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Last Updated: Monday, 11 December 2006, 13:33 GMT
Trans-Dniester re-elects leader
Igor Smirnov
Igor Smirnov says he will not retire yet
The breakaway Trans-Dniester region of Moldova has re-elected Igor Smirnov as leader for another five years.

Mr Smirnov has held the job for the 16 years since Trans-Dniester declared independence from Moldova in 1990.

Election officials said he won 82.4% of the vote, beating the three other candidates in the first round. The vote is not recognised internationally.

In a September referendum, 97% voted to join the Russian Federation and 94% rejected reintegration with Moldova.

Mr Smirnov, 65, has said he will retire only when the region achieves full international recognition.

He said after voting on Sunday that the election confirmed "Trans-Dniester's path to independence and closer ties with Russia".

Turnout was just over 65% of the nearly 400,000 registered voters, officials said.

The other three candidates on the ballot were:

  • Petr Tomaily, a businessman and member of the regional parliament
  • Nadezhda Bondarenko, a journalist and head of the Trans-Dniester Communist Party
  • Andrey Safonov, an opposition journalist.

Smuggling claims

Russian troops are still present in Trans-Dniester after reportedly intervening on the side of secessionist forces when a brief civil war broke out in 1992.

They remain, in defiance of an agreement signed in 1999 at the summit of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which envisaged a complete military withdrawal within three years.

Map of Moldova, including Trans-Dniester

The region's population of about 555,000, is mostly Slavic - Russians 30%, Ukrainians 29% - compared with Moldovans 32%, according to the 2004 census. The majority have always favoured close ties with Moscow.

Moldova says Trans-Dniester's ballot is provocative and has called on foreign diplomats to condemn it.

The European Union sent no envoys to observe Sunday's vote, but Russian experts declared it free and fair.

Western countries are concern that Trans-Dniester has become a haven for smuggling and weapons trafficking, says our correspondent in the region, Helen Fawkes.

Moldova says Russian-born Mr Smirnov runs an authoritarian regime, but that does not seem to have dented his popularity, our correspondent says.


SEE ALSO
EU targets Moldova smugglers
07 Apr 06 |  Europe
Trans-Dniester's surreal life
02 Sep 05 |  Europe
Country profile: Moldova
13 Sep 06 |  Country profiles

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