The Gagauz people of southern Moldova have long been viewed as natural allies of the communists and as agents for Russia's interests in the republic. There is a significant degree of distrust between them and the ethnic Moldovan majority.
In the mid-90s, Russia almost succeeded in establishing a separatist enclave in the region as it had done earlier in Transnistria. Until relatively recently the Gagauz would vote communist en masse.
Things started to change with the election of the non-communist Mihail Formuzal as Gagauzia's Bashkan (President). Formuzal understands that it was the ethnic policies of the Russian Empire and Soviet Union that lead to the russification of the Gagauz people and the near loss of their langauge and culture. Moreover, he understands that the region's economic future lies in investment from and exports to Europe (and Romania in particular).
And so, he is charting a new course, as evidenced by two actions taken earlier today. The first was the holding of today's meeting of the Gagauz assembly in the Gagauz language, for the first time in eleven years,of autonomy. The second was to plead with Gagauz officials to keep out of the power struggle in Chisinau and not allow themselves to become cannon fodder in the PCRM's desparate struggle to hang on to power.
Formuzal is showing the hallmarks of a true leader, promoting, at considerable personal cost, a course of action which, while not popular, is the 'right thing to do'. I wish him all the best and pray that his approach to government is contagious!