Presidential elections and a referendum on language held in South Ossetia on Sunday are valid as more than half of voters turned out at the polling stations, the breakaway region’s Central Election Commission (CEC) said.
Over 66% of voters cast their ballot as of 7pm local time, one hour before the polling stations were closed, according to the CEC.
Russian news agencies reported that exit polls conducted by two Moscow-based research groups Institute for Social Marketing and High School of Economics, showed that Minister for Emergency Situations of the breakaway region, Anatoly Bibilov, leads in the elections with 48% - if the official results are the same it means that a second round will be held in two weeks. Opposition candidate Alla Jioyeva, former education minister, comes second with 30%, according to exit polls.
Elections in the breakaway region are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community, except of Russia and few other countries, which have recognized the region.
NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said when he visited Georgia last week, that the Alliance’s reaction to the elections in South Ossetia “will be exactly the same as to the elections in Abkhazia” in August, 2011.
“We pursue a clear non-recognition policy; we have not recognized and we will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states… We insist on full respect for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity,” Rasmussen said on November 9 in Tbilisi.