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News 11 Jan 18

Russia To Open Polling Stations in Transnistria

Russia will open 24 polling stations for its citizens in Moldova’s breakaway region of Transnistria, where Vladimir Putin is expected to triumph in the Russian presidential elections.

Madalin Nescutu
Polling station for Russian presidential elections in Tiraspol. Photo: Flickr/Roni Weiss

Russia has decided to open 24 polling stations in Moldova's breakaway region of Transnistria for the Russian presidential elections on March 18 that President Vladimir Putin is sure to win.

Around half a million people live in Transnistria, divided almost equally between Moldovans, Ukrainians, and Russians. Many have Russian citizenship and passports and are entitled to vote in its elections.

"This event will largely determine the life of our state for the next six years," Elena Gorodetskaya, head of the Central Electoral Commission from Transnistria capital, Tiraspol, predicted.

According to news agency Novosti PMR from Tiraspol, two more polling stations will be opened compared to the number used in the Russian parliamentary elections in 2016.

The Russian embassy in Chisinau will supervise the voting process in Transnistria for the presidential elections.

Russia deploys peacekeepers in Transnistria and about 1,200 troops in the region, there mainly to protect what is deemed the biggest remaining Soviet weapons depot in Eastern Europe, in Cobasna, in northern Transnistria.

For years, Moldova has asked Moscow to withdraw its soldiers from Transnistria, but Russia argues that without an armed presence there, a new military conflict could arise.

The region broke away from Moldova in 1992 after the collapse of the Soviet Union and after a short war between the Moldovan army and Transnistrian separatists, helped by Russia.

Since then, the region has repeatedly sought to join Russia, holding a referendum on union with Russia in 2006, when 97 per cent of voters backed the idea.

However, neither Russia nor the international community recognised the referendum.

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