CHISINAU, Moldova (AP) — Russia's deputy prime minister urged people to fight fascism and offered support to separatists during a visit Friday to Trans-Dniester, a pro-Russian separatist region of Moldova, to celebrate Victory Day.
Dmitry Rogozin said "the plague of fascism is thriving," at a flower-laying ceremony held at a monument to Soviet soldiers who died during World War II. He referred specifically to the deaths of mainly pro-Russians in Odessa, Ukraine, last week.
"Russia will do everything possible for Trans-Dniester not to be isolated," he said later. The region is not internationally recognized but is supported by Russia, which residents voted to join in a 2006 referendum.
His private visit to Trans-Dniester, which borders Ukraine, comes as the West and Russia are battling for influence in Eastern Europe. Moldova's pro-European government had asked him to not to make the visit.
"Russia has taken on the role of a guarantor of security, and depending on developments we will take concrete steps in this way," the Novosti PMR news agency quoted Rogozin as saying. He did not clarify what he meant, but Russia opposes plans by Moldova's government to sign an accession agreement with the European Union later this year.
Russia has 1,500 troops in Trans-Dniester, deployed after the region broke away from Moldova in 1990.