01:41 GMT +318 February 2019
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    MOSCOW, January 4 (RIA Novosti) - Moscow is attentively watching extraordinary presidential elections in Georgia, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Yakovenko told RIA Novosti.

    "We are interested in that Georgia should be a democratic, stable state maintaining friendly relations with its neighbors, where political pluralism will be preserved and interests of all nations living in that country respected," he said.

    Presidential elections in Georgia started at 8am local time. The Central Election Commission said 2,836 polling stations are opened in Georgia's 79 election districts. Elections are taking place all over Georgia except for Abkhazia and the main part of South Ossetia (self-proclaimed republics). Here, elections are held only in the Georgian village of Tamarasheni in the area of the Georgo-Abkhazian conflict.

    Five candidates are participating in the elections. They are: National Movement leader Mikhail Saakashvili; David the Builder political movement leader Roin Liparteliani; Georgian Lawyers Association leader Kartlos Garibashvili; nongovernment organization Georgia's Disabled League leader Zaza Sikharulidze and Imeretia's (Georgian region) governor Teimuraz Shashiashvili.

    Early elections are taking place after Eduard Shevardnadze resigned from the post of Georgian president after mass protest rallies against falsification of parliamentary elections returns.

    The elections will be declared valid in case 50 per cent of the voters plus one more person take place in them.