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Russian Deputy Praises Gagauzia's Referendum

Gagauzia voted for integration with a Russia-led customs union in an unofficial referendum last month. (file photo)
Russian lawmaker Leonid Slutsky has praised last month's referendum in Moldova's autonomous Gagauzia region, calling it a "timely" event.

Meeting with a Gagauzia delegation in Moscow on March 26, Slutsky -- who is on a U.S. sanctions list over Russia's annexation of Crimea -- said, "we fully approve of the poll."

Gagauzia has a population of about 155,000, mostly ethnically Gagauz, Turkic-speaking Orthodox Christians.

Its residents voted in an unauthorized referendum for integration with a Moscow-led Customs Union of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Russia in February.

Chisinau, which initialed an EU Association Agreement in November, called the referendum illegal, saying it challenges Moldova's territorial integrity.

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the Delegation to the EU-Moldova Parliamentary Cooperation Committee, Romania's Monica Macovei, told RFE/RL that Moldova may first sign political chapters of an Association Agreement with the EU, as Ukraine did on March 21.
With reporting by Interfax