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Sergei Uasyl-ipa Bagapsh (Abkhaz: ) (born March 4, 1949, Sukhumimarker) is the President of the partially recognized de facto independent Republic of Abkhaziamarker, which is recognized by most countries as de jure part of Georgiamarker. A former Prime Minister from 1997 to 1999, he was first elected as President in 2005. He is currently running for re-election in the 12 December 2009 presidential election.

Early life and career

Sergei Bagapsh was born March 4 1949 in Sukhumi. Throughout most of his life he has lived in Abkhazia. In his youth Bagapsh was a member of the Georgian basketball team. Bagapsh graduated from the Georgian State University of Subtropical Agriculture in Sukhumi. During his studies he worked first in a wine cooperative and later as a security guard for the state bank. In 1972 he fulfilled his military service as the head of a sovkhoz following which he became instructor with the Abkhazian regional committee of the Komsomol. In 1978 Bagapsh became responsible for information in the central committee of the Komsomol's Georgian branch and in 1980 first secretary of the Abkhazian regional committee. In 1982 Sergei Bagapsh became secretary general of the communist party in the Ochamchira district.After the fall of communism, Bagapsh became a businessman and the representative of the Abkhazian government in Moscowmarker.

Prime minister

Sergei Bagapsh was appointed Prime Minister of Abkhazia on April 29 of 1997.

The Georgian-Abkhazian tensions during Bagapsh's time in office came to a height in May, 1998, when the Tbilisi-based government-in-exile deployed forces along the Abkhaz-Georgian border. In the resulting conflict, which was colloquially named the "Six Day War", 30,000 Georgian refugees fled across the border to the town of Zugdidimarker. 1,695 Georgian houses were also burned down.

2004 presidential election

From 2000 until 2004, Sergei Bagapsh was the managing director of the Abkhazian state-owned power company Chernomorenergo. At the same time, he began to emerge as a likely opposition candidate in the lead-up to the 2004 presidential election. In early 2004, he became of three leaders of the newly founded opposition movement United Abkhazia. After on July 20, 2004, United Abkhazia joined forces with Amtsakhara, another important opposition force, the two named him as their joint candidate for the October presidential elections, beating out other hopefuls, such as former foreign minister Sergey Shamba. In the elections, Bagapsh and his main opponent, Raul Khadjimba, disputed the results. The Abkhaz Electoral Commission originally declared Khadjimba to be the winner, with Bagapsh a distant second, but the Supreme Court later found that Bagapsh had won with 50.3% of the vote. The court reversed its decision after Khadjimba's supporters stormed the court building. At one point, Bagapsh and his supporters threatened to hold their own inauguration on December 6, 2004. However, in early December, Bagapsh and Khadjimba reached an agreement to run together on a national unity ticket. New elections were held on January 12, 2005, with this ticket easily winning. Under the agreement, Bagapsh ran for president and Khadjimba ran for vice-president.

2009 Presidential election

Bagapsh first addressed the matter of his candidacy in the 12 December 2009 presidential election when during a press conference in Moscow on 18 April 2009 he announced that he would probably make use of his constitutional right to run for a second term. Bagapsh was nominated on 27 October by United Abkhazia, with Prime Minister Alexander Ankvab of Aitaira as his Vice Presidential candidate. On 18 November Bagapsh received the additional support of the Communist Party.

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