De facto president of Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia takes office

De facto Abkhaz President-elect Raul Khajimba waves an Abkhaz flag during the inauguration ceremony on Sep 25. Photo by Ria Novosti, 26 Sep 2014 - 12:21, Tbilisi,Georgia

The new de facto president of Abkhazia region has been sworn in to lead Georgia’s breakaway region.

A ceremony was held yesterday, September 25, that declared Raul Khajimba as the region’s president for the next five years.

Georgian authorities condemned the "illegal act” of the Abkhazia presidential elections and called on the international community to do the same.

Khajimba took the oath of office in the Great Hall of the Cabinet of Ministers in Sokhumi after he won the election in August. His predecessor Alexander Ankvab stepped down following massive street protests - a day after the local de-facto Parliament voted to hold early presidential elections in August.

In his inaugural speech in Sokhumi, Khajimba pledged to "deepen integration” with Russia and a new agreement solidifying the relationship between Abkhazia and Russia would be signed before the end of the year.

"Russia is a guarantor of Abkhazia’s security and independence. Of course our relations are not in a static mode,” he said.

"In today’s reality, multiple threats and challenges which are emerging in the region require new approaches in forming agenda of Russian-Abkhaz cooperation,” Khajimba said.

The de facto president believed the new agreement would create "more firm guarantees” for the sovereignty of Abkhazia. "The new agreement with Russia will elevate our defence system qualitatively to a new level and provide more opportunities for attracting investments,” Khajimba said.

The oath taking ceremony was attended by Vladislav Surkov, Putin’s aide in charge of overseeing Moscow’s relations with Georgia’s breakaway Abkhazia and Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) regions.

The leader of Tskhinvali Leonid Tibilov also visited Sokhumi on the day Khajimba was sworn in. The heads of North Ossetia Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria, Russia’s North Caucasus republic, were among the guests of who attended the inauguration ceremony.

Georgia’s breakaway regions Abkhazia and Tskhinvali are currently occupied by Russian forces. Only Russia and a handful of countries recognised the independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali while the majority of the world supported Georgia’s territorial integrity.

Meanwhile two of the countries that officially recognised Abkhazia's independence, Nicaragua and Venezuela, reportedly sent representatives to the September 25 swearing-in ceremony.