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Last Updated: Sunday, 17 September 2006, 18:00 GMT 19:00 UK
Trans-Dniester holds referendum
By Helen Fawkes
BBC News, Tiraspol

Map of Moldova, including Trans-Dniester
The breakaway eastern European region of Trans-Dniester has been holding a referendum on independence from the former Soviet Republic of Moldova.

Trans-Dniester declared itself to be independent in 1990 from the Soviet republic of Moldova, although it has never been recognised internationally.

Some European nations believe the area poses a risk to regional security and Moldova calls it a haven for criminals.

But Trans-Dniester insists it should have the right to self-determination.

Voters were asked whether this separatist state of about 500,000 people should continue working towards independence, whether to eventually join Russia, or be reunited with Moldova.

The self-proclaimed republic is a mainly Russian-speaking area that fought a bloody civil war with Moldova in the early 1990s.

So it is expected there will be an overwhelming "yes" to independence and Russia.

But the result will not be recognised internationally.

Analysts say the referendum went ahead because of growing economic pressure from Moldova and neighbouring Ukraine as part of an EU project to improve regional security

The referendum will make clear the strong sentiment felt by Trans-Dniester towards Moscow.

It could also set a precedent for other pro-Russian separatist states in the former Soviet Union.


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