Freedom in the World
Russian president Dmitri Medvedev hosted a meeting between Moldovan president Vladimir Voronin and Transnistrian president Igor Smirnov in March 2009, and the three leaders signed a declaration that effectively endorsed a continued Russian troop presence in Transnistria until a political settlement on the breakaway region’s status could be reached. Follow-up talks between Voronin and Smirnov were scuttled later that month, however, and an opposition victory in Moldovan elections in July added a new element of uncertainty to the negotiation process.
Residents of Transnistria cannot elect their leaders democratically, and they are unable to participate freely in Moldovan elections. While the PMR maintains its own legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, no country recognizes its independence. Both the president and the 43-seat, unicameral Supreme Council are elected to five-year terms. Having won reelection in December 2006 with 82 percent of the vote, Igor Smirnov is now serving his fourth term as president, and he has said that he will not step down until Transnistria is independent. The international community has generally considered the presidential and parliamentary elections held since 1992 to be neither free nor fair, although they have not been monitored.
Women are underrepresented in most positions of authority, and domestic violence against women is a problem. Transnistria is a significant source and transit point for trafficking in women for the purpose of prostitution. Homosexuality is illegal in Transnistria.