Speaker wins election in Russia-backed Georgia breakaway region South Ossetia

By bne IntelliNews April 11, 2017

Speaker of the de facto parliament of the Russian-backed breakaway South Ossetia region of Georgia, Anatoly Bibilov, has won a presidential election condemned by Tbilisi and the West as illegitimate, according to an April 10 statement from the head of the separatist government's election commission, Bella Pliyeva.

Pliyeva said that with around 90% of votes tallied, Bibilov had taken around 58%, meaning there would be no need to have a second-round runoff.

The incumbent, Leonid Tibilov, took 30% and regional KGB security service officer Alan Gagloyev 11%, she added.

The results also showed that 78% of voters backed a proposal to change the region's name from the Republic of South Ossetia to the Republic of South Ossetia-Alania.

The European Union, Georgia and the US described the votes as illegitimate and declared that they would not recognise the results. This has been their default position in regard to past ballots in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region supported by Moscow.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry said in an April 9 statement that the name change referendum was aimed at “laying the ground for [South Ossetia’s] illegal annexation” by Russia.

Russia recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent after its brief 2008 war with Georgia. It has stationed thousands of troops in both regions.

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