Parliamentary elections are underway in the Russian-backed rebel region of South Ossetia.
The vote, which comes nine months after a devastating 5 day invasion by Georgia, is expected to enable separatist leader Eduard Kokoity to tighten his grip on power.
The opposition accuse him of trying to change the constitution so he can run again in 2011.
While success in today’s poll would help Kokoity to achieve this he has denied wanting to run for a third term. But, opponents say the regions population is losing patience with him and have called on Moscow to intervene.
The ballot comes as NATO war exercises, which have angered the Kremlin, come to a close in neighbouring Georgia.
‘‘I expect radical changes from these elections, changes for the better, this man said. I expect that the rebuilding of the city will finally get started. I expect the parliament to work in a more efficient way, more productive way.’‘
South Ossetia was badly hit by last year’s war with Tbilisi. Almost a year on thousands of people still remain homeless.
Only Russia and Nicaragua recognise the break-away region as a sovereign state. The rest of the world still considers it a part of Georgia.