Voting has begun in the breakaway region of Transdniestria in Moldova, to decide who will lead it for the next five years. Close to 400,000 voters are able to cast a ballot for one of four candidates to be president. It is widely believed that incumbent Igor Smirnov will return to power for a fourth term. He has held the job since Transdniestria threw off Moldovan rule and proclaimed itself independent, 16 years ago.
Smirnov supports integration with Russia, which maintains troops in the region. A referendum in September showed an overwhelming majority of residents agree.
Transdniestria’s self-declared statehood is not accepted by the international community. Moldova and the European Union refuse to recognise the poll but Russian parliamentarians will observe the vote.