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Moldova’s first president Mircea Snegur dies at 83

MIRCEA Snegur, who led Moldova to independence and served as its first president, has died at the age of 83, the country’s current incumbent said today.

A former communist turned pro-western liberal, Snegur declared independence from Moscow on August 27, 1991, during the breakup of the then Soviet Union.

“I learned with deep sadness that Mircea Snegur, the first President of the Republic of Moldova, died this night,” President Maia Sandu wrote on Facebook.

“Mr. Snegur lived in historic times and played an essential role in promoting the independence, freedom and sovereignty of the Republic of Moldova,” she added.

Sandu said the day of the funeral of Snegur, who was president from 1990 to 1996, would be declared a day of national mourning.

His words on August 27, 1991 — “Long live independent Moldova!” — would continue to guide the country, she added.

Born on 17 January 1940, in the village of Trifanesti in northern Moldova, Snegur worked as an agronomist before joining the Communist Party of Moldavia.

As president, he led Moldova to independence, but its Russian-speaking region of Transnistria refused to follow and declared itself independent.

Following a brief civil war, Russia has stationed some troops there. Its independence is not internationally recognised.

Snegur was replaced as president, who holds executive power, after pro-Russian Petru Lusinschi was elected in December 1996.

Snegur has two children. His daughter, Natalia Gherman, served as deputy prime minister and foreign minister in the past.

Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, the country of 2.6 million people applied to join the European Union.

In June 2022, it became a candidate country, alongside Ukraine.

Wedged between Ukraine and EU member Romania, Moldova is one of Europe’s poorest countries.

It was part of the Ottoman Empire for centuries, followed by Russian rule and then was part of Romania before becoming the Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1940.

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