The July 19 presidential vote marks the departure of de facto President Arkady Ghukassian from the leadership of this breakaway territory after a decade in power. Five candidates campaigned to take his place, though the race largely revolved around only two: Bako Saakian, the reserved 46-year-old former head of Karabakh's security service, and Masis Mailian, the territory's media-friendly, English-speaking 39-year-old de facto deputy foreign minister.
Turnout at 5pm was put at 65.7 percent or some 60,267 voters. Polls were due to close at 8 pm local time, or 11 am New York time.
The contest has been depicted by some Western analysts as yet another regional show-down between relatively conservative, pro-Russian forces and relatively liberal, pro-Western forces.
The concept of such a rivalry is largely rejected within Karabakh itself, however. "Russia is very far from Nagorno-Karabakh," commented de facto President Ghukassian said in an interview July 18. Most people interviewed in Karabakh characterized the race as a test of the territory's ability to show the outside world that it possessed the democratic credentials to fend for itself.
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Elizabeth Owen is EurasiaNetÆs Caucasus news editor in Tbilisi. Sophia Mizante is a freelance photojournalist based in Tbilisi.