Moscow favourite leads in South Ossetia vote: exit poll
Exit polls showed Kremlin-backed candidate Anatoly Bibilov has come top in a first round of voting for a new leader in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia on Sunday.
As polls closed at 8:00 pm (1600 GMT), Bibilov, the current emergencies minister, had scored 48.1 percent of the vote in the rebel republic which was voting for the first time since Russia recognised its independence after Moscow's 2008 war with Tbilisi.
In second place was former education minister Alla Dzhioyeva with 30.7 percent of the vote.
As no candidate won an absolute majority of votes, voting will go to a second round.
Voter turnout was 66.26 percent, according to South Ossetia's electoral commission.
Whoever succeeds Eduard Kokoity -- the former wrestling champion who has dominated South Ossetia for a decade -- will be seen as illegitimate by most of the world as its independence is recognised only by Russia and a handful of far-flung states.
© 2011 AFP