Moldovan government condemns elections in separatist Trans-Dniester as illegal

Moldova's government on Monday condemned local elections held a day earlier in the eastern province of Trans-Dniester, calling the ballot "illegal and anti-constitutional."

Separatist Trans-Dniester, a mostly Russian-speaking province occupying a sliver of land in eastern Moldova, held local elections Sunday.

An estimated 700,000 residents - 39 percent of the electorate - voted in the ballot, according to province's official Olvia news agency. No results were released Monday.

Trans-Dniester broke away from Moldova in 1992 after a short but bloody war that killed more than 1,500 people.

The region, which borders Ukraine, is not recognized internationally as a separate state. But it receives strong support from Russia, which considers it strategically located and has over 1,800 troops stationed in the area.

The Moldovan Foreign Ministry urged the international community to condemn the Trans-Dniester elections.

Trans-Dniester's foreign relations department, however, said it had the right to organize elections, and said the Moldovan government was seeking to discredit the region internationally.

"The position taken by the Moldovan administration shows clearly the lack of will to advance in peacefully and rapidly resolving (the problems in) the Moldovan-Trans-Dniester relations," Vitali Ignatiev, a spokesman for the department, was quoted by Olvia as saying.

Moldova held its elections March 6.

Associated Press

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