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

 

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

 

Trans-Dniester broke away from Moldova in 1992 after a short but bloody war that killed more than 1500 people.

 

The region, which borders Ukraine, is not recognised internationally as a separate state.

 

Strong support

 

"The position taken by the Moldovan administration shows clearly the lack of will to advance in peacefully and rapidly resolving the Moldovan-Trans-Dniester relations"

Vitali Ignatiev,
Trans-Dniester spokesman

But it receives strong support from Russia, which considers it strategically located and has over 1800 troops stationed in the area.

 

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

 

Trans-Dniester's foreign relations department, however, said it had the right to organise 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 on 6 March.