Pervy Pridnestrovsky TV Channel: Returning to the subject of relations with neighbours, on December 2 Moldova actually abducted our customs officer Alexander Subbotin. The MFA of the PMR then made a quite strong statement, spoke of possible responses. But nothing was lately heard about his fate. What is being done to release him and what is the situation?

Yevgeny Shevchuk: The fact that customs officer had been abducted in the Security Zone, is in a contrary to the existing agreements between Pridnerstrovie and Moldova. The fact that criminal cases became avalanche-like in 2014 says that they in Moldova work consistently on a number of areas. One of them, according to our estimates, is the stirring up tension because the initiation of about 70 criminal cases in 2014 without explanation, discussion of the reasons for such mass actions is a serious provocative factor. Why is it done? I think that some political forces, special services of the Republic of Moldova, which are not under the control of Moldova itself, have any other plans, even, perhaps, than the plans of the political leadership of the Republic of Moldova. It is well understood that the continuation of this policy may lead to an armed clash in the Security Zone. Pridnestrovie has enough power and resources to respond symmetrically. But at the same time, we believe that at the moment it is necessary to use diplomatic tools, to turn both to Moldova itself and to the countries participating in the negotiating format in order to clarify and make clear who is responsible for exacerbating the situation in the Security Zone. After our customs officer had been abducted, police officers in Dubossary district who live in our territory, “accidentally disappeared" from Dubossary. Some of them have returned though. This shows that instability and uncertainty have been bred, including among police officers in the Security Zone. What is it done for and why? Everyone can formulate an answer for themselves.

As for the Pridnestrovian side, we will continue our efforts to rescue our customs officer. We believe that a number of charges which are brought against customs officers are not based on the criminal law. It's more a political action, to which they are trying to find a justification, I mean spying for Russia and so on. We will see how the judicial legal system of the Republic of Moldova will react to the providing appropriate materials into courts.

And in conclusion I would like to say that we will take the full range of measures to ensure our employee to be free. We do not want the implementation of the plan when we will change the Pridnestrovian customs officer for the Moldovan policemen or anyone else. This is not what is needed for the formation of a negotiating platform and stability in the region. We hope that our partners both in the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the European Union, our observers from the United States of America understand the consequences of these actions. Unfortunately, those actions were carried out in 2014: it is a provocation against the employees of our Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the officials who use Kishinev airport infrastructure to move to other countries. This confirms the existence of some system plan to destabilize the situation, at least in the Security Zone in Pridnestrovie. Our concern is given to the participants of the “5 + 2”. We will be watching this situation and take appropriate decisions.

Novoye Vremya Newspaper: Ukrainian energy problems are well known. Recently, Ukraine makes treaties with Russia on energy supplies. The Moldavskaya GRES is not working at full capacity. Does the Pridnestrpovian side give consideration to the issue on the work of the station at more fully capacity and thereby increasing budget revenue?

Yevgeny Shevchuk: We are interested in the fact that all our industrial enterprises work at more fully capacity. What a strange story. Turning to the previous question, Moldova officially asked Pridnestrovie to increase the supply of energy due to the problems that you mentioned. The Ukrainian energy market has problems with energy shortages. Under these conditions, it was possible to behave in a different way, for example, we may not supply additional electricity to Moldova. Then Moldova would in the same situation, which Ukraine is in now, and maybe even worse. However, we believe that despite the different political views, we must first think about the benefits of our economic agents, about the fact that a great number of citizens live in Moldova, who are in need of electricity and heat during the winter. In this regard, the Pridnestrovian side has decided to increase the volume of electricity supplies to the Republic of Moldova, despite the fact that Moldovan authorities actually allowed a number of incidents to happen involving Pridnestrovians. In fact: they slapped on one cheek, and we turned the other. Something not well understood is happening in Ukraine too. We know about the serious needs in the Odessa Oblast. There is a technical possibility to provide as a minimum the Odessa Oblast with the missing electrical energy. Problems in Odessa give us also cause for concern, because we believe that the more our partners and neighbours, their economy, living conditions are stable, the more potential we, Pridnestrovians, have in order to trade, to visit each other, to buy goods. Therefore, we are interested in the early stabilization of the situation in Ukraine, and Moldova.

I wonder why the Odessa Oblast makes public statements that they have already agreed even on the price with the Moldovan GRES, but they avoid the word “Pridnestrovie”. They write that they will buy in Moldova, near Odessa, near the Moldovan GRES.

You see how the situation is developing. On the one hand, we are dragged through the mud. It must be admitted openly. Now we threaten, then we are pro-Russian oriented. On the other hand, the situation turned around, and people are starting to think that you need to buy a certain product, but in order to buy you just need to have a human relations,  some interaction. Despite what happened, we are ready to supply electricity to our neighbours at the prices which are favourable for Pridnestrovie. Volumes of supplies need to be agreed. I have the impression that it is not clear what is going on there in terms of consistency in decision-making.

As far as I know, the governor of the Odessa Oblast supports that the supply of electricity will be promptly organized. But for unknown reasons, some decisions in Kiev do not allow to implement it. If the Ukrainian side shows a distinct interest, the Pridnestrovian economic agents will conduct the relevant negotiations on possible future supply of electricity. If this product is not needed, then, of course, no one is going to supply it.

Profsouznye Vesti Newspaper: Today it is not only the Constitution Day, but also the Day of Possible adoption of the Budget. This issue is discussed in the Supreme Council. As you know, next year's budget was drawn up “just-in-time”. Amendments were made which significantly increased the budget deficit, and they were based on the fact that for the first time the tariff difference for energy was included in the budget, including gas. What caused this? And does this mean that we are very gently moved up to the idea that it is necessary to pay for that gas? And two more questions from our readers. The residents of Slobodzea district wonder whether the project on the expansion of the boundaries of Tiraspol and including villages Sukleya and Blizhny Khutor in its border will be implemented. Residents of Bendery wonder whether the project on the movement of the Supreme Council to Bendery will be completed.

Yevgeny Shevchuk: As for the budget, I would not say that decision was “just-in-time”. It is the immediate response of the Government to developing situation related to the revenue generation in the III-IV quarters of 2014 when we see that part of the revenues is already falling outside. Excises, duties are the first wave of shock. The second wave will occur when the companies reduce the volume of production. We already see the consequences of this abnormal situation. Therefore it is clear that if production volumes decrease we will get less tax. We now get less excise taxes and duties. And appropriate calculations can be carried out. The Government has conducted the appropriate calculations and has agreed to a reduction - nearly 500 million of total revenues. What sum will be approved there, time will tell. No matter what anyone claims or votes by show of hands, money will not increase due to it. This is simply a reflection of the developing economic situation around Pridnestrovie. And in this regard it should be noted that this situation radically changes our plans and programme of the Government, the essence of which was the fact that Pridnestrovie would have to double its revenues in all budgets during five years. We almost got it at the end of 2012-2013. Total revenues for all budgets increased by almost 50 per cent. This rate was not in Moldova, Ukraine or Russia, nor in the European Union. Firstly, Pridnestrovie has demonstrated adequate potential, which is insignificant, but it has it. Secondly, releasing some of the structural elements of foreign economic activity clearly contributes to the growth of economic activity in Pridnestrovie. I remind that in 2012 we partially released the railway and we observe how some production has intensified. 

However, new situation, new restrictions, new approaches defeat our plans. And the 2015th, I would say, will be tenser than the 2014th. What are the next steps of our partners, we can also predict and assume. But we need to understand that these are objectively emerging external circumstances due to various political decisions that directly affect the economy of the Pridnestrovian Moldavian Republic. Forces, resources, tools, resources within the state are clearly not enough in proportionally equal amount to overcome these external constraints. In this regard, a corresponding reduction in revenues to the consolidated budget has been done and is being done.

And as for the tariff difference, it existed and still exists. Over the past two years, the growth rate of this tariff difference has seriously reduced. In 2014 we consumed, in my opinion, by 500 million cubic meters less than in 2013. We pursue a policy that should demonstrate transparency in real spending. When we talk about the tariff difference, these are obligations of the state which must be carried out sooner or later. In this regard, the Government has demonstrated the total spending volume for the maintenance of the republic so that we all think about the accumulation of additional revenues.

Unfortunately, sometimes state decisions are made in the form of adoption of additional benefits by the laws without taking the objective situation into account. In other words, the attempts to expand the benefits, providing state support, and so on are continuing. Sources of state support have been exhausted. In the same period, more and more companies turning to the Government for help in providing tax benefits and energy at cheaper prices. We cannot subsidize the entire industrial sector. The level of the state support which today is available both to individuals and legal entities is the highest in the CIS. Therefore, the tariff difference is shown in the budget. I remind that only benefits for utilities for individuals in the territory of Pridnestrovie, i.e. in fact subsidies providing by the state for municipal enterprises, municipal budgets, amount to slightly more than 500 mln rubles. This is about 50 mln dollars. Only individuals receive certain economic benefits in this part.

We will continue the policy of supporting businesses and, of course, the citizens of the PMR. But these resources are not inexhaustible. And I think it is right and expedient that there will be figures of real costs on maintenance of the entire republic in state budgets, republican budget, republican and local structures. It is obvious. People need to provide accurate and intelligible information. Then it will be clear from what the Government of the PMR proceeds in making decisions.

With regard to changes in the administrative-territorial structure, if there is such activity of citizens in connection with these wishes, you need to push local governments to deal with procedural matters in a very short time. They can initiate a local referendum on unification with Tiraspol. If this initiative will be actualized, if any relevant civil society organizations or citizens themselves take the initiative, I believe that it is appropriate. And they will be supported by the president.

As for the movement of the Supreme Council in Bendery, I still believe that it should be done. We have suspended the work, not because someone wants or does not want, but because this procedure requires additional costs. It is necessary to carry out repair work, to provide the appropriate conditions. This is the highest representative body of power, and conditions must be proportional or adequate to the tasks faced by this authority. And given the fact that in 2013-2014 we focused on other priorities, we assumed that that decision would be implemented later. However, the situation is exacerbated in terms of problems with the imbalance of revenues and expenditures. Therefore, this decision is delayed for a longer period when it can be implemented and there will be the appropriate resources for it.

News Agency “Novosti Pridnestroviya”: Recently, representatives of Moldova intensified the work aimed at discrediting the peacekeeping operation. There are statements about the need to replace the current format to other missions. What do you think of these statements?

Yevgeny Shevchuk: The official position of Pridnestrovie was repeatedly voiced. We believe that the provocations in the Security Zone, in particular related to our customs officers, blocking border crossings, when the police deliberately blocks border crossings, are aimed at discrediting the peacekeeping operation in order to generate an additional conflict in the Security Zone and make a statement about its ineffectiveness. These are deliberate actions of one of the parties to escalate the situation in the Security Zone. The wish of some political representatives of Moldova to withdraw Russian troops from here and transform the format as a peace-guaranteeing operation, I find it very dangerous. First of all, it is very dangerous for peace in the Security Zone, and not only in the Security Zone, and in this region of Europe as a whole. Therefore, if the priority is peace and life of citizens, it is necessary that some comrades tempered and think about the most important element. Of course, it is maybe well to speak in Kishinev: we need a peacekeeping operation or not, thinking that they stabilize the situation in the Security Zone, that they will be calm in Kishinev. I think that this is a serious misconception about it, they will not be calm anywhere. Therefore I urge to come to their senses and to support the peacekeeping operation in order to ensure stability primarily in terms of security for the citizens of Pridnestrovie and Moldova. This is a major priority. In the second phase the negotiations will continue. We will find out the essence of differences in all aspects. We will solve these problems at the negotiating table. I think that touching on the basic foundation directly - the peace - is a very risky proposition, initiative. And in my opinion, it is just reckless.

The weekly “Dobroye zdorovye”: In the past two years, there are significant changes in health care, medical facilities are equipped and modernized. At the same time, the possibility of significant increase in the volume of paid medical services and reduction of free medical services cause concern of Pridnestrovians. How justified are these concerns? Thank you!

Yevgeny Shevchuk: Over the past few years the amount of investments in the infrastructure of the health system is considerable. It exceeds the investments that have been made for all years of the PMR. It is obvious for many people. And the statistics bear this out. As of 2014 investments amount to approximately 500 million rubles, maybe a little more. This money has been allocated not only through the NGO “Eurasian Integration”, but also local and foreign funds. Each fund has invested its resources in some sector of health care. Everyone understands that new and modern technological equipment should be maintained. In addition, the equipment should be operated only by highly qualified specialists, who should be paid with the corresponding wages. There is need to purchase the appropriate supplies to ensure the functioning of the equipment. It cannot and will not function in the air. And given the situation happening with the budget (some figures have been mentioned above), it is clear that the possibilities of the state budget to fund the health care system on the basis of free services are reduced. We cannot promptly and fully buy medicines for the health care system now, the health care system has loan payables. This suggests that if the approaches are not changed, then we will return to the situation with new equipment and new medical facilities which existed previously. We must not let this happen. Therefore, I will say something unpopular, but as it is. The government will have to revise the list of free medical services, not everywhere, but in a number of medical institutions in order to save resources for the maintenance of these medical institutions. In particular, this relates to high-tech medical services, where there is expensive equipment. We will implement it. We need to clearly understand that the health sector cannot exist without resources. On the one hand, the Constitution has provisions that define providing citizens with free medical care, and on the other hand, any norm of law must be provided with resources. To date, there are no such resources. Therefore, the strategy is to satisfy the health care sector with relevant institutions, where there will be high-tech equipment to ensure the wider range of services than two years ago, that the bulk of operations, diagnostics will be carried out on-site. The concept is that this diagnostics should be cheaper than in Odessa and Kishinev. The level of payments for services in the health system should be reviewed in order to achieve this objective.