Accessibility links

Breaking News

Longtime Separatist Leader Ahead in South Ossetia Election

Initial results from South Ossetia's first parliamentary election since last year's war give the main party backing longtime separatist leader Eduard Kokoity a huge lead.

Early returns in the breakaway Georgian region say the Unity party is far in front of three other parties for control of the 34-seat parliament. Voter turnout was high and final results are expected Monday.

Opposition leaders called for an election boycott, accusing Kokoity of stifling dissent and intimidating his critics.

They also accuse Kokoity, a former Russian wrestling champion, of stealing reconstruction money sent by Russia.

Kokoity defended the election, calling it, in his words, "a test of our people's maturity" and "a test of the stability of our democracy."

Russia recognized South Ossetia and a second breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, as independent countries after beating back Georgia's attempt to retake control of South Ossetia by force.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.