Putin sworn in for perhaps final stint as Russian president

May 7 (UPI) — Vladimir Putin began another six-year term as Russia’s president Monday, at a swearing in ceremony at Moscow’s Grand Kremlin Palace.

The inauguration marked Putin’s second six-year stretch as president and fourth overall. His first two terms lasted four years each.

Putin, who’s served as both president and prime minister, said Monday Russia has risen “like
a Phoenix,” despite numerous setbacks.

“We have revived pride in our fatherland,” he said. “As head of state, I will do all I can to multiply the strength and prosperity of Russia.

“We need breakthroughs in all areas of life. I’m deeply convinced that such a leap forward can only be secured with a free society that accepts all that is new and advanced.”

Some 5,000 guests attended the swearing-in ceremony in the Kremlin Palace’s ornately-decorated Andreyevsky Hall.

This will be Putin’s last term as Moscow’s president, for at least a while. He is barred from serving more than two consecutive terms under the Russian Constitution.

After winning the presidential race in March, with almost 77 percent of the vote, Putin dismissed the possibility of returning in 2030, which would be his earliest return date.

“What you are saying is a little bit ridiculous,” Putin told reporters. “Let’s count … I am supposed to sit here until I am 100 years old? No!”

Putin’s inauguration followed protests Saturday and the arrests of more than 1,600 people — including opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Protesters chanted “shame” and “Putin is a thief” while marching through the capital city, carrying placards and Russian flags. Pro-Putin supporters also turned out, leading to scuffles between the two groups.

By the end of Putin’s current term, he will have been in power for nearly a quarter of a century. His reign would still fall short of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin’s 31 years in power, and the reigns of some Russian tsars, like Alexander II and Nicholas I.

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