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Russia Says Ready to Cooperate With New Abkhaz Leadership

RIA Novosti

17:26 02/06/2014

MOSCOW, June 2 (RIA Novosti) – Moscow is ready to work with the future president and government of Abkhazia to develop and strengthen bilateral ties, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement Monday.

"The people of Abkhazia will have their say during the early presidential election in August. Russia will respect this expression of will. We will be ready to continue large-scale work together with the new leadership of the republic to develop and strengthen the Russian-Abkhazian ties, which were successful in recent years," the ministry said.

Moscow has been following "with preoccupation and concern" the escalation of situation in Abkhazia, where "processes of internal political struggle transcended beyond the legal bounds" after May 27 rally, the statement added.

The ministry also praised Alexander Ankvab, who resigned from his presidential post Sunday, for his role in "preventing the violent development events, which, undoubtedly, would have led to most tragic consequences."

On May 27, an estimated thousands-strong opposition rally was held in the center of Abkhazia's capital Sukhum. The activists were demanding the resignation of President Aleksandr Ankvab and the government. The protesters then took over the Presidential Executive Office, Government headquarters and the main television broadcasting buildings.

Later on May 29 Abkhazia's parliament passed a non-confidence vote to the country's Prime Minister Leonid Lakerbaia. It has also repeated the opposition's calls for Ankvab to resign.

In two days, the parliament elected its spokesperson Valery Bganba as an interim president and scheduled early presidential election on August 24.

On Sunday, Alexander Ankvab declared his resignation. Bganba said Monday that Leonid Lakerbaia had also resigned.

Abkhazia broke away from Georgia following an ethnically tinged war in 1992-1993, just after the collapse of the Soviet Union. More than a decade later, in 2008, Russia formally recognized the province as an independent state after a brief war with Tbilisi over another disputed Georgian region, South Ossetia. Many Abkhaz citizens have Russian passports.

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