Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was the highest-profile griever to attend the June 2 funeral of Abkhazia's de facto president, Sergei Bagapsh. And, like any proper mourner at a Caucasus funeral, Putin did not show up empty-handed. He brought with him a promise of 10 billion rubles (some $360 million) in 2011 to help develop Abkhazia, and probably to iron out some differences between Moscow and its Caucasus protectorate.
Truth to tell, back in 2004, when Bagapsh first ran for breakaway Abkhazia's presidency, the then energy company director had not been Putin's pick. In fact, Tbilisi sighed with relief when Bagapsh, who did not smile upon closer ties with Georgia, defeated the Russia-favored Raul Khajimba in the election. But with the region’s de facto presidency now up for grabs and growing wariness with Russia among the Abkhaz, Putin came to put his ducks in a row. The point he made to the Abkhaz boils down to a single message: whoever you elect next, there is not much you can achieve without Russian protection and Russian money.