The breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia has held a presidential run-off election, picking a former KGB chief who is supported by Russia. The election was rejected by Georgia as illegitimate.
A pro-Russian former KGB officer has been elected president of the breakaway Georgian province of South Ossetia, election officials said Monday.
A full vote count in Sunday's run-off election showed Leonid Tibilov won with 54 percent of the vote, according to local election commission chief Bella Pliyeva. Tibilov's opponent, human rights ombudsman David Sanakoyev, won 42 percent.
About 35,000 people were registered to vote in the tiny province, which depends on Russian financial and military aid.
"We will develop the relationship with Russia in all areas. We are aiming to make an old dream about the reunification of South and North Ossetia a reality," Tibilov told reporters in the regional capital, Tskhinvali.
North Ossetia belongs to Russia, and while the Kremlin supports South Ossetian independence, analysts believe it is unlikely to support annexation for the time being to avoid confrontation with the West. Most of South Ossetia's population have Russian passports, and many also voted in Russia's presidential election last month.
South Ossetia and the province of Abkhazia declared independence after the brief 2008 war between Georgia and Russia. Moscow has recognized their sovereignty, but most other world powers maintain that the regions must remain part of Georgia. Georgia rejected Sunday's election as illegitimate.
A previous presidential poll was held last November, but the South Ossetia Supreme Court found it invalid after the candidate backed by Russia and the outgoing president lost and accused his opponent of campaign violations.
acb/tj (AP, AFP, Reuters)