Local self governance elections held in Abkhazia on February 11 “mainly corresponded to international electoral and democratic norms,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in an information note issued on February 14.
“High voter turnout was observed in all districts" of Abkhazia, including the Georgian-populated Gali District, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“Our attention has been drawn by a statement of the chairman of the Abkhaz Central Election Commission, Batal Tabagua, who said that voter turnout in the Gali District, which is populated mainly by ethnic Georgians, exceeded 60% and the election process there was held without any incidents. As a result, the Abkhaz authorities have confirmed by deeds that not only do they not hinder the return of Georgian refugees to the Gali District, but also provide them with basic constitutional rights, including the right to vote,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
“We hope that upcoming parliamentary elections in Abkhazia [scheduled for March 4] will further confirm these intentions of the Abkhaz authorities,” the information note reads.
A similar statement was issued by the Russian Foreign Ministry after the November 12 presidential elections and independence referendum in breakaway South Ossetia, which described the polls as an expression of free will by the South Ossetian people through “democratic procedures.”
The Georgian side has yet to comment on the Russian Foreign Ministry statement.
The Georgian side has, however, accused the secessionist authorities in Abkhazia of intimidating the local population in Gali on the eve of elections. President Saakashvili said on February 12 that the Georgian population of the Gali District of breakaway Abkhazia “showed heroism” by boycotting local elections in the unrecognized republic.