TBILISI Oct 11 A small pro-Russian party has
won seats in the Georgian parliament despite Russian troops
controlling one fifth of the ex-Soviet republic and lingering
memories of a short war between the two countries less than 10
With 100 percent of the vote counted, data from the Central
Election Commission showed on Tuesday that the pro-Russian
Alliance of Patriots had won 5.01 percent of the vote, just
passing the 5 percent threshold needed to get into parliament.
Its presence in the 150-seat parliament will be small, but
some Georgians are upset that a pro-Russian party has got in
despite recent history and are disappointed that smaller
pro-Western parties failed to win any seats.
"I'm so disappointed that we won't have politicians from
these other (pro-Western) parties in parliament," said Tamta
Kirvalidze, a 26-year-old resident of Tbilisi, the capital.
The Alliance of Patriots favours greater integration with
Russia and opposes Georgia joining NATO. Its leaders also talk
up the Russian Orthodox Church's links to Georgia and warn that
closer integration with Europe could damage Georgian traditions.
By contrast, the ruling Georgian Dream party, which
comfortably won overall with 48.67 percent of the vote, favours
integration with the West as well as closer ties with Russia,
while the opposition United National Movement, which came second
with 27.11 percent, is strongly pro-Western.
A U.S. ally traditionally buffeted between Russia and the
West, Georgia hopes to join the European Union (EU) and NATO one
day even though that is something that Russia, its former
colonial master, strongly opposes.
Criss-crossed by strategically important oil and gas
pipelines, a fifth of Georgian territory remains under the
control of pro-Russian separatists following a short war with
Russia in 2008.
Analysts don't expect any immediate changes in Georgia's
foreign policy as a result of the election.
"I don't think that Georgia's pro-Western course will be
changed, though a lot will depend on the pace of our integration
with the West as well as on our desire to be more careful with
Russia," said Koba Turmanidze, director of the Tbilisi-based
Caucasus Research Resource Centre.
(Editing by Andrew Osborn)