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    Italian MEP calls vote in South Ossetia 'model of democracy'

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    An Italian member of the European Parliament who was an official observer during South Ossetia's parliamentary elections on May 31 said on Wednesday the vote should serve as an example of democracy.

    RIGA, June 3 (RIA Novosti) - An Italian member of the European Parliament who was an official observer during South Ossetia's parliamentary elections on May 31 said on Wednesday the vote should serve as an example of democracy.

    South Ossetia on Sunday held its first parliamentary elections since Russia recognized it as independent last August following a war with Georgia. The ruling Unity party garnered 46.38% of the vote, local election authorities said citing preliminary results after all the ballots had been counted.

    "I have been an observer during many elections in countries after a war. I was in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Palestine. But what I saw in South Ossetia surprised me in a good way," Giulietto Chiesa said during a visit to Latvia, where he is a candidate of the For Human Rights in a United Latvia party in this month's European elections.

    "These elections were a model of democracy," Chiesa told RIA Novosti in Russian.

    The Italian former Communist said the West should recognize the parliamentary election results in the former Georgian republic and believes the accusations of some western politicians that the elections were rigged are unsubstantiated.

    "Western countries recognized the parliamentary elections in Afghanistan and Iraq, which had many more violations. It would be correct and fair if they recognized the elections in South Ossetia," the Italian politician said.

    The United States and other western countries refuse to recognize the elections.

    "The United States regrets the decision to hold so-called 'elections' in the South Ossetia region of Georgia on May 31, 2009, and recognizes neither the legality nor the results," the State Department said on Monday.

    "That's garbage. South Ossetia is a small country and everyone knows each other there. I think that any falsifications in the elections would have been noticed very quickly," Chiesa said. "Moreover, the South Ossetians need their own parliament as a means of self defense. If they have a parliament, there is less chance that someone will attack them."

    On Monday, a group of 11 international observers representing Italy, Germany, Poland and Russia announced that the elections in South Ossetia met international democratic standards.

     

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