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Could Moldova be next?

Local Moldovans weigh in on Ukraine crisis

GREENFIELD — As Russian forces occupy Crimea and concerns increase over whether Russia will attempt to take over other parts of Ukraine and its neighbors, local Moldovans living in Franklin County are confident in their home country’s independence.

“It’s never going to happen in Moldova. We’re not worried,” said Ely Placinte, 31, speaking of his native country, a former Soviet country between Romania to the west and Ukraine to the east.

Placinte, a member of the Providence Moldovian Baptist Church on Federal Street, has been in the United States for 14 years.

Like many native Moldovans in Greenfield, Placinte insisted he wasn’t worried about any threat Russia posed to Moldova.

“I don’t think it will happen,” he said. “Everything is peaceful in Moldova right now. No one wants to go to Russia. Everyone wants to go with Europe.”

Bordering southern Ukraine, Moldova is one of the poorest countries in Europe and relies heavily on Russia for energy supplies.

American, European and NATO leaders are becoming increasingly concerned about the threat Russia may pose to Moldova after it invaded and annexed Crimea in Ukraine. Western officials fear that Russia won’t stop at Crimea and could annex Moldova’s separatist Transdniestria region.

In 1990, Transdniestria declared independence from Moldova but has not been recognized by any United Nations member state. In 2006, the region voted in a referendum to join Russia.

With Russian peacekeepers, old Soviet arms stocks and artillery stationed in the region, Russia would already be in a position to take over and annex the small nation, which is mainly a strip of land between the River Dniester and the eastern Moldovan border with Ukraine.

After a Sunday service at the Providence Moldovian Baptist Church, Victor Komerzan, 21, said he wasn’t too worried about the prospect of a Russian invasion in Moldova.

“I think those times may be over, but then again who knows,” said Komerzan, who has been in Greenfield for 15 years.

Russia always uses its military whenever it sees conflict in one of its former Soviet bloc countries, said Igor Onofrei, 29, who works at Terrazza Ristorante at the Country Club of Greenfield.

Many of the employees at the Italian restaurant are natives of eastern European countries, including Ukraine and Moldova.

“I support people deciding for themselves, but then the Russian army comes in,” Onofrei said. “I think people support freedom.”

Onofrei, who has lived in Greenfield for six years, said he wouldn’t be surprised if Russia annexed Transdniestria, which he said is pro-Russian like Crimea. The separatist region is 50 miles from his family’s home, where he can still see the old Soviet Union weapons and equipment left behind. A Russian military presence is prevalent in the region.

“I expected to see this (in Ukraine). I just didn’t think it would happen so fast,” Onofrei said. “For Moldova, we want good relations with both the East and the West.”

Cristina Plugaru, 29, moved from Moldova to Greenfield last May.

“I hate the methods of Putin. He thinks too much of himself and doesn’t respect people,” she said.

The Terrazza employee said she wouldn’t be surprised if Russia turns its sights to Moldova.

“Moldova is a very small country and can be very easily manipulated,” Plugaru said.

Ira Lyvytska, 19, was planning to visit her native country, Ukraine, this summer, but now her parents won’t allow her.

“(My relatives) don’t know what country they’ll wake up in,” Lyvytska, who also works at Terrazza, said.

She and her parents have lived in Greenfield for seven years, but the rest of her family still lives in Ukraine.

Conditions have worsened since Russian took over a part of Ukraine.

“They say there are no money or jobs in Ukraine. People are stealing and doing everything to survive,” she said. “My father says that how Russia took Crimea was wrong. The only reason it happened was because Ukraine is such a mess.”

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at: or 413-772-0261 ext. 268.

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