Abkhaz president Vladislav Ardzinba on April 30 appointed Sergey Bagapsh as prime minister and Sergey Shamba as foreign minister of the unrecognized republic. Bagapsh had hitherto served as Abkhazia’s permanent representative to Moscow, with the rank of deputy prime minister. Bagapsh and Shamba replace, respectively, Gennady Gagulia, who resigned last week as prime minister, and Konstantin Ozgan, who left the post of foreign minister to become first deputy prime minister. (Russian agencies, April 30, May 1)
Bagapsh is a native of Ochamchira district, which has been underrepresented in the Abkhaz leadership and has had frictions with the northern area where Ardzinba has his power base. Shamba formerly led the pro-Soviet movement Unity which spearheaded Abkhazia’s secession from Georgia; but he has more recently been marginalized. The impact of these changes on Abkhaz policies is not immediately clear, and Tbilisi officials have for the moment been reduced to hypotheses in trying to assess the significance of these appointments.
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