Transnistrian independence referendum, 2006

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A double referendum was held in Transnistria on 17 September 2006. Voters were asked whether they approved of the possibility of renouncing independence and integration with Moldova,[1] or alternatively independence and a possible future integration into the Russian Federation.[2]

Background[edit]

Pro-Moldovan organisations announced before the referendum that they would not recognise its results. Ballots for the referendum were reprinted 3 times, as the chairman of electoral commission, Piotr Denisenko, announced a shrinkage of electorate of 7% compared with previous year.[3]

Results[edit]

Renouncing independence and potential future integration into Moldova[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 10,308 3.39
Against 294,253 96.61
Invalid/blank votes 5,608
Total 310,169 100
Registered voters/turnout 394,861 78.55
Source: Direct Democracy

Independence and potential future integration into Russia[edit]

Choice Votes %
For 301,332 98.07
Against 5,905 1.93
Invalid/blank votes 2,932
Total 310,169 100
Registered voters/turnout 394,861 78.55
Source: Direct Democracy

Of the total of 394,861 registered voters, the voter turnout was 78.6%,[4] substantially more than the 50%+1 required by law to validate the referendum.[5] On the day of the referendum, no exit polling was allowed within 25 meters of polling stations, to prevent disruption of voting.[6]

Reactions[edit]

Poster announcing 17 September Referendum in Transnistria

International organisations, such as the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development,[7] European Union,[8] GUAM, and some other countries (Bulgaria, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia, Iceland, Norway) did not recognise the referendum.[9][10]

According to Russian News Agency RIA Novosti, more than 130 international observers monitored the referendum and reported that "they did not register any procedural violations during the secret balloting,"[11] and the representative of the Congress of Russian Communities from Moldova declared that the referendum was held according to international standards.[12] However, no internationally recognised monitoring organisations had observers present.

Viktor Alksnis, a deputy from the Russian party "Rodina" stated that referendum in Transnistria was held without any violations of legislation and democratic standards.[13] Viktor Alksnis is known to have previously described the Transnistrian Republic as the base from which the Soviet Union's restoration would begin.[14]

In the opinion of the Ukrainian foreign ministry, the situation in Transnistria fails to meet the conditions of a free will expression by citizens.[15]

According to the OSCE, the media climate in the Transdniestrian region is restrictive, as authorities there continue a long-standing campaign to silence independent opposition voices and movements.[16] Although the OSCE decided not to send any observers to monitor the referendum,[17] 130 observers from CIS and Europe and from eleven election monitoring organizations who did attend the referendum had different reactions.[18]

In contrast, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Moldova (HCHRM) claims to have observed a series of infringements at the referendum:[19]

  1. Groups of activists going into people’s homes, especially in Tiraspol and Bender districts, asking why they did not come to the referendum, and threatening that after the referendum they will be forced to look for a new home in Romania.
  2. At some voting stations agents dressed in civil or militia uniforms forcing the observers from outside the sections to stay at a distance of 200–250 meters far from these places.
  3. "Cleaning" of the list of voters by excluding some citizens who previously boycotted elections and referendums held in Transnistria.
  4. "Electoral tourism" and multiple voting [20]

Karel De Gucht (Chairman of the OSCE) expressed an opinion about the "lack of basic requirements for free and fair elections, such as freedom of the media, freedom of assembly and political pluralism, in the region pre-determined the results" and argued that the questions in the referendum are suggestively worded.[21] In a possible manipulation of the public opinion, people are asked to choose between freedom ("free association") and loss of independence ("renounce the Transnistria's independent status"), between reality ("support the course") and possibility ("consider it possible") This formulation could have resulted in a response bias.[22]

Victor Josu, deputy editor-in-chief of Russian-language Moldovan newspaper Moldavskiye Vedomosti, an accredited observer, described the referendum as a successful public relations action (regardless of violations and a lack of recognition) and reported favorably on a comparison between "recognized Chişinau" and "unrecognized Tiraspol" in an article which emphasized the openness, transparency and glasnost of the referendum process.[23]

Sergei Bagapsh, president of Abkhazia (Abkhazia claims independence from Georgia, but has a disputed status), has said his republic "supports the aspirations of Transniestria toward independence and its choice of unification with Russia." [24]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Transnistrische Moldawische Republik (Moldawien), 17. September 2006 : Verzicht auf Unabhängigkeit Direct Democracy
  2. ^ Transnistrische Moldawische Republik (Moldawien), 17. September 2006 : Unabhängigkeitskurs und Beitritt zu Russland Direct Democracy
  3. ^ Moldovan NGOs regard Transnistrian referendum as a farce; Transnistrian electorate shrinking dramtically
  4. ^ PMR CEC announces final referendum results (Russian)
  5. ^ Landslide win for independence vote in Pridnestrovie's referendum
    Chisinau officials do not recognise Transnistrian referendum's preliminary results
  6. ^ Regnum.ru news agency: "Exit-polls can be held in Transdnestr not closer than 25 m to polling stations", 11 September 2006
  7. ^ OSCE will not recognize results of referendum in Transnistria[dead link]
  8. ^ http://www.europa-eu-un.org/articles/en/article_6257_en.htm
  9. ^ Russia Blocked Council of Europe Declaration Regarding the Disapproval of Transnistria Referendum[dead link]
  10. ^ Turkey, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia Iceland and Norway positions[dead link]
  11. ^ Transdnestr for independence, union with Russia - referendum
  12. ^ International observer: Referendum in Transdnestr conforms to international norms
  13. ^ «Ольвия-Пресс»
  14. ^ John Mackinlay and Peter Cross (editors), Regional Peacekeepers: The Paradox of Russian Peacekeeping, United Nations University Press, 2003, ISBN 92-808-1079-0 p. 137
  15. ^ Ukraine calls Transnistrian referendum illegitimate Accessed 6 March 2007
  16. ^ OSCE - Media in Transdniestria
  17. ^ International Herald-Tribune: "Moldova's independence-seeking Transnistria region votes, but effect is uncertain"
  18. ^ Lenta.ru: "International observers were satisfied with the process of voting in Transnistria" (in Russian)
  19. ^ HCHRM press release[dead link]
  20. ^ Results of Transnistrian referendum were falsified - Infoprim
  21. ^ Agencia Internacional de Noticias
  22. ^ Lenta.ru Editorial
  23. ^ View from Moldova
  24. ^ President of Abkhazia comment, by Interfax

External links[edit]