Support for the Soviet Union remained high, with a referendum in March 1991 returning an almost unanimous vote in favour of remaining part of the USSR. Many Gagauz supported the Moscow coup attempt in August 1991, and Gagauzia declared itself independent on 19 August 1991, followed in September by Transnistria, thus further straining relations with Chişinău. However, when the Moldovan parliament voted on whether Moldova should become independent on 27 August 1991, six of the 12 Gagauz deputies in Moldovan parliament voted in favour, while the other six did not participate. Eventually, the Moldovan government toned down its pro-Romanian stance and paid more attention to minority rights.
In February 1994, President Mircea Snegur promised the Gagauz autonomy, but he was against outright independence. He was also opposed to the suggestion that Moldova become a federal state made up of three republics: Moldova, Gagauzia, and Transnistria.
Also in 1994, the Parliament of Moldova awarded to "the people of Gagauzia" (through the adoption of the new Constitution of Moldova) the right of "external self-determination". On 23 December 1994, the Parliament of the Republic of Moldova accepted the "Law on the Special Legal Status of Gagauzia" (Gagauz: Gagauz Yeri), resolving the dispute peacefully. This date is now a Gagauz holiday. Gagauzia is now a "national-territorial autonomous unit" with three official languages: Romanian, Gagauz, and Russian.
Three cities and 23 communes were included in the Autonomous Gagauz Territory: all localities with over 50% Gagauz, and those localities with between 40% and 50% Gagauz which expressed their desire to be included as a result of referendums to determine Gagauzia's borders. In 1995, Georgi Tabunshik was elected to serve as the Governor (Romanian: Guvernator, Gagauz: Bașkan) of Gagauzia for a four-year term, as were the deputies of the local parliament, "The People's Assembly" (Gagauz: "Halk Toplușu"), with Petr Pashali as chairman.
Dmitrii Croitor won the 1999 governor elections and began to make use of the rights granted to the governor by the 1994 agreement. The central authorities of Moldova proved unwilling to accept the results initiating a lengthy stand-off between the autonomy and Chişinău. Finally Croitor resigned in 2002 due to the pressure from the Moldovan government, which accused him of abuse of authority, relations with the separatist authorities of Transnistria and other charges.Girhazier
The photos all; in Balti yesterday