Putin Starts New Term After Protests, Amid Tension With West

Putin Starts New Term After Protests, Amid Tension With West

Moscow: Vladimir Putin has been sworn in to a new six-year term as Russian president, vowing to “serve the people” and improve their lives while protecting what he called a country of “great victories and feats.”
Putin took the oath of office in a midday ceremony in an ornate Kremlin hall on May 7, with his right hand on a red-bound copy of the Russian Constitution.
Putin, 65, has president or prime minister since 1999 and just finished the term that he began in 2012 after a four-year stint as prime minister.
In remarks after taking the oath, Putin called for a “breakthrough” that would bolster the Russian economy and improve living standards.
“As head of state, I will do everything in my power to increase the might, prosperity, and glory of Russia,” Putin said, calling it a country of “great victories and feats” that has repeatedly overcome hardships and emerged stronger over the centuries.
Focusing mainly on domestic issues, Putin urged Russians to unite to face down “new challenges.” He said Russia will continue to strengthen its military capability.
After the address, he descended from the podium and greeted members of the audience, including Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder.
He then reviewed an honor guard and spoke to young people lined up in a Kremlin square, taking photographs with a few.
Putin takes the oath of office on a copy of the Russian Constitution.
Putin takes the oath of office on a copy of the Russian Constitution.
Putin was reelected by a landslide on March 18, in a vote that has called a demonstration of public trust but critics say was marred by fraud and what international observers said was the lack of a genuine choice.
The inauguration comes two days after police detained some 1,600 people, including opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, at protests in dozens of cities where demonstrators came out to voice dismay at Putin’s long rule and the prospect of six more years.
The approach to the ceremony was less elaborate than in 2012, when opponents said his motorcade rode down deserted central streets while protesters were kept away underscored a gulf between Putin and the people.
This time state TV showed Putin, in a dark suit, walking out of his office in one Kremlin building and riding in a limousine to the Grand Kremlin Palace nearby for the ceremony.
Inside, large crowds of guests lined his path along a red carpet to the podium, and the event appeared carefully designed to portray Putin as a hardworking man of the people rather than a haughty tsar.
Putin will be barred from seeking reelection in 2024 because the constitution limits presidents to two consecutive terms.
Putin (center) is sworn as Russian president during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 7.
(center) is sworn as Russian president during a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 7.
The crackdown set a stark tone for Putin’s new term, which begins as Moscow remains locked in a geopolitical standoff with the West over a range of issues, including Russia’s 2014 seizure of Crimea, backing of separatists in eastern Ukraine, alleged meddling in U.S. elections, and support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.