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Rebel Region Improves Economic Ties With Moldova

Transdniester's new leader Yevgeny Shevchuk
The new leader of Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region says he has canceled a 100 percent customs duty on goods imported from Moldova.

Yevgeny Shevchuk's announcement on January 17 comes after he won an election last month on a platform of normalizing relations with Moldova.

Shevchuk's office said the duties, introduced in 2006, would be scrapped immediately.

Shevchuk, who defeated longtime authoritarian Igor Smirnov, had promised to make it easier for his territory's 500,000 residents to do business, while also defending its independence and seeking its recognition abroad.

Transdniester, a narrow strip of land along Moldova's border with Ukraine that is mainly populated by Russian speakers, declared independence in 1990 and fought a brief war with Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1992.

Its independence has not been recognized internationally.