During the weekend, large demonstrations took place in Russia, called by the opponent Alexei Navalny, in which the police arrested hundreds of people.
With pomp and pageantry worthy of an imperial ceremony, Vladimir Putin today took possession of his fourth term as president of Russia after 18 years in power that has not diminished his popularity in the country and in full tension with the West.
“Russia for the people, that should be the center of our policy,” Putin said in his brief speech to the more than 6,000 guests in the stunning St. Andrew’s Hall of the Kremlin Grand Palace after being sworn in.
Perhaps to support his ability to work, quite theatrically, the transmission of the ceremony began with Putin sitting in shirtsleeves in his office, where a phone call tells him that it was time for investiture, before putting on his jacket and walking steadily through the long corridors of the Kremlin for several minutes.
Then, in a Russian-made limousine that was being premiered just for the occasion, he made the short journey between the Kremlin cathedrals to the ceremony room, which began at 12 o’clock after a ringing of bells.
” I consider it my duty and sense of my life doing everything for Russia, for its present and future of peace and progress, for taking care of our great people and their development, well – being in every Russian family , “ said Putin in his speech after having sworn his position on the Magna Carta.
More than 6,000 guests, including outgoing government ministers, deputies, and senators, members of the diplomatic corps, civil, ecclesiastical and military authorities, attended the ceremony.
Among them, the Prime Minister, Dmitry Medvedev , who after submitting his resignation with the entire Executive as the Constitution marks, was again proposed by Putin to head the Government and whose candidacy will be approved tomorrow, no doubt, by the Duma (lower house of Parliament),controlled by the ruling party United Russia.
In this way, the tandem that has run the country for the last decade will be maintained for another six years, from the period 2008-2012 in which Medvedev held the position of president and Putin as head of government, before exchanging roles.
Putin, who was an official of the KGB before entering politics, received on March 18 the highest popular support since his arrival in power, in a presidential election in which he obtained 76.69% of the vote.
A historic victory in which international observers did not report major irregularities, but the absence of real competition, since the extraparliamentary opposition, represented by lawyer and blogger Alexei Navalny, could not attend.
Precisely, the inauguration ceremony was preceded this weekend by large demonstrations called by Navalny in which the police were thoroughly employed and arrested hundreds of people, mostly young supporters of the opposition.
But today, the new president described his electoral victory as “a huge political capital and solid moral support,” for which he thanked the Russian citizens for their unity and confidence that “much can be changed for the better”.
“Thank you for the level of sincere support that you, citizens of Russia, gave me in the presidential elections,” he added.
A support that, he assured, has served these years to “defend our positions in the international arena,” to “defend our interests” and recover “pride for the country, for our traditional values.”
That recovery of Russia as a power in the international arena led by the head of the Kremlin has been at the root of the tensions in Russia with the West that have marked the last years of Putin’s term.
According to a survey published today by the Levada Center, 47% of Russians believe that Putin has managed to restore the country’s status as a great power.
The war in Ukraine after the overthrow of the pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych and the establishment of a pro-European government in Kiev and the annexation of the Crimean peninsula led to the imposition of sanctions against Moscow.
And the relations became even tenser with the decisive Russian intervention in Syria that has allowed its ally Bashar al-Assad to remain in power and with accusations of Russian interference in various electoral and contentious processes in countries of Europe and the United States.
Now, unless the constitution is reformed, which prohibits chaining more than two consecutive terms, this term of six years until 2024 will be the last for Putin, 65, who shortly before the elections ruled out the possibility of perpetuating himself in power.
“They must be joking, what should I do? Stay here until I’m a hundred years old, nothing like that,” he told reporters.
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