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Georgia's Breakaway South Ossetia Region Holds 'Elections' For Parliament

Votes are counted in the South Ossetian poll on June 9.
Votes are counted in the South Ossetian poll on June 9.

Elections for the legislative body in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia were held on June 9.

Anatoly Bibilov, the self-proclaimed president of South Ossetia, called on voters to "make the right choice" and for the winning legislators to give more attention in their work "to the people of the South Ossetian Republic," where unemployment and poverty are quite prevalent.

A total of 98 candidates are competing for 34 seats in the so-called national parliament.

The Georgian Foreign Ministry denounced the vote, saying in a June 9 statement that the "so-called parliamentary elections" in South Ossetia "grossly violate Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity."

The EU has said it would not recognize the "constitutional and legislative frameworks" in which the elections are being held.

Bella Plieva, the chairwoman of South Ossetia's election commission, said early on June 10 that the United Ossetia party had won the most votes in a preliminary count of the votes. She added that the People's Party was second and that turnout was 65 percent.

Voters could cast ballots at 73 different polling stations in the breakaway region or in Moscow, Sukhumi, or North Ossetia.

An unnamed male voter in South Ossetia told the Reuters news agency that "peace" was the number one issue for him in the elections. "Then we need [more] jobs," he added.

South Ossetia, a region of some 53,000 people in northern Georgia, gained de facto independence and was recognized by Russia as a country after the brief Russian-Georgian war of 2008.

With reporting by Reuters, Interfax, and TASS

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