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Moldovan separatist region elects new president

AP News
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Posted: Dec 26, 2011 11:23 AM
Moldovan separatist region elects new president

Yevgheny Shevchuk, a 43-year-old businessman and politician, has been elected the new president of the breakaway Moldovan region of Trans-Dniester, the separatists' official news agency reported Monday.

Olvia-Pres quotes election officials Monday as announcing that Shevchuk won 73.9 percent of votes to defeat Anatoly Kaminski, the candidate preferred by Russia, in Sunday's runoff.

Trans-Dniester broke away from Moldova in 1990 and fought a war with Moldovan forces in 1992 that left 1,500 people dead. The region, which is populated mainly by Ukrainians and Russians, is not recognized internationally, but has its own legal and administrative system.

Moscow has traditionally wielded significant influence there, and Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sent Kaminski a letter of support prior to the runoff. Analysts have said it is too early to predict whether Russia would lose influence in the region.

However, Shevchuk is thought to have a more conciliatory stance toward Moldova and the government in Chisinau than his predecessor Igor Smirnov, who led Trans-Dniester for 20 years. Smirnov came in third in the first round vote Dec. 11.

Shevchuk has shares in Sheriff, a company which has interests in the food, medicine, construction and petrol sectors.

(This version CORRECTS Corrects spelling of leader's name, adds background, byline.)