The election commission in Tiraspol announced that according to preliminary results of the December 10 “presidential elections”, the pro-Moscow incumbent, Igor Smirnov won a fourth five-year mandate. Transdniestrians had to choose among four candidates: incumbent Igor Smirnov, a businessman, a local Communist Party leader, and a newspaper editor whose candidacy had initially been rejected by election officials in late November.
No Western observers monitored the ballot, only Russian legislators and representatives of several other separatist regions - including Nagorno-Karabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia - were said to have come to Transdniester for the vote.
According to a referendum organized by the separatists in September, that was dismissed as illegal by the European Union and the United States, 97 percent of voters backed independence for the region, with the ultimate goal of union with Russia. The Russian Duma subsequently approved a statement backing the independence vote and urging the international community to recognize its results.