MOSCOW, May 29 (RIA Novosti) – Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has expressed his condolences over the death of Abkhaz leader Sergei Bagapsh, the Kremlin press office said on Sunday.
“Bagapsh was an advocate of friendship and alliance with Russia and arduously worked on deepening close bilateral ties between our countries,” Medvedev said in a message addressed to Abkhaz Vice-President Alexander Ankvaba.
Bagapsh, 62, has died after undergoing a surgery on his right lung at a Moscow clinic.
Bagapsh also personally contributed to “strengthening the independence, social and economic development of the republic, its formation as an independent subject of international relations,” the message said.
An official spokesman for the Abkhaz president has said that Bagapsh died of cancer.
“Doctors have admitted that malignant tumors affected his lung and spread to other organs. Doctors now acknowledge that this was cancer,” Kristian Bzhania said.
Bagapsh will be buried in the village of Dzhgerda in the Ochamchira district where his parents were buried. The mourning ceremony will be held in Moscow on Monday, after which his body will be flown to Abkhazia. The funeral date will be specified, a source in the Abkhaz presidential administration said.
Abkhazia and another Georgian breakaway republic, South Ossetia, were recognized by Russia as independent states in 2008 following a five-day war, which started when Georgia attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control.
Only Nicaragua, Venezuela and the tiny Pacific island of Nauru have followed Russia’s suit. Georgia considers the two regions part of its sovereign territory.