Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have held elections, but the European Union and the United States refused to recognize the polls.
In South Ossetia, voters cast ballots Sunday to chose a new president after disputed November elections were annulled by a local court. However, none of the four candidates won the majority necessary to claim an outright victory, and the top two will meet in the run-off scheduled for April 8.
Leonid Tibilov, a former KGB chief in South Ossetia, received 42 percent of the vote and will face human rights commissioner David Sanakoyev, who won 25 percent.
Also Sunday, Abkhazia held parliamentary elections, with both pro-government and opposition candidates making it into the legislative body.
Both breakaway regions have close ties to Russia, which recognizes them as independent states. However, the European Union and the United States refused to recognize the elections.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Monday “the U.S. does not recognize the de facto elections held in the Abkhazia region of Georgia, nor does it recognize those that were held in South Ossetia.” She reiterated Washington's support for Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, and she urged Russia to pull its troops out.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the 27-member bloc “does not recognize the constitutional and legal framework within which these elections have taken place.” She reiterated support for the territorial integrity and sovereignty of Georgia, as recognized by international law.