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TSKHINVAL, November 13 (Itar-Tass) — South Ossetia started the presidential elections and the referendum on the status of the Russian language.
The republic opened 84 polling stations, two polls work outside the republic – in Moscow and Sukhum – cities where there are South Ossetian embassies. Among polling stations that opened in the republic, there are two in the village of Verkhny Ruk, a village located close to Russia. They were set up for South Ossetians living in North Ossetia.
A high turnout was registered at the start of the voting despite the snowfall and the frosty weather – 5 degrees Celsius.
Head of the Ministry for Emergencies Anatoly Bibilov was the first among presidential candidates to come to a polling station. He came with his family – the wife and three younger children.
Replying to questions from waiting reporters, Bibilov said that he “voted for the future of his republic” which is to change for the better even tomorrow. He promised that the republic “will start restoring at other rates even tomorrow”.
Voters can make their choice by putting a tick on a ballot paper, casting it into a traditional ballot box—no means of electronic ballot-counting will be used at these elections.
There is a separate ballot paper where voters can express whether they want to raise the Russian language from the official level to the status of the state tongue along with the Ossetian.
When the polling stations close at 20.00, the results of ballot-counting will be sent to five territorial election commissions (TEC), located in districts of the republic and in Tskhinval, the republican capital. Information from TECs will be forwarded to the South Ossetian Central Election Commission in Tskhinval.
Chairwoman of the South Ossetian CEC Bella Plieva said that 32,700 voters registered in the republic to participate in the presidential elections and the referendum. Taking into account citizens of the republic living abroad, their total number will add up to 50,000. Therefore, 52,000 ballot papers were printed for the elections.
As many as 1,200 police officers ensure law and order on Election Day. All polling stations and surrounding areas are put under control.
The South Ossetian CEC reported that around 60 representatives from the mass media cover the elections. The polls are monitors by 80 observers from Russia, Abkhazia, the breakaway Dniester republic, France, Israel, Britain, Ukraine and Poland.