Vladimir Putin has defied his critics and stepped back into the role of Russian president
after four years as prime minister. Putin was sworn in at the Kremlin for a third term on Monday, after two earlier tenures as head of state from 2000 to 2008.
Putin told the 2,000 invited guests gathered in St Andrew Hall that as president he would assume all responsibilities attached to Russia and its interests. He said “the safety and wellbeing of Russian citizens remains my priority”.
The 59-year-old pledged to unite Russia and strengthen democracy, constitutional rights and freedoms.
Political analysts say Putin has his work cut out; an opposition movement has been strengthened in recent months by what many Russians see as the concentration of power in one man’s hands.
More than 20,000 people joined a protest on Sunday ahead of Putin’s inauguration. Activists accused officials of voter fraud during both the presidential vote in March, where Putin won 63 percent of the vote, and also during parliamentary elections last December.
Around 400 people were arrested, including several prominent opposition activists, during clashes with police.
Putin, if he completes his six-year term, will become the longest serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.