Moldova's breakaway Transdniester region has announced it will hold a presidential runoff on December 25.
The election commission said Yevgeny Shevchuk, a popular local lawyer, and Moscow-backed parliament speaker Anatoly Kaminsky would face each other after taking first and second place in the poll.
Shevchuk and Kaminsky came ahead of longtime Transdniester strongman Igor Smirnov in the first round of the election on December 11.
Smirnov, who was seeking a sixth term, had refused to recognize the results, claiming election irregularities. But the commission threw out his complaint.
Smirnov's position was decisively weakened after Moscow made it clear that he no longer enjoyed its crucial support.
However, opposition candidate Shevchuk's placing first was a surprise, given that it was Kaminsky who had enjoyed Russian backing in the election.
The Russian-backed region with a population of some 550,000 declared independence from Romanian-speaking Moldova in 1990, and the two sides fought a brief civil war in 1992. Nobody has recognized its independence internationally.
with agency reports