Leonid Tibilov, former chief of the state security committee (KGB), fell short of the outright majority he needed to avoid a runoff in Sunday’s repeat presidential election in breakaway South Ossetia.
The breakaway region's Central Election Commission (CEC) announced on Monday morning, that Tibilov won 42.48% of votes, followed by South Ossetian leader’s special envoy for human rights issues David Sanakoev with 24.58%.
Tibilov will face Sanakoev in the second round to be held within next 15 days, most likely on April 8.
Contrary to some predictions, the breakaway region's long-time envoy to Moscow Dmitry Medoev, is now out of the race after garnering 23.8% of votes. Local news agency, RES, reported that Medoev’s election headquarters admitted defeat.
The fourth candidate, Communist Party leader Stanislav Kochiev, garnered 5.6%.
Voter turnout in Sunday's repeat presidential election was 70.28%, according to the breakaway region’s CEC.
Tibilov was head of the breakaway region's state security committee (KGB) in 1990s and became involved in the work of Joint Control Commission, now defunct negotiating body with the Georgian side, from 1999.
He was chairman of board of directors of a local bank in Tskhinvali in 2007-2009. His most recent official post was a consultant to the South Ossetian leader's special envoy for post-conflict issues.
Sanakoev, 35, was appointed by ex-South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity as his envoy for human rights issues in 2004.
Sunday’s repeat poll was a third attempt to elect the breakaway region’s new leader since November, when the race went into runoff, won by an opposition candidate Alla Jioyeva, but its results were annulled prompting street protests. Jioyeva was sidelined from the political processes since then and was not running in the repeat polls. She said that all four candidates running in the repeat elections “have been thoroughly selected” by “certain forces” and vice-speaker of parliament in breakaway region, Yuri Dzitsoiti, said last month that only those candidates remained on ballot papers “who have been agreed in Moscow”.
Elections in the breakaway region are denounced as illegitimate by Tbilisi and the international community, except of Russia and few other countries, which have recognized South Ossetia and Georgia’s another breakaway region of Abkhazia.
“These kinds of events in the occupied territories are directed towards attempts to legitimize ethnic cleansing and results of forceful change of demographic situation there. The international community is unanimous and shares Georgia’s position and recognizes these territories as occupied [by Russia],” Georgia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Nino Kalandadze, said on March 26.