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Bagapsh Says Abkhaz-Russian Relations A Priority --> 13 January 2005 -- Sergei Bagapsh has said after winning a presidential election in the separatist Abkhazia region of Georgia that relations with Russia are a priority.

"With regard to Russia, we will strengthen our ties and deepen the integration between our two countries. We will adopt laws identical to those that already exist in Russia. We will unify our legislations so that investments, the circulation of people and goods, all those things are simplified," Bagapsh said.

Bagapsh made the statement as Abkhazia's election commission said -- according to unofficial results -- that he won 90 percent of the vote in yesterday's repeat poll. Official results are expected to be announced tomorrow.

Bagapsh also won the most votes in the first election in October 2004 but the Russian-backed candidate who finished second, Raul Khadjimba, disputed the results and refused to concede defeat.

Russian officials brokered a power-sharing agreement allowing Khadjimba to run as vice president under Bagapsh.

Georgia's government has vowed to reassert its authority over Abkhazia, and has accused Russia of interfering in the region.



Bagapsh Set For Landslide Victory In Abkhaz Presidential Poll