The inauguration ceremony for Vladimir Putin’s third term took place today (Monday), 7 May 2012 at Noon in the Grand Kremlin Palace.
We’ve come a long way from Boris Yeltsin’s first inauguration in July 1991. Absent in the Yeltsin years was much of the typical pomp and circumstance simply because Russia was broke. Mr. Yeltsin uttered an oath, a band played the anthem, and he was greeted by the Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexi II. Yeltsin even gave his own brief keynote address.
Inauguration for a president of the Russian Federation isn’t so simple, nor as sparse these days. Many of the current traditions harken back to the days when the Tsars were crowned and Tsar Putin has taken full advantage of those traditions and images with each inauguration.
The swearing in of Boris Yeltsin was done in July of 1991 and August 1996 but these days the inauguration is carried out on the anniversary of the inauguration of the previous president. Vladimir Putin was inaugurated on 7 May this year just as he was on 7 May 2000 and 2004 and Dmitry Medvedev in 2008. In the case of reelection to successive terms, the ceremony is conducted thirty days after the announcement of the official election results by the Russian Central Election Commission.
The ceremony is conducted inside the Kremlin Grand Palace which in prior generations was the Moscow residence of the royal family. Its five ceremonial reception halls, the Andreyevsky, Alexandrovsky, Vladimirsky, Georgievsky and Yekaterininsky, are named after Russian military orders.
Prior to the start of the event, President and Mrs. Medvedev arrived for the ceremony and for the last time, President Medvedev entered Kremlin Grand Palace as the head of state. Per tradition Mr. Medvedev was greeted by the Kremlin Royal Regiment.
Next, the procession carrying in-coming President Vladimir Putin arrived through the Kremlin’s 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 for official Kremlin ceremonies.
After his car escort entered the Kremlin territory through the Spasskaya Gate and drove to the side of the Kremlin where Cathedral Square and the Grand Palace Plaza are located, Mr. Putin exited his car and was greeted by the Commandant of the Kremlin Regiment who introduced himself by saying, “Comrade President of the Russian Federation, commandant of the Moscow Kremlin Regiment!”
Mr. Putin wished the commandant good health and approached the doors of the Kremlin Grand Palace to the accompaniment of the chime of bells and the blare of trumpets as he made his way up the grand staircase of the Grand Kremlin palace. Upon entrance, Mr. Putin proceeded through the St. George and St. Alexander Halls where he was ushered in by the Kremlin Regiment Guards.
The Russian Federation Flag, Presidential Standard, Russian Constitution, and the Symbol of Presidential Office were brought into the Grand Kremlin Palace’s St Andrew Hall by guards of the Kremlin Royal Regiment.
Official protocol places both flags on the stage, left and right of center, respectively. Members of the audience, just over 3,000 guests and officials were in attendance, stood for the royal procession of the symbols of the office and the entrance by the president-elect.
This edition of the Russian Constitution is bound in dark red leather with gold lettering and housed in the library of the President in the Kremlin.
The chain of office is a golden cross, ruby enameled with the coat of arms of Russia, attached to a gold chain of 17 links. On the reverse side of the cross is the engraved motto: “Benefit, honor, glory.” During the inauguration the chain was placed on a red pillow on the left side of podium.
President Putin will be president for six years instead of the previous four year terms due to a constitutional change while Mr. Medvedev held the office. Mr. Putin was prime minister during Medvedev’s presidency and had also briefly served in that post under President Boris Yeltsin.
In the Kremlin Grand Palace it is the Saint Andrew Hall which holds the royal throne and the Russian Federation flag and the presidential standard. It is the hall where officials of Parliament and the Constitutional Court formally observe the oath of office.
Before the ceremony of taking the oath of office, out-going president Dmitry Medvedev addressed the Russian people and those in attendance. Prominent figures included runner-up presidential candidate Mikhail Prokhorov, former Italian Prime Minister and Putin personal friend Silvio Berlusconi, and Patriarch Kirill the head of the Russian Orthodox Church.
(President Dmitry Medvedev) Citizens of Russia, friends,
The inauguration of a new president always marks a new stage in our country’s life and history. The President is the head of state, guarantor of the Constitution, of human rights and civil liberties, and he sets the main lines of our foreign and domestic policy.
Continuity in the country’s policy is essential for Russia to keep moving forward. It is vital that we continue the major transformations we have pursued over these last years in economic, social and political life. Only if we do this can we build a strong democratic country in which law and social justice rule, a country that guarantees its citizens’ security and gives its people every opportunity for self-realisation and for business, civil, and creative initiative.
I made these goals my priorities during my time as President. I worked as I promised in taking the oath of office: honestly and openly, in the interests of the people, doing everything I could to give them freedom and confidence in the future.
We achieved a lot, even during the difficult time of global crisis. We fulfilled all of our social obligations and went even further by engaging in economic modernization. Of course, we did not succeed in doing everything we hoped, and did not manage to complete everything we planned, but this work will continue, and of this I am certain.
We faced serious tests together. Russia’s security has been tested in the past, and we too had to prove its strength and resist aggression. We continued the fight against terrorism, which continues to threaten our country.
I think that one of our biggest and clearest achievements has been to get our people more broadly involved in political life. It is absolutely vital that the authorities become more open for dialogue and cooperation. The authorities cannot work effectively without feedback from the public, and without taking into account the initiatives that come from within society. I made these my guiding principles in my work. We all share the same aspirations after all, those of the common good, freedom and progress. We all share the same love for our children and for our homeland, for Russia.
As I end my term in office, I want to thank everyone who supported me over these years. I thank you for the immense trust you placed in me, for your help and support, and for being together with me over this time.
I want to thank all of Russia’s people. Thank you all! We still have much work before us.
To head our country and work for our people is a huge responsibility and a great honour. I am pleased that Vladimir Putin is taking this office today. He is an experienced and strong leader who has the support of the majority of our people. I wish him success in his office and in his work for our country and people!
The President of the Constitutional Court VALERY ZORKIN: In accordance with Article 82.1 of the Russian Federation Constitution, to take presidential office the President-elect swears an oath set by the Constitution.
Mr Putin, I ask you to swear the oath.
The Russian President-elect placed his hand on a special copy of the Constitution and repeated the presidential oath.
(VLADIMIR PUTIN:) I swear that in exercising the powers of the President of the Russian Federation, I shall respect and protect human and civil rights and freedoms, observe and protect the Constitution of the Russian Federation, protect the sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the State, and faithfully serve the people.
After swearing the presidential oath of loyalty to the Russian people President Vladimir Putin was officially declared head of state by President of the Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin.
The Russian Constitution requires the oath to be spoken in the presence of the representatives of the legislative and executive powers, the judicial branch of power, the Russian government, the deputies of the two chambers of parliament (the Federation Council and the State Duma) and the officials of the president’s administration.
Immediately following the declaration from the head of the Constitutional Court the Presidential Standard (flag) was raised over the official presidential residence and Russia’s National Flag was hoisted over the symbolic presidential offices in the Kremlin Senate complex to the sounds of Russia’s National Anthem.
(VLADIMIR PUTIN:) Citizens of Russia, Friends,
As I take office as President of the Russian Federation, I am aware of my great responsibility before our country. Russia’s interests and the security and prosperity of our people have always been and always will be my utmost priority. I will do everything to justify the trust that millions of our citizens have placed in me. I see the whole sense and purpose of my life as being to serve our country and serve our people, whose support gives me the inspiration and help I need to resolve the greatest and most complex tasks.
We have traveled a great and difficult road together, believing in ourselves and our strength and ability. We have strengthened our country and returned our dignity as a great nation. The world has seen a Russia risen anew, and this is the result of our people’s hard work and our common effort, to which everyone has made their personal contribution. We have everything we need today to continue our development and progress: an effective and developing state, a solid economic and social foundation, and an active and responsible civil society. I think that much credit here is due to Dmitry Medvedev. His presidency ensured that our country could keep developing with continuity and stability, and gave new impetus to modernization in all spheres of life. He has big tasks and very responsible work ahead and I wish him success in this.
We are now entering a new stage in our national development that requires us to resolve tasks at a principally new level, tasks of a different quality and scale. These coming years will be crucial for shaping Russia’s future in the decades to come. We must all understand that the life of our future generations and our prospects as a country and nation depend on us today and on our real achievements in building a new economy and developing modern living standards, on our efforts to look after our people and support our families, on our determination in developing our vast expanses from the Baltic to the Pacific, and on our ability to become a leader and centre of gravity for the whole of Eurasia.
We will achieve our goals if we remain united and stand together, treasure our homeland, strengthen our country’s democracy, constitutional rights and freedoms, and expand our citizens’ participation in government and in setting our national agenda, so that everyone’s desires for a better life becomes part of the common effort for our country’s prosperity. We will achieve success for sure if we stand firmly upon the solid foundation of our multi-ethnic people’s cultural and spiritual traditions, our centuries of history, the values that have always been the moral backbone of our life, and if each of us lives according to their conscience, with love for and faith in their country, their families and loved ones, and care for their children’s happiness and their parents’ welfare.
We want to live and we will live in a democratic country in which everyone has the freedom and opportunity to apply their talents and labour, their energy. We want to live and we will live in a successful Russia that the world respects as a reliable, open, honest and predictable partner. I believe in the strength of our common goals and ideals, our determination to transform our country, our people’s united efforts, and our common desire for freedom, truth and justice. We are ready for the tests and accomplishments ahead. Russia has a great past and just as great a future. We will work with faith in our hearts and sincere and pure intention.
At the conclusion of Putin’s speech, the newly sworn-in president kissed his rarely seen wife Lyudmila and Medvedev’s wife Svetlana, who were seated next to each other in the front row with Patriarch Kirill.
Guests in attendance included members of the Russian Federation Government, State Duma deputies and members of the Federation Council, Constitutional Court judges, and representatives of other federal bodies of state power.
Members of Vladimir Putin’s presidential election campaign team and campaign headquarters, other candidates in the 2012 presidential election, heads of diplomatic missions, members of the clergy, academic and cultural figures, art workers and public figures also attended the event.
President Putin and Mr. Medvedev walked down the winding red carpet through the Grand Kremlin Palace, as Mr. Putin shook hands with guests until they reached the end of the red carpet at Cathedral Square outside where the elite Presidential Regiment military unit was assembled for a parade.
The regiment celebrated the 76thanniversary of its founding today.
Another tradition is the presidential stroll across the grounds of famous Cathedral Square after the new president is taken into the ancient Annunciation Cathedral for a blessing by the Russian Orthodox Patriarch.
As reported in the Moscow Times newspaper; before, during and after Putin’s inauguration ceremony, demonstrators in support of and opposed to his rule congregated on Nikitsky Bulvar and Tverskoi Bulvar just blocks from the Kremlin.