Vladislav Surkov, aide to the Russian president Vladimir Putin who oversees Georgia`s Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions told the Russian media that the victory of Anatoly Bibilov was "predictable", but "exceeded all expectations" by the margin of victory.
According to the election commission, Bibilov, who chairs the legislature won with 57.9% against his main opponent, seating president Leonid Tibilov, who gained 30%. The results are preliminary, but are unlikely to change significantly until the commission will announce its final tally in five days. Tibilov has conceded defeat.
Bibilov was considered as an underdog, since March 21 Vladimir Putin met with Tibilov in Moscow in an encounter that was considered as an overt endorsement. Surkov is deeply implicated in all political decisions of the breakaway republics, especially when it comes to appointments at the lower ranks as it became clear from the leaked "Surkov emails".
As his victory was announced, true to his election promise, Bibilov told the Russian state agency TASS that joining Russia would be his "strategic objective" and this would be done "in close contact with our Russian colleagues."
The Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov was quick to congratulate the victor, noting the "competitive democratic political process" of elections and expressing his satisfaction that the two frontrunners were "convinced supporters of the furthering of the close relations between Russia and South Ossetia."
Tbilisi has condemned the polls as illegitimate, a notion that was supported in statements of the key international organisations and Georgia`s partner states. The vote was preceded by entry into force of the agreement that puts the troops of the region under ther Russian command, a move that some analysts consider prepares ground for the full annexation of Tskhinvali region/South Ossetia into Russia.