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Abkhazia Swears In De Facto President


Aslan Bzhania holds a sword during his inauguration ceremony in Sukhumi on April 23.

Aslan Bzhania, the winner of an election for the de facto presidency in Georgia's breakaway Abkhazia region, has been sworn in for a five-year term.

At an inauguration ceremony in the regional capital, Sukhumi, on April 23, Bzhania pledged to work on closer cooperation with Russia.

Moscow recognized Abkhazia and Georgia's other breakaway region, South Ossetia, as independent states after Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in August 2008.

Only a handful of other countries, however, have followed the lead of the Kremlin, which has kept Russian forces in both regions since.

"With regard to our agreements, we will work more intensively with brotherly Russia on all aspects of bilateral, equal, and mutually beneficial cooperation," Bzhania said.

Bzhania won a March 22 runoff vote that Georgia's foreign minister called "illegal and fully contradicts international law."

The vote was the latest effort to sort out the Black Sea region's government, which has been in flux since a January Supreme Court ruling annulled the election of Raul Khajimba three months earlier.

The ruling sparked violent protests, but Khajimba ultimately stepped down.

Abkhazia declared independence from Georgia in 1992, a move which led to all-out war with Tbilisi.

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