arrested on charges of taking bribe to provide false documents.
mayor has been charged with providing false documents for more than 30 Moldovans planning to travel to other European countries
to work illegally, the government said September 18. Victor Grosu, mayor of the village of Mereni near the capital, allegedly
received USD 5,000 and EUR 500 in exchange for writing letters declaring that 33 Moldovans were public employees wanting to
attend an international conference on agriculture. The letters were sent to the Belgian Embassy in Russia, Interior Ministry
said in a statement, and the visas were issued. The 33 planned to work illegally in Italy. The Moldovans were stopped while
traveling on a bus in Romania when a regional anti-trafficking police contingent discovered the bus's destination did not
match the one in their visas. The mayor was arrested and could face up to 25 years in jail for issuing false documents. Police
said he had handed in the money he received and pleaded guilty to the charges.
Rumsfeld Thanks Moldova For Support in Terror War (American Forces Press Service)
Russia to remove troops from Moldova (NEW YORK TIMES)
June 29, 2004
Thanks Moldova For Support in Terror War
By Donna Miles
Forces Press Service
Moldova, June 26, 2004 - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld today became the highest-level U.S. official to visit Moldova,
thanking members of this former Soviet state for their support for Operation Iraqi Freedom and encouraging continued participation
in the Partnership for Peace program.
a brief stop here today en route to the NATO Istanbul Summit to praise Moldova, the poorest nation in Europe, and to thank
President Vladimir Voronin and the Moldovan people for their role in maintaining stability in the region.
appreciation for Moldova's support for the war on terror. Moldova sent 45 troops to Iraq from September 2003 through March.
There, as members of the Polish-led Multinational Division, they applied de-mining and explosive ordnance skills honed in
Moldova, which was officially declared mine- free just two years ago.
to send a second contingent of about 12 de-miners to Iraq soon, although the specific timetable was not announced.
At the Moldovan
Army's 2nd Brigade headquarters here, Rumsfeld walked among the assembled troops, shaking hands and thanking the soldiers
for their service. After viewing static displays of trucks, armored vehicles and de-mining equipment, the secretary posed
for a photograph with the Moldovan troops, applauding the soldiers and flashing a "thumbs-up" sign.
soldiers Rumsfeld thanked was Maj. Alexander Thoric, a combat engineer who said he applied his de-mining experience to destroy
munitions and armaments in Iraq. Thoric said he was proud of his service in Iraq and will be happy to represent his country
again if called on to return. "I saved the lives of people, not only the U.S. military, but also the Iraqi people," he said.
"It felt really good to have the Iraqi people come up to us and thank us for what we did for them."
the Moldovan people, who gained their independence from the Soviet Union just over a decade ago, "understand the importance
of what's happening in places like Afghanistan and Iraq."
to be able to personally thank the people of Moldova for their support in the global war on terrorism, and particularly for
the role being played in the stabilization of Iraq," the secretary said during a joint news conference with Moldovan Defense
Minister Victor Gaiciuc.
Moldovan contingency served your country very well, both with respect to their impressive de-mining experience as well as
the humanitarian assistance operations," Rumsfeld told Gaiciuc. "And we are so pleased that the second group of Moldovans
is scheduled to leave for Iraq shortly."
Moldova for its role in the NATO Partnership for Peace Program, which it joined in 1994. Gaiciuc said the program enhances
the Moldovan military through exposure to myriad training opportunities and military sessions.
Rumsfeld fighting terrorism and other security threats around the world demands commitment by the full international community.
the most pressing threat facing Moldova: the presence of Russian troops, weapons and munitions in the eastern Transnistria
region. Russia pledged to pull out of the region by 2001 at the 1999 Istanbul Accord, but has not kept that promise.
States remains committed to a political settlement of the Transnistrian conflict and a reintegrated, sovereign Moldova," Rumsfeld
said. "It is certainly the belief of NATO and the countries of the (Organization for Security and Cooperation In Europe) that
commitments made in Istanbul some five years ago need to be fulfilled."
urges Russia to remove troops from Moldova
NEW YORK TIMES
CHISINAU, Moldova - Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld called on Russia
on Saturday to fulfill a 5-year-old pledge to withdraw 1,400 Russian troops and a huge stockpile of ammunition from a separatist
region of this former Soviet republic.
for a three-hour visit en route to the NATO summit meeting, which begins Sunday in Istanbul, Turkey, Rumsfeld thanked this
country's Communist government for dispatching small teams of land-mine demolition experts to Iraq, to help the American-led
soldiers are a tiny portion of the 25,000 allied forces now working alongside 138,000 U.S. troops in Iraq. About 40 Moldovan
military specialists returned home in March from a six-month tour in northern Iraq, and a second group of 12 mine-clearing
experts is to leave for Iraq soon for a similar deployment.
But the presence
of the Russian troops in Moldova, and Moscow's role in the lingering aftermath of a brief civil war here in the early 1990s,
has become a steady irritant in NATO-Russia relations, and was clearly on Rumsfeld's mind Saturday.
the United States and NATO stood by their insistence that Russia honor a pledge it made at regional talks in 1999 in Istanbul
to withdraw its remaining forces and arms from Moldova and other former Soviet republics.
the obligations that were undertaken at Istanbul some five years ago need to be fulfilled," Rumsfeld said at a news conference
with the Moldovan defense minister, Victor Gaiciuc.
discussions earlier here in the Moldovan capital with President Vladimir Voronin and other Moldovan officials.
At first glance,
Moldova would seem an unlikely candidate for attention from the Bush administration. It is the poorest country in Europe,
landlocked between Ukraine to the east and Romania to the west. As many as a quarter of the 4.3 million people officially
listed as living here actually work in Western Europe, including many young women working as prostitutes. Remittances sent
home from Moldovans abroad make up 82 percent of the country's national budget, an American Embassy spokeswoman said.
But the fact
that Moldova, which gained independence in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union, has no control over about 11 percent
of the country, the whole of which is the size of Maryland, disturbs Western officials who fear that that splinter, along
the Ukraine border called Transdnestr, has become a haven for arms trafficking, drug smuggling and other illegal activity.
"It's an unstable
situation that could rapidly deteriorate," said a U.S. defense official who accompanied Rumsfeld.
declared its independence from Moldova in 1991, when people who wanted to remain part of Russia fomented a brief civil war
to set up a self-declared republic backed by Russian soldiers. The issue is all the more important because there is a Soviet-era
ammunition stockpile that may contain as much as 40,000 tons of ammunition, Western officials say.
Over the years,
various diplomatic initiatives, have failed to reunite Moldova and get the Russian ammunition removed. Most of those initiatives
were headed mainly by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, a group of 55 countries including the United
States and Russia.
an agreement between Moscow and Voronin's government collapsed at the last minute, in part from pressure from American and
European officials who expressed fear that the deal would have given Russia undue influence over Moldovan affairs, left the
Russian troops in place and provided support for the separatists.Earlier this month, Voronin proposed that a five-party working group -- consisting of the United
States, Russia, Ukraine, the European Union and Romania -- try to negotiate a lasting settlement. Rumsfeld signaled tentative
support for the proposal on Saturday but said it remained under consideration by the Bush administration.