Officials in Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region say the speaker of the de facto parliament, Anatoly Bibilov, has won a presidential election condemned by Tbilisi and the West as illegitimate.
The head of the separatist government's election commission, Bella Pliyeva, said on April 10 that with about 90 percent of the ballots counted, Bibilov had around 58 percent of the vote -- enough to avoid a second-round runoff.
Incumbent leader Leonid Tibilov had 30 percent and regional KGB security service officer Alan Gagloyev had 11 percent, Pliyeva said.
Pliyeva added that some 78 percent of voters supported a proposal to change the region's name from the Republic of South Ossetia to the Republic of South Ossetia-Alania.
As with past ballots in South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another Russia-backed breakaway region, the United States, the European Union, and Georgia called the April 9 votes illegitimate and said they would not recognize the results.
In a statement on April 9, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said the name-change referendum in the region “aims at laying the ground for its illegal annexation” by Russia.
Russia recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent countries after fighting a brief war against Georgia in 2008, and maintains thousands of troops in both regions.