Transnistrian referendum, 2006

Transnistrian referendum, 2006

The 2006 referendum in Transnistria took place in Transnistria on 17 September 2006. On that date, Transnistria voted to continue its de facto independence and seek closer ties with Russia.

Political climate

The Transnistrian Supreme Court banned political organisations in 2001-2002 on the ground that they were "against the state", by supporting reunification with Moldova [ [http://72.14.221.104/search?q=cache:AsRNnOChtakJ:www.moldova.org/download/eng/515/+Mihai+Grecu,+Anatol&hl=ro&gl=ro&ct=clnk&cd=2 The policy of ethnic cleansing in Transdniestria] ] .

Four members of pro-Moldovan NGO "Dignitas" from Slobozia were arrested by Transnistrian Special Forces before the referendum, but were released immediately after interrogation (according to Transnistrian sources) [ [http://www.tiraspoltimes.com/news/disinformation_and_dirty_tricks_in_referendum_campaign.html Disinformation and dirty tricks in referendum campaign] , Tiraspol Times, 09/Sep/2006] or after few days in custody (according to Moldovan sources) [ [http://azi.md/news?ID=40625 Transnistria Special Forces release members of organization Dignitas] ] . No charges were brought against them.

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 [ [http://conflict.md/stiri.php?ID=1392 MOLDOVAN NGOs REGARD TRANSNISTRIAN REFERENDUM AS A FARCE; TRANSNISTRIAN ELECTORATE SHRINKING DRAMATICALLY] ]

Official results

Data issued by Transnistrian authorities show that of the 555,500 inhabitants, a total of 394,861 were registered to vote, down 5.6% from a year earlier. [ [http://www.olvia.idknet.com/ol225-09-06.htm PMR CEC announces final referendum results] ru icon]

The referendum asked voters:
# Do you support the course towards the independence of Transnistria and the subsequent free association with the Russian Federation?
Yes: 97.2% - No: 1.9% - Invalid/undecided: 0.9%
# Do you consider it possible to renounce Transnistria's independent status and subsequently become part of the Republic of Moldova?
Yes: 3.3% - No: 94.9% - Invalid/undecided: 1.8%

Voter turnout was 78.6%, substantially more than the 50%+1 required by law to validate the referendum. [ [http://www.tiraspoltimes.com/node/216 Landslide win for independence vote in Pridnestrovie's referendum]
[http://conflict.md/stiri.php?ID=1443 Chisinau officials do not recognise Transnistrian referendum's preliminary results]
] On the day of the referendum, no exit polling was allowed within 25 meters of polling stations, to prevent disruption of voting. [ [http://www.regnum.ru/english/702851.html Regnum.ru news agency: “Exit-polls can be held in Transdnestr not closer than 25 m to polling stations”, September 11,2006] ]

Reactions

International organisations, such as the OSCE [ [http://www.azi.md/news?ID=38790 OSCE will not recognize results of referendum in Transnistria] ] , European Union, GUAM, and some other countries (Bulgaria, Norway, Romania, Ukraine, Turkey, Croatia, Montenegro, Macedonia, Serbia, Albania, Bosnia, Iceland, Norway) did not recognise the referendum. [ [http://www.azi.md/news?ID=40985 Russia Blocked Council of Europe Declaration Regarding the Disapproval of Transnistria Referendum] ] [ [http://www.moldpres.md/default.asp?Lang=en&ID=49678 Turkey, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Bulgaria, Romania, Albania, Bosnia, Serbia Iceland and Norway positions] ]

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," [ [http://en.rian.ru/world/20060918/53992964.html Transdnestr for independence, union with Russia - referendum] ] and the representative of the Congress of Russian Communities from Moldova declared that the referendum was held according to international standards. [ [http://www.regnum.ru/english/706298.html International observer: Referendum in Transdnestr conforms to international norms] ] . 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. [ [http://www.olvia.idknet.com/ol176-09-06.htm «Ольвия-Пресс» ] ] Viktor Alksnis is known to have previously described the Transnistrian Republic as the base from which the Soviet Union's restoration would begin. [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]

In the opinion of the Ukrainian foreign ministry, the situation in Transnistria fails to meet the conditions of a free will expression by citizens. [ [http://conflict.md/stiri.php?ID=1483 Ukraine calls Transnistrian referendum illegitimate] Accessed 06 March 2007]

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. [ [http://www.osce.org/moldova/13427.html OSCE - Media in Transdniestria] ] Althoguh the OSCE decided not to send any observers to monitor the referendum, [ [http://www.iht.com/articles/2006/09/17/news/moldova.php International Herald-Tribune: "Moldova's independence-seeking Transnistria region votes, but effect is uncertain"] ] 130 observers from CIS and Europe and from eleven election monitoring organizations who did attend the referendum had different reactions. [ [http://lenta.ru/news/2006/09/18/watch/ Lenta.ru: "International observers were satisfied with the process of voting in Transnistria" (in Russian)] ]

In contrast, the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Moldova (HCHRM) claims to have observed a series of infringements at the referendum [ [http://conflict.md/stiri.php?ID=1448 HCHRM press release] ] :
# 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.
# 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.
# "Cleaning" of the list of voters by excluding some citizens who previously boycotted elections and referendums held in Transnistria.
# "Electoral tourism" and multiple voting [ [http://www.info-prim.md/?x=&y=3956 Results of Transnistrian referendum were falsified - Infoprim] ]

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. [ [http://www.noticias.info/asp/aspComunicados.asp?nid=220752&src=0 Agencia Internacional de Noticias] ] 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. [ [http://www.lenta.ru/articles/2006/09/18/vote/ Lenta.ru Editorial] ]

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. [ [http://www.olvia.idknet.com/ol178-09-06.htm View from Moldova] ]

Sergei Bagapsh, president of Abkhazia (Abkhazia claims independence from Georgia, but has a disputed status), has said his republic "supports the aspirations of Transdniestria toward independence and its choice of unification with Russia." [ [http://www.interfax.ru/e/B/politics/28.html?id_issue=11589835 President of Abkhazia comment] , by Interfax ]

See also

*Elections in Transnistria
*Fallacy of many questions
*Human rights in Transnistria
*Politics of Transnistria

References

External links

* [http://www.regnum.ru/english/706298.html "International observer: Referendum in Transdnestr conforms to international norms"] "Regnum News"
* [http://www.voanews.com/english/2006-09-17-voa30.cfm "Moldova's Trans-Dniester Votes in Referendum on Whether to Pursue Independence"] "Voice of America News"
* [http://en.rian.ru/trend/Transdne/ Transdnestr independence plebiscite] "RIA Novosti"
* [http://www.osce.org/item/20620.html OSCE reaction]
* [http://www.olvia.idknet.com/ol162-09-06.htm Final monitoring report by international observers]
* [http://www.rferl.org/featuresarticle/2006/09/2921dabd-b521-449a-a326-bf81bbe3ac88.html Transdniester Conflict Was Long In The Making] Radio Free Europe


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