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MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. The members of Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Monday welcomed the victory of independent candidate Irina Vlah in the election of the head of Gagauzia, an autonomous region in Moldova.
According to preliminary data, Vlah gained more than 51% of the vote in the first round of election on Sunday. Under Moldova’s law, the head of Gagauzia becomes a member of the country’s government.
"We can only welcome this choice of the Gagauz people," said Leonid Slutsky, who chairs the State Duma’s committee on the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) affairs.
Vlah’s victory means that the Gagauzia autonomous region will continue its path towards the Eurasian integration and cooperation with Russia, the lawmaker said.
"Irina Vlah is mainly interested in developing relations with the Customs Union and in other words with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan, and the Eurasian Economic Union. Her political views are close to us," Slutsky stressed.
The election campaign in Gagauzia, which traditionally favours closer relations with Russia, was held on the backdrop of confrontation with the Moldovan authorities, which have embarked on a course towards integration into the European Union.
In February 2014, Gagauzia held a referendum, where 98% of voters spoke in favour of integration into the Russian-led Customs Union. Chisinau declared the Gagauz referendum illegitimate and opened criminal cases against its organizers.