Sergei Bagapsh new president of the unrecognised Republic of Abkhazia

Tue 8 Mar 2005

Sergei Bagapsh was formally sworn in as president of the unrecognised Republic of Abkhazia on 12 February at a ceremony in Sukhum attended by the heads of several North Caucasus republics, Krasnodar Krai Governor Aleksandr Tkachev, and senior officials from the similarly unrecognised republics of South Ossetia and Nagorno-Karabakh. Bagapsh was elected with over 90 percent of the vote in a repeat ballot on 12 January after the outcome of the 3 October 2004 presidential election was annulled

In his inauguration address, Bagapsh reaffirmed his commitment to closer integration with Russia and pledged to bring the unrecognised republic's legislation into line with that of the Russian Federation in order to facilitate the increased Russian investment that he hopes for. Bagapsh said Abkhazia has traditionally regarded Russia as its "defender" and may call on Russia to assume that role again in the event of new aggression on the part of Georgia.