Voters in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia cast their ballots on March 10 to elect 35-member Parliament.
174 polling stations were opened on Saturday morning in the breakaway region, which is electing its legislative body for a five-year term.
Parliament members are elected through a majoritarian system in single-mandate constituencies.
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 Abkhazia.
According to the breakaway region’s Central Election Commission total of 148 candidates are running for seats in the Parliament, including 16 women and 21 incumbent lawmakers.
Only 34 of them have been nominated by political parties and others are “independent candidates” nominated by “initiative groups.”
The ruling party, United Abkhazia, and the opposition Forum for the National Unity of Abkhazia, led by Raul Khajimba, have nominated 11 candidates each.
Six candidates have been nominated by the Party of the Economic Development, led by Beslan Butba and the same number of candidates is running from the Communist Party.
According to the breakaway region’s central election commission there are two ethnic Georgians among the candidates, Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported. It also reported that 125 candidates are ethnic Abkhazians; nine Armenians; eight Russians; two Greeks; one Ossetian and one Kabardian.
Parliamentary elections come less than seven months after the snap presidential election in the breakaway region in which Alexander Ankvab was elected as the new leader and less than three weeks after a failed attempt on Ankvab’s life.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said that the assassination attempt on Ankvab aimed at destabilizing situation ahead of the parliamentary elections in Abkhazia.
But Ankvab himself spoke about “mafia, criminal groups” and “political circles close” to these groups when commenting on possible masterminds of his assassination attempt on February 22 when his motorcade was attacked killing his bodyguard; another one died in hospital two weeks later.
The parliamentary elections also come less than a week after voters in Abkhazia cast ballot in Russia’s presidential election.
Abkhaz news agency, Apsnipress, reported that 74,135 voters cast their ballot in Russia’s presidential election in Abkhazia, 90.9% of which voted for Putin.