12 October 2004 -- Russia's foreign minister says the winner of a disputed presidential race in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region -- where a Kremlin-favored candidate was declared the loser -- must work to settle Abkhazia's conflict with the central government.
Sergei Lavrov made the comment today while on a visit to Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek.
"I am convinced that whoever comes to power in Abkhazia should continue the process of settling [the conflict] on the basis of existing agreements and within the framework of the existing mechanisms. There is no doubt that Georgia should also meet its obligations and do its part of the job," Lavrov said.
The 3 October election was the first openly contested presidential vote in Abkhazia, which has run its own affairs and been closely tied to Russia since driving out Georgian government troops in 1993.
Its independence is not internationally recognized, and Georgian officials called the election illegal.
Yesterday, Abkhaz officials declared opposition candidate Sergei Bagapsh the winner. His main opponent, Moscow-backed Raul Khadjimba, alleged widespread violations and called the declaration illegal, saying he would challenge it in the Supreme Court.
(AP)For the latest news on the elections in Abkhazia, see RFE/RL's webpage on Abkhazia and Georgia.