Inauguration of the Russian President

(The) Инаугурация президента России (inauguration of the President of Russia) officially marks the start of the term (six years) of the President of Russia.

This will be a historic event no matter how you side on the results of the elections in December and March. Four years ago Law Professor turned President Dmitry Medvedev introduced legislation in the Duma to extend the term of sitting presidents from four to six years, exempting his present term. That has become a major factor in the re-election of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his return to the presidency.

Medvedev & Putin, National Unity Day, Nizhny Novgorod.

Recently Mr. Putin has said that he will back an amendment to the Constitution to limit the number of terms an individual can serve to two terms, however he declared that it would unfair to hold him to such a standard since he had been elected while there were no such limits.

In mid August Medvedev and Putin met for a fishing trip in Southern Russia. It was a turning point as Medvedev had been assembling an impressive number of backers and a top notch campaign team in preparation of making a run for a second term. There was only one obstacle: Vladimir Putin had been booed at a recent appearance at a boxing match and his public poll numbers were beginning to slightly dip while Medvedev was gaining.

On a sunny August afternoon as the two men fished on the Volga River, former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev was back in Moscow speaking at a lunch meeting of influential Russian policy makers and business leaders. He made his case for backing Medvedev and the mood in Moscow was high.

Out on the river however things weren’t going so well for Medvedev however and as their agreement had been to make a joint decision in the final months, Medvedev’s dream for continued reforms and a second term were sunk.

After the Duma elections in December a large but unorganized opposition began to challenge Mr. Putin and his United Russia ruling party. Mr. Putin began to publicly insult the opposition, joking that the white ribbons worn on their clothing looked like condoms. He also suggested that the opposition was being funded by the US State Department.

Public groups and media networks scheduled multiple debates during the election but Mr. Putin sent surrogates instead, insisting that his duties as Prime Minister made it impossible for him to participate in debates with other candidates. The result was won in the first round amid challenges of election fraud.

Flashback to a prior inauguration:
The FSB (KGB) security services wanted to return to power. I am pleased to announce that we’ve succeeded. (Vladimir Putin, 1999, upon taking over the office from resigning president Boris Yeltsin.)

The inauguration is carried out on the anniversary of the inauguration of the previous president. In just a few days Vladimir Putin will be inaugurated on 7 May 2012 just as he was on 7 May 2000 and 2004. In the case of reelection, the ceremony is conducted thirty days after the announcement of the official election results by the Russian Central Election Commission.

Prior to the start of the event, the President-elect’s procession arrives at the Grand Kremlin Palace through the Spasskaya Tower (Saviour Tower) Gate. Normally high officials enter the Kremlin via the Borovitskaya Tower gate but in ancient times the Spasskaya was the main entrance and it remains the “main” Kremlin gate although rarely used in modern times.

As Mr. Putin exits his car the Commandant of the Kremlin Regiment will greet him by saying, “Comrade President of the Russian Federation, commandant of the Moscow Kremlin Regiment!” Mr. Putin will wish him good health and proceed to the doors of the Kremlin Grand Palace.

Once the Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Russia has determined that the appropriate officials are in attendance the ceremony begins with a declaration from the Chairman of the Central Elections Commission: “Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovirch, esteemed guests, esteemed citizens of the Russian Federation!

“On this grand occasion, allow me, on behalf of the Central Elections Commission, to declare that on March 26, 2000, in strict accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal law on presidential elections in the Russian Federation, an early election of the President of our country took place with a sufficient voter turnout and was deemed valid. A total of (number of voters) of the registered number of (eligible voters) voted in the election. Of those, (total) voted for candidate Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.

“On the basis of this showing of the will of the citizens of the Russian Federation and in accordance with the law, the Central Elections Commission has declared the presidential election valid. The commission has resolved to declare Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin the President of the Russian Federation.

On cue the presidential regiment orchestra begins to play “Festival Coronation March” by Tchaikovsky and the ceremony has officially begun. When entering the Kremlin Grand Palace the President-elect passes through St.  St. George making his way to the Saint Andrew Hall which holds the royal throne and the flags of the Russian Standard of the President and the Emblem of the Russian president. The ceremony is held in Saint Andrew hall.

Meanwhile the Chairman of the Constitutional Court and the Chairmen of both chambers of parliament wait in St Andrew Hall while the President-elect proceeds past gathered delegates and international guests as he makes his way through the palace halls. When he enters the St Andrew Hall the Chairman of the Constitutional Court places the presidential copy of the Federation Constitution and the President’s Chain of Office on the rostrum. The Chairman of the Constitutional Court of Russia then asks President-elect take the oath.

The president-elect places his right hand on the Constitution of the Russian Federation and recites the presidential oath. “I vow, in performing my duties as President of the Russian Federation, to respect and protect human and civil rights and liberties, to observe and protect the Constitution, to protect the sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the state, and to serve the people faithfully.”

The Chairman of the Constitutional Court will declare: “In accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has entered the office of President of the Russian Federation.”

The Chairman of the Constitutional Court will present the President the chain of office and proclaims the inauguration of a new President. Afterward the Russian national anthem is played and the standard of the head of state is raised at the dome of the presidential residence and the Russian flag raised over the Senate dome.

After the ceremony inside, the President will walk down the red carpeted steps outside the Kremlin Palace where a 30 gun salute will be fired. He will then stand to review a parade by the Kremlin Regiment.

Afterward Mr. Putin will be briefly addressed by the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church and be led into the ancient Annunciation Cathedral located near the Palace. Inside the Patriarch will pray for the President and the country and present Mr. Putin with an icon from the Kremlin Cathedrals collection. Mr. Putin will kiss the icon, make the sign of the cross and then pray for guidance and wisdom to lead the country. Mr. Putin will then present the Patriarch with an icon and ask the Church to pray for himself and for the country.

Before the many Balls and Gala celebrations begin, the Commandant of the Kremlin Regiment will lead the president in a brief tour of the Kremlin territory. Somehow we think that Mr. Putin is already very familiar with the area.

For a presentation on the events surrounding the return to the presidency, a group of Russian journalists have produced this documentary: