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The Transdniestrian presidential election

I guess it's possible that you have missed some interesting developments over the other side of Europe, where the voters of the unrecognised state of Transdniestria have kicked out not only the strongman who had run the place since the end of the 1992 conflict with Moldova, but also the Kremlin's chosen candidate to replace him. In the first round of the election, on 11 December, incumbent Igor Smirnov came third with less than 25% of the votes; he was pipped for second place by the Kremlin-supported Anatoliy Kaminsky, who got 26.5%, with Kaminsky's predecessor as Speaker of the Transnistrian Supreme Soviet, Yevgeny Shevchuk, on 38.5%.

Christmas is celebrated in January in Transnistria (as far as it's celebrated at all) so the runiff between Shevchuk and Kaminsky was held yesterday. I must say that looking at the first round results I wondered if traditionalists who had supported Smirnov in the first round would shift behind Kaminsky to take him ahead. The number of votes involved is very small - Shevchuk had got 95,000, Kaminsky 65,000 and Smirnov 61,000 in the first round. But in fact the opposite occurred; Kaminsky actually lost votes, getting only 44,000 in the second round, and Shevchuk crushing him with 165,000. (Almost 10,000 voted against both, which is an option in Transdniestria - see official results.)

It's small beer, of course, compared to what has been happening in Russia, but it makes an interesting pattern with the elections in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia this year also having gone the wrong way from the Kremlin's perspective. It is all grist to the mill of Nina Caspersen's thesis that the internal politics of unrecogised states, even the most marionettish of puppet regimes, can be worthy of study and analysis.

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