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Strong Turnout Reported In Breakaway Transdniester Election

  • RFE/RL's Moldovan Service

Yevgeny Shevchuk, the leader of Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region

Yevgeny Shevchuk, the leader of Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region

Election officials reported a strong turnout in Transdniester as voters chose a new leader for the self-governed but unrecognized Moldovan territory.

Polls have shown incumbent leader Yevgeny Shevchuk to be one of the leading candidates along with Vadim Krasnoselsky, who resigned as head of the region's self-styled Supreme Council to run for the post.

Moldova has declared the election illegal in the region that has had wide autonomy since breaking away in the early 1990s.

READ MORE: An Unpredictable Election Unfolds In Moldova’s Breakaway Transdniester

The election commission reported nearly 60 percent of eligible voters turning out. The Novosti Pridnestrovya news agency said preliminary results wouldn't be released until December 12.

The number of eligible voters wasn't immediately clear, but the territory's population is estimated at 500,000 people, according to Moldovan government figures.

If no candidate receives at least 50 percent of the vote, then a runoff will be held between the top two vote-getters on December 25.

A predominantly Russian-speaking region, Transdniester declared its independence from Moldova in 1990.

A brief war was fought between Moldovan forces and Transdniester separatists in 1992-93 that resulted in several hundred people killed on both sides.

Around 2,000 Russian troops are stationed in Transdniester despite the Moldovan government repeatedly asking them to leave.

Diplomatic attempts led by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe since the end of the war to find a settlement to the conflict have been unsuccessful.

As Moldova's government has sought closer ties with the European Union in recent years, Moscow has made veiled threats to recognize Transdniester as independent.

The dispute has hobbled Moldovan's economy, making the country one of Europe's poorest.

With reporting by TASS
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