The unexpected May 29 death of Sergei Bagapsh, the de facto leader of the breakaway region of Abkhazia, is certain to shake up Abkhaz politics, but some Abkhaz observers say that the underlying question is whether or not it will lead to instability in the territory.
Sixty-two-year-old Bagapsh, hailed by many Abkhaz as a can-do technocrat who presided over a period of relative calm in the territory’s topsy-turvy fortunes, succumbed to complications that ended in heart failure following surgery on his right lung in a Moscow clinic, Abkhaz and Russian news agencies reported. A spokesperson for the de facto Abkhaz president told the Russian state-run news agency RIA Novosti on May 30 that Bagapsh died from cancer.
Bagapsh will be buried on June 2, after three days of official mourning, in his family's native village of Dzhgyarda, near Ochamchira, a Black Sea coastal town not far from the administrative border with Georgian-controlled territory.
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Paul Rimple is a freelance reporter based in Tbilisi.