NEW YORK (Jun. 23)
Several Jews were reported among the casualties of this week’s violence in the former Soviet republic of Moldova, where fighting between ethnic Russians and Moldovans has killed at least 400 people.
Aron Shafirov, 43, was crushed by a tank in the city of Bendery, according to the National Conference on Soviet Jewry. Bendery, the center of this week’s fighting, is home to about 9,000 Jews. Overall, roughly 250,000 Jews live in Moldova, which is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States.
Neither Shafirov nor the other Jewish victims were said to have been singled out in the fighting in the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova. Ethnic Russians in Trans-Dniester have seceded from Moldova, which is ethnically Romanian and may rejoin that country.
For its part, Moldova is willing to grant political and linguistic autonomy to Trans-Dniester, but refuses to allow it to secede. Moldova has charged that Russian troops have aided the rebels and has threatened to call on Romania for military help against Russia.