CHISINAU, Moldova – More than 100,000 people are voting for a new governor of a semi-autonomous region in Moldova, where many disapprove of European integration and seek closer ties to Russia.
Polls opened Sunday morning in Gagauzia, southern Moldova, where the population is mainly Turkish Christians, and will close in the evening. The front-runners are a pro-Russian candidate and a former mayor, both lawmakers in Moldova's Parliament. There will be a runoff if no candidate secures a majority of votes.
The region enjoys economic autonomy, but has Moldovan police, schools and courts.
Moldovan authorities are concerned about attempts by Russia to destabilize the country. Moscow opposes the government's efforts to join the European Union.
This week, two Russian journalists were banned for five years and a Russian television crew sent to cover the Gagauzia elections was denied entry to the country.