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Moldovan Autonomous Region Elects Pro-Russian Governor in a Landslide

Irina Vlah will be the new governor of Moldova's autonomous Gagauzia region having won 51% of the votes - the runner-up managed just 19%

This article originally appeared at Radio Free Europe

Voters in Moldova's autonomous territory of Gagauzia have voted in a new governor in a region where support for closer ties to Russia is strong.

Gagauzia's Central Election Commission (CEC) declared Moldovan parliamentarian Irina Vlach the winner, with 51 percent of the vote. 

Nikolai Dudoglo, the former mayor of the Gagauz capital, Comrat, received 19 percent of the vote. 

The CEC said more than 63,000 out of Gagauzia's 105,000 registered voters took part in the election. 

Vlach has called for closer ties to Russia.

Gagauzia -- which is populated mainly by ethnic Turk Christians -- enjoys economic autonomy but has Moldovan police, schools, and courts.

Last year, Gagauzia held a referendum in which voters overwhelmingly chose closer ties with Russia and opposition to EU integration.

Moldovan officials banned a Russian television crew sent to cover Gagauzia's election last week.

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