SERGEI BAGAPSH PREPARES TO BECOME ABKHAZIA PRESIDENT

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SUKHUMI, December 5 (RIA Novosti) - Sergei Bagapsh is getting ready to assume responsibilities as President of Abkhazia (self-proclaimed republic on the territory of Georgia).

"The inauguration ceremony will be held according to schedule on December 6," told RIA Novosti Sergei Bagapsh who considers himself a legitimate winner of the presidential elections.

The beginning of the official ceremony is set for 11 am, Moscow time. According to head of Sergei Bagapsh election headquarters Sokrat Dzhindzholia, "in accordance with the law, the inauguration ceremony will be attended by parliamentarians, officials of the Supreme Court, CEC and the government."

He said that no official invitations to participate in the ceremony had been sent.

"We did not invite anybody. Everyone knows about it and if they decide to come, they will come," Sergei Bagapsh said.

The security during the ceremony will be ensured by the units of the Abkhazian Interior Ministry. Operatives have already received the plan of events, Mr. Dzhindzholia announced.

Right after the ceremony, the new president will immediately assume his responsibilities. According to Mr. Dzhindzholia, it is possible that the presidential office will be occupied.

"If representatives of the incumbent president refuse to vacate the office, we will not storm it. There are plenty of offices around," the head of Bagapsh election headquarters emphasized.

He also mentioned that Bagapsh representatives are negotiating the transfer of the Presidential Seal and Banner to Sergei Bagapsh.

Yesterday, during the briefing in the Abkhazian capital, Sukhumi, Russian Deputy Prosecutor General Vladimir Kolesnikov suggested adopting a new law on elections in Abkhazia and conduct the repeat vote in January 2005, but before that inform Russia about elimination of obstacles to normal transit between Russia and Abkhazia.

"Such report must be signed by the President of Abkhazia, the head of Abhazian Parliament, the Abkhazian Prime Minister, members of the Supreme Court and all candidates who participated in the elections," Mr. Kolesnikov said.

Mr. Kolesnikov spoke on his own behalf. Answering the question about the status of his initiative, Mr. Kolesnikov, who is a native of Abkhazia, stated, "I speak as the son of my people."

Mr. Kolesnikov did not disclose his official post during the press conference and always introduced himself as Vladimir Ilyich." Mr. Kolesnikov arrived in Sukhumi with a group of legal experts.

Analyzing the results of October 3 elections, Mr. Kolesnikov presented the following data: 43,336 people voted for Sergei Bagapsh; 30,815 - for Raul Khadzhimba; 5,593 - for Sergei Shamba; 2,277 - for Anry Dzhargenia; and 806 - for Stanislav Lakoba. The number of invalid ballots reached 2,404. 1,230 people voted against all candidates.

"The overall number of voters who participated in the elections was 86,861 people, while the number presented by the Central Election Committee of Abkhazia constituted 86,565 people," Mr. Kolesnikov mentioned. As a result, he stated, Mr. Bagapsh received 49.89% of the votes.

"Therefore, Mr. Bagapsh did not receive more than a half of the votes and cannot be considered the newly elected president of Abkhazia," Mr. Kolesnikov emphasized.

In his opinion, the inauguration ceremony set for December 6 is illegitimate.

"The preparation for inauguration will be considered as the violation of the law and the organizers will assume total responsibility for their illegal actions," Mr. Kolesnikov stressed.

Incumbent Abkhazian President Vladislav Ardzinba stated earlier that he considered the upcoming inauguration illegitimate and that he had no intention to transfer the authority to Sergei Bagapsh.

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