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Putin Sworn In for Fifth Term as President

Sergei Bobylev, RIA Novosti /

Vladimir Putin was sworn in as President of Russia for a fifth on Tuesday, setting the stage for another six years in power as he leads the country in its devastating war against neighboring Ukraine.

After Putin took the oath of office, led by Constitutional Court head Valery Zorkin, he was officially sworn in as president.

In a short speech after being sworn in, Putin repeated his previous calls for national unity amid the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which has cost thousands of lives and isolated Moscow from the West.

“We’re a united and great nation, and together we will overcome all obstacles, implement everything we’ve planned. Together we will win,” he said.

“I assure you that I will continue to place the interests and security of the people of Russia above all else,” the Russian leader added, recounting the text of the presidential oath. “This is what defined the meaning and essence of my work in previous years.”

The 71-year-old has been in power for more than two decades. In March, he secured another six-year term as president after winning an election marred by widespread reports of fraud and where no real opposition was given the chance to run.

While Putin was constitutionally mandated to step down in 2024, changes made to Russia’s Constitution in 2020 “reset” his presidential term limits, thus allowing him to stay in office until 2030.

Tuesday’s lavish ceremony, which started at noon local time, took place in the Grand Kremlin Palace, where thousands of guests — including Russian government officials, members of parliament, celebrities, and business figures — were in attendance. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin were among the most high-profile attendees. 

So, too, were some foreign guests seen at the ceremony, including Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

Russia said it had invited all foreign ambassadors in Moscow to the inauguration, but the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, as well as 20 EU member states, said they would not send any representatives to Tuesday’s inauguration, effectively boycotting the event. 

Russian servicemen who have fought on the front lines in Ukraine were also among those present at Putin’s swearing-in ceremony, and the president spoke to soldiers directly during his brief speech.

“I want to bow to our heroes, participants of the special military operation, all those who fight for our Fatherland,” Putin said, using the Kremlin’s preferred term for its full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

“We must do everything possible to ensure that people who have proved their loyalty to the Fatherland through action take leading positions in state administration,” he continued.

Shortly after Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony, Putin attended a prayer service led by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, who blessed the president.

“God himself has entrusted you with serving Russia,” the church leader told Putin during the service.

Patriarch Kirill also compared Putin to Alexander Nevsky, the medieval ruler of Novgorod, adding that he was praying for the president to remain in power “until the end of the century.”

Putin’s inauguration came two days ahead of nationwide Victory Day celebrations — when Russia marks the anniversary of the Soviet Union’s victory over Nazi Germany during WWII. He is expected to give another speech at a military parade in Red Square during those celebrations.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin signed an order on the resignation of his cabinet as mandated by Russia’s Constitution after the inauguration.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters previously that Putin will likely appoint his prime minister later on Tuesday, though most experts believe Mishustin will hold on to his post. The new head of government will propose a cabinet of ministers for the president’s approval.

Earlier on Tuesday, Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of Russia’s late opposition figure Alexei Navalny, said memories of Putin’s previous presidential term would be defined by the “senseless and bloody” Russian invasion of Ukraine.

“For me personally, Putin’s six years are the years when my husband Alexei Navalny — an honest and brave man, a true patriot — was persecuted, poisoned with chemical weapons, tried, tortured in prison for three years and then killed,” Navalnaya said in a video published just ahead of the inauguration ceremony.

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