SUKHUM, Georgia, Dec. 12 (UPI) -- Voters in Abkhazia took to the polls Saturday for the first time since the republic broke away from Georgia last year, election observers said.
About 174 polling stations were opened, with two located in the Russian cities of Moscow and Cherkessk, where 7,000 ballot papers were delivered, ITAR-Tass reported.
The Abkhazian Central Electoral Commission told the news agency about 127,000 people were eligible to vote for five candidates running for Abkhazian president. They include incumbent Sergei Bagapsh of the United Abkhazia Party, Vitaly Bganba, ex-Vice President Raul Khadzhimba, Zaur Ardzinba and Beslan Butba of the Economic Development Party.
The Abkhazian Foreign Ministry told ITAR-Tass 100 international observers from about 20 countries were to observe the elections, including a large group from Russia.
Russia is only one of three countries to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries after the August 2008 Russia Georgia conflict, RIA Novosti reported. The only other countries to recognize the two republics have been Nicaragua and Venezuela.