Leader of Georgian breakaway region resigns after protests

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The leader of the Georgian breakaway region of Abkhazia tendered his resignation late on Sunday following days of protests, the president’s office said.

Crowds of protesters broke into the president’s headquarters on Thursday and demanded the exit of local president Raul Khajimba, who led the region from 2014 and won a second term in September.

“The president is resigning the powers of head of state in the name of peace and stability in the country,” the president’s office said in a statement on its website.

Abkhazia broke away from Georgia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Most countries still consider it a part of Georgia, but Russia recognized its independence after winning a short war against Georgia in 2008. Russia has troops in Abkhazia.

Vladislav Surkov, an influential Kremlin official, traveled to the isolated region on Sunday and held talks with leaders of the opposition, the RIA news agency reported.

The local parliament in Abkhazia is expected to formally accept Khajimba’s resignation on Monday and appoint an interim head, the TASS news agency reported.

(This story was refiled to correct misspelling of “tendered” in first paragraph)

(Reporting by Tom Balmforth; Editing by Alex Richardson)