When I was reporting on events in Moldova this week, a source asked me why no one was talking about Gagauzia.
"You should look on the right bank of the Nistru [Dniester] River. Look at the decisions taken by the Bascan [governor] of Gagauzia, the National Assembly of Gagauzia, and the left-wing leaders. Here lies a source of insecurity," said Victoria Rosa, a member of the Foreign Policy Association of Moldova's board.
"The Moldovan national authorities have banned the symbols used by the Russian Federation during the war in Ukraine, including the orange and black St. George’s ribbon, which is associated with the Second World War victory," Rosa continued.
"Afterwards, Gagauzia’s Bascan, Irina Vlah, signed a document adopted by the Gagauz National Assembly allowing the use of the ribbon on Gagauz territory, thus violating national legislation. The Gagauz leaders continue to play the card of social division, thus showing loyalty to the Russian Federation even though for years they have been receiving development assistance from the EU and EU member states."
I admit that Gagauzia is not a region I think about very much. Suddenly everyone seems to be talking about Transnistria and whether Russia's war will spread there. But Gagauzia is still somewhat off the radar.
So here's a quick primer on the place:
WHO: Gagauzia is an autonomous region within the Republic of Moldova. It's populated by the Gagauz, a Turkic Orthodox Christian people. The population is estimated to be a little under 200,000.
WHERE: Gagauzia has four enclaves within Moldova, three of which border Ukraine.
WHEN: In the final years of the Soviet Union, the Gagauz Movement began calling for autonomy for Gagauzia. Local authorities declared Gagauzia a Soviet Republic separate from Moldova in 1990. That didn't exactly stick. In 1994, after the fall of the Soviet Union, Moldova's government granted Gagauzia autonomous status.
WHAT: Like Transnistrians, the Gagauz are considered pro-Russian,, and the population is susceptible to Russian propaganda.
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