EARLIER THIS YEAR, THE REPUBLIC OF Moldova became the first East European state to grant wide-ranging local autonomy to a restive ethnic minority. On 13 January, Moldovan President Mircea Snegur promulgated the law on Gagauz Yeri (literally, "the Gagauz land"), creating an autonomous territorial unit for the 153,000 Turkic Gagauzi living in Moldova's southern steppe region. Since then, the legislation has been steadily implemented. On 5 March, local residents participated in a referendum to decide whether their villages would join the new autonomous unit, and in May and June, voters returned to the polls to elect a governor and popular assembly for the region.

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