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Separatist leader says his pro-Russian region wants independence and then to join Russia

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CHISINAU, Moldova — A separatist leader says the Trans-Dniester region of Moldova wants independence — and eventually to join Russia.

Evgheny Shevciuk, president of the self-proclaimed republic, said Monday the "Trans-Dniester people" want to be recognized as an independent state.

"Our dream is to have a successful, independent Trans-Dniester, together with Russia," he said. The region voted in a 2006 referendum to join Russia but these were the strongest words on secession in recent months.

Trans-Dniester is a strip of land that borders Russian-speaking Ukraine, hundreds of kilometers (miles) from Russia.

The region, which broke away from Moldova in 1990, is not officially recognized but is supported by Russia which has 1,500 troops stationed there.

There was no reaction to the comments from Moldova, which is seeking to join the European Union.

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