Bessarabia is a historical region, a former puffer zone of the Russian, Austrian and Ottoman empires. It’s boundaries lay mainly in today’s Moldavia (including Transnistria) and to a smaller part in the south of Ukraine (see Wikipedia). There are attempts to revitalize Bessarabia, rather for political reasons than out of nostalgia.
On 6 April, the ‘People’s Council of Bessarabia’ met in Odessa in order to relaunch this political entity. At a first glance it seems not only for cultural and economical purposes, but to create a political framework in order to coordinate pro-Russian interests, maybe in order to support secession of Odessa. (ZN)
Nicolai Holmov delivers a sound interpretation of this perspective:
As the historical concept of “Novorussiya” failed miserably to take hold in Odessa when The Kremlin forcibly intervened in Ukraine a year ago – it appears another historical dead horse called Bessarabia is about to be resurrected and publicly flogged in the hope it moves in the very westernmost regions of Ukraine (and within Moldova too). Attempting to destabilise two nations for the price of one historical resurrection in such hard economic times, for The Kremlin, currently makes good fiscal sense. (odessatalk)
Furthermore, the website (see also webcache) of the initiative was launched the day before, registered in Moscow. The site indicates impressive numbers of 15’477 Facebook likes and 6’633 followers on Twitter after one day – without having any social media accounts or back links (wet dream of every social media manager). The email is not working either. It seems that communication is not appreciated.
Although the founding conference did take place physically, the question remains what it is all about. In general, the Bessarabia project resembles the revisionist attempts in the east, as seen before, but it looks rather sloppy – at least as a political framework for secession. If this is due to low priority or due to lack of time is pure speculation of course. Also if it is a creation of a physical event for reproduction in Russian-friendly media or pure distraction. At least Ukrainian intelligence (SBU) takes it serious and arrested 8 activists for distributing flyers on 2 April.
Next to the “Bessarabia” project, there is the “Porto Franco” initiative, trying to establish in Odessa (see here or here). The comparable taste of both projects suggests that they come out of the same kitchen.