On March 27, sociological research “Perception, attitude and values of the population from the Left Bank of the Dniester” was presented in Bucharest. Public opinion of residents of unrecognized Transdniestria was studied by the CBS-AXA-Center of Sociological Investigations and Marketing Research (Republic of Moldova) for the Black Sea University Fund (Romania), which is headed by the famous Romanian scientist and publicist Dan Dungaciu.
According to the final report, the main commissioner of the research was the Romanian branch of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
The first thing that is particularly surprising is the maximum openness of results of the researchers’ work, held under the slogan “the first Romanian sociological study conducted in Transdniestria”. Results of the research were broadcast live, and the presentation was attended not only by journalists and experts, but also by ambassadors of Russia and Moldova Valery Kuzmin and Mihai Gribincea.
A few days before the event, ‘spoilers’ with research data came up on the Internet, which provoked even greater interest in this scientific research: one way or another, such a survey of political opinions in the Transdniestrian region by Romanian sociologists, followed by a public presentation, does not happen often.
The findings are no less intriguing and could have a serious impact on the situation around the Transdniestrian settlement.
What did the study show?
Based on the survey data, a wide audience was shown a picture of what a community of people living in the unrecognized Transdniestria is.
The main and unexpected finding of scientists was that the two banks of the Dniester river being close geographically are actually at a considerable distance from each other. Residents of the Left Bank live within a completely different frame of reference and, according to researchers, are in the civilizational space of the Russian Federation in terms of culture.
According to the data, for 30 years a separate society has formed on the Left Bank of the Dniester river that lives in its mental space and has its own attitude to both immediate neighbors and foreign countries, without hiding its position on the prospects of development and external benchmarks of its republic.
Here are just a few results that show the situation most clearly:
- 40% of residents of the Left Bank trust the army, 30% — the authorities of the unrecognized republic and local authorities. Less than 5% trust the Moldovan authorities;
- 31% still communicate with relatives and friends in Moldova.43% has no one in Moldova;
- More than 50% trust the media from Russia and Transdniestria itself. 18% trust the media from Moldova, but only to some extent;
- For 41% of the respondents, the main consequence of the Left Bank separation from Moldova is the independence of the ‘TMR’;
- 92% consider Russia to be the most suitable partner for Transdniestria, 2% responded the Republic of Moldova.
- 37% consider themselves Pridnestrovians, 35% – Russians, 14% – Moldovans. At the same time, 43 % believe that the identity “Russian” is most suitable for the residents of the Left Bank of the Dniester, 35% think it is “Pridnestrovian”.
Such results can be safely called Moscow’s propaganda, if the event had not been held in Bucharest, and the study had not been conducted by Romanian sociologists at the expense of the US.
The Ambassador of Russia could like the presented data, which can not be said about the Moldovan diplomat.
In fact, the event was attended by two officials of the Republic of Moldova, which are the Ambassador Mihai Gribincea, and famous Moldovan researcher and current member of Parliament Igor Munteanu. And if Munteanu frankly and simply made accusations against Tiraspol, Mr. Ambassador all of a sudden blamed sociologists. Most of all, Gribincea was outraged by the public use of the term “Pridnestrovian nation” and “Pridnestrovian identity” in Bucharest, which many considered Tiraspol’s ideological fiction before this research. The diplomat’s indignation was rather unceremoniously interrupted by one of the authors of the study: a little later it will become clear why.
Nervousness of representatives of Moldova is understandable: inaction, inattention and complete disregard by the Moldovan state of the population on the Left Bank led to the fact that the new generation of people there perceives itself completely apart. After almost 30 years, the aggregate index of the desire of the population in the region to live in alternative state configurations, but not in the common space with the Republic of Moldova, is still at a dangerously high level of 70-80%.
It should be noted that the main commissioner of the research was the United States, proving that it retains the greatest practical interest in this geographical space. The example of this study shows the fundamental difference between the work of American structures and local expert teams: Washington was interested in a specific real picture of what is happening in the opinion of the population, not political elites from the banks of the Dniester.
The main question remains why the shocking data for the Moldovan authorities was presented so openly and accentuated? If there was only scientific interest here, it would be enough for the commissioners to get acquainted with the findings and take them into account in their current work. Was its task to scare and force Chisinau to think hard about it? The last 30 years have shown that this is absolutely pointless.
Preparation of public opinion seems to be the case here: through the researchers Washington signals that a separate society has formed across the Dniester, which after 30 years of inaction is extremely difficult to integrate into the state structures of Moldova.
It is easy to understand who this signal is sent to: it is no coincidence that the ambassadors of Russia and Moldova were invited to the event. And if for the Moldovan diplomat the whole presentation looked like “compulsion to reality” (remember the sharp comment of the expert), Valery Kuzmin was given a clear message that “compromises are possible”.
Given the current situation around Kosovo, this study cannot be considered in isolation from the Serbian-Kosovo settlement: potentially possible exchanges between Washington and Moscow on the resolution of protracted conflicts are likely to begin in the Balkans. The American-Romanian study in Transdniestria can be considered a ‘go-ahead’ about the readiness of the American administration to start implementing a joint plan for the ‘exchange’ of territories: Kosovo’s independence in exchange for recognition of Transdniestria.
The second signal to the Russian Ambassador is that Washington is ready to agree with the logic of Moscow that the Left Bank will gain independence in case of absorption of Moldova by Romania. At this point, the Ambassador of Moldova Mihai Gribincea should have rejoiced. Presentation of the study in Bucharest is a hint at the possible acceleration of unirea and the division of the two banks of the Dniester, which, as unbiased sociology shows, will be difficult to unite.
The offer to Bucharest is to limit appetites to the territory of the right-bank Moldova and get it very soon. The offer to Moscow is not to prevent the absorption of Moldova and not to interfere with the recognition of Kosovo. Chisinau is not offered anything – the fate of Moldova will be decided, without the participation of the country’s officials.
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