Breakaway region of South Ossetia is holding a presidential runoff on Sunday after tight race two weeks ago sent the election into the second round.
The breakaway region's emergency situations minister Anatoly Bibilov and ex-education minister Alla Jioyeva each are facing each other in the runoff; each of them garnered up to 25% of votes in the first round in which total of eleven candidates were running.
Bibilov, who has always been regarded as the Kremlin's favorite, was received by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev when the latter visited Russia's North Ossetian capital Vladikavkaz on November 21. "Medvedev noted that Russia was interested in South Ossetia having efficient leadership,” the Kremlin said in a statement after the meeting.
Bibilov secured backing from some of the ex-candidates, including from head of the local bread factory Vadim Tskhovrebov, who was third in the first round with 9.9% of votes. Deputy mayor of Tskhinvali, Alan Kotaev, who received 9.6% of votes also announced about supporting Bibilov.
Several other ex-candidates, including Vladimir Kelekhsaev, who garnered 6.6% in the first round, announced about supporting Alla Jioyeva. The latter is also supported by Russian free-style-wrestling team trainer, Jambolat Tedeev - outgoing South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity's fierce opponent, who was barred from running in the presidential election on the grounds of failing to meet 10-year residency requirement.
Ahead of the runoff Bibilov accused Jioyeva of trying to win the election with the help from Tbilisi; Bibilov said that ethnic Georgia was leading Jioyeva's campaign in Akhalgori, district predominately populated by ethnic Georgians, which before the August, 2008 war was under Tbilisi's control. Jioyeva responded the accusations by bringing results of the vote in Akhalgori during the first round, saying that she had received there only 150 votes against Bibilov's 600.
At least 30% of voters should cast thier ballot in the Sunday's runoff in order to make the poll valid, according to the breakaway region's election rules.