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Last Updated: Sunday, 10 December 2006, 23:19 GMT
Trans-Dniester votes for leader
Elderly woman votes in Trans-Dniester election
The election has been called illegal by Moldova
Voting has ended in a presidential poll in Moldova's breakaway Trans-Dniester region, with incumbent Igor Smirnov tipped to win five more years in power.

Turnout was high and an exit poll gave Mr Smirnov more than 60%.

Mr Smirnov has said he will retire only when the region gets full international recognition. He has ruled since the break with Moldova in September 1990.

Trans-Dniester is a narrow strip of land with a population of about 500,000 on Ukraine's south-western border.

The other three candidates contesting the election are:

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

The region's population 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.

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

No country recognised the results, but Russia called the vote "free and fair".

Moldova has claimed Sunday's election is a farce and called on foreign diplomats to condemn it.

It accuses Mr Smirnov of running an authoritarian regime, but at home he is very popular, correspondents say.

Results are expected on Monday, with an absolute majority needed for a first round win.

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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