How can Russia's presidential elections affect Pridnestrovie?

02/19/18 19:29

How can Russia's presidential elections affect Pridnestrovie?

The presidential election is a difficult stage for Russia, experts believe. The outcome of the vote depends not only on how the internal political process will proceed in the future but also on the country's foreign policy, including towards Pridnestrovie. Novosti Pridnestrovya asked ex-foreign minister Vladimir Yastrebchak and director of the Institute for Socio-Political Research and Regional Development Igor Shornikov about the significance of the Russian presidential elections for the PMR and Russia itself.

The election of the head of state in presidential republics is always a very difficult and crucial stage, and Russia is no exception, Igor Shornikov believes. Along with the process of transferring power, the political elite is being renewed, and in the case of a change of the head of state, cardinally renewed.

"The country is in the process of finding a new course even a year after the elections, balancing the interests of various intra-elite groups, so certain losses are unavoidable. The main thing is that these losses should be minimised," notes the expert.

As Vladimir Yastrebchakunderscores, even if the sitting president wins elections, a new government is formed anyway according to the constitution, and it might include new faces. And this again means adjusting domestic, and perhaps foreign, policies. By the way, it is after the 2018 elections, according to experts, large-scale reforms in the economy will be launched in Russia. At the same time, three programs of economic reforms are being developed simultaneously by the Stolypin Club, the Center for Strategic Research and, in fact, the Ministry of Economic Development of the Russian Federation.

Double importance

However significant the presidential elections might be for Russia itself, it is not only the domestic factor that is important. The Russian Federation is one of the key players in world politics; therefore, the future political agenda both in Europe and abroad depends to a large extent on who is "at the helm"' in Russia. So, it is not surprising that the result of the Russsian elections can influence the future of Pridnestrovie.

"Although we consider ourselves to be part of the Russian world and some Russian internal programs work in our country, Pridnestrovie for Russia is primarily a foreign policy issue," said Igor Shornikov. And this means that Russian-Pridnestrovian relations directly depend on Russia's foreign policy, the determination of which, according to the Russian constitution, is attributed to the powers of the president.

At the same time, the expert draws attention to the fact that despite all the statements of Russian diplomats on the recognition of the territorial integrity of Moldova, in practice, the Russian Federation continues to support Pridnestrovie. And in recent years, this assistance has only increased, and the perception of the PMR in Russia itself has changed significantly over time.

"Moscow has realised the significance of Pridnestrovie in the context of Russian foreign policy, realised that Russia has its own interests here and only Pridnestrovie defends them merely through an objective fact of its existence," Shornikov believes.

And this means that Pridnestrovie is interested in preserving the continuity of the Russian foreign policy course.

However, according to Vladimir Yastrebchak, even if as a result of the current elections in Russia the head of state changes, this does not mean that Russia will immediately turn its back to the PMR and relations between the two countries will be severed. Although the institution of the president has a decisive influence on the country's foreign policy, this is not the only variable in this equation. Much depends on the place of the state in the already formed system of international relations since the interests of Russia, as well as any other country, can hardly radically change right away.

"It would probably be foolish to deny that much depends on the role of personality... Have a look at Trump. A man jumped out like an enfant terrible, capable of outbursts, obstinate acts and anything of the kind. But nevertheless, he was forced to act in line with the political course that had been formed before him," the expert notes.

A small step forward

Although Russia and Pridnestrovie are closely linked by common history, culture, values, one should not take good relations between the two countries as something self-evident. It is necessary to work to ensure they will remain as such, Vladimir Yastrebchak believes. And one of such steps on the part of Pridnestrovie towards Russia can be the participation of the country's residents in Russia's presidential elections.

At the same time, one should not forget that in Moldova in 2018 there will also be an electoral process - parliamentary elections, the expert underscores.

"And whether we want it or not, but we will compare the number of Pridnestrovians who will take part in the Russian elections and the number of those who will come to the polls in Moldova. It is important to take part in the former to show that we are not only talking about integration in Russia, but we want to participate in its political process, we care about its future," he continues.

It will hardly take more than half an hour to come to one of the polling stations and put a tick in a ballot. And though ultimately the vote of the Pridnesgtrovian is unlikely to influence Russia's future, but it may well influence Russia's future in Pridnestrovie and Pridnestrovie's as part of Russia. Whether it's worth 30 minutes of your time, it's up to you.

Alexey Kovalev


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