, which was granted “special status” within Moldova. Domestic concerns over the safety of ethnic Russians in the province, however, prevented the State Duma from ratifying the agreed troop withdrawals.
   While Moscow reaffirmed its commitment to leave Transnistria in 1999 at an Istanbul summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the 2002 deadline was never met. Since the conflict was frozen in 1992, Transnistria has developed into a mafia-run statelet under de facto Russian economic control. Like Belarus, the republic continues to maintain Soviet-era controls on prices and guarantees wages. Former union organizer Igor Smirnov has ruled the self-proclaimed republic since 1991. A 2006 referendum in Transnistria saw support for unification with the Russian Federation; however, the poll was not recognized by the international community and Moscow does not officially sanction the state’s declaration of independence from Moldova.
   In 2004, the breakaway republic attracted worldwide attention when authorities closed several schools that were using the Latin alphabet for the Moldovan (Romanian) language; continuing controversy over pedagogy has resulted in a steady Russification of the education system.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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