Former parliament speaker Yevgeny Shevchuk has won a presidential runoff in Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region by a landslide, RFE/RL's Moldovan Service reports, citing local and international agency reports.
Central Election Commission Chairman Pyotr Denisenko said that Shevchuk "received 73.88 percent of votes, while his opponent Anatoly Kaminsky received 19.67 percent."
Many observers had regarded Shevchuk's first-round victory as a surprise. Second-place finisher and current parliament speaker Kaminsky was backed by Russia.
A key figure in the decades-old campaign by some for independence for Transdniester, outgoing leader Igor Smirnov, placed third
in the first round of voting on December 11.
Shevchuk said on December 26 that "such figures tell us that the people are tired of their low standard of living, of the difficulties they face, and they expect real decisions and actions which will impact on our economy, our social and political situation."
He said that "people want real, positive changes and the level of trust [placed in me] shows this has to happen as soon as possible."
Not recognized internationally, Transdniester relies on Russian financial and political support for its half a million people.
Moscow still has about 1,500 troops in a strip of land along Moldova's eastern border with Ukraine.
The Russian-backed region asserted independence from Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1990 and the two sides fought a brief civil war in 1992.
based on RFE/RL and agency reports