Russia: Putin sworn in for third term

2012-05-07 14:00
Russian President Vladimir Putin and former President Dmitry Medvedev, right, speak to each other as an honour guard marches during an inauguration ceremony at the Cathedral Square in the Kremlin in Moscow. (Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP)

Russian President Vladimir Putin and former President Dmitry Medvedev, right, speak to each other as an honour guard marches during an inauguration ceremony at the Cathedral Square in the Kremlin in Moscow. (Alexander Zemlianichenko, AP)

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Moscow - Russian politician Vladimir Putin was sworn in for a third term as Russia's president on Monday, as the former KGB spy cemented his control over the world's largest country.

Putin took the oath of office under heavy security in a glittering Kremlin ceremony, with at least 3 000 senior government officials in attendance.

The head of Russia's Orthodox Church then blessed him and national security staff gave Putin launch codes for the country's nuclear strike force.

In a speech aired live on national television Putin called for national sacrifice saying: "We will have to resolve tasks of a new level, a new quality and scale. The coming years will be decisive for Russia's fate, for decades to come."

As the country's new commander-in-chief, Putin inspected the Presidential Guards Regiment after the swearing-in ceremony.

Elsewhere in Moscow, Russian police on Monday arrested 120 people protesting Putin's inauguration, in a second day of opposition demonstrations.

Military draft orders

Among the detained in a central district of the Russian capital were former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov and poet Lev Rubenshteyn. All were later released, a police statement said.

More than 100 of the participants in the Moscow protest were military-age and received orders to report to a Moscow army recruitment centre in coming days, Interfax reported, citing police.

The situation in Moscow's streets on Monday "in general is calm", a police spokesperson said.

The Monday arrests and military draft orders against opposition activists followed massed anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow on Sunday, which saw extended violence between protesters and police, and reportedly 436 arrests.

Between 50 000 and 70 000 Putin opponents participated in the Sunday street rallies, independent media reports said.

Fourth term?

Commenting on the recent wave of protests and arrests in the Russian capital, Gennady Zyuganov, head of the opposition Communist Party told Interfax: "Attempts to shut every one's mouth with a police baton are senseless and extremely dangerous."

Putin served two terms as Russia's president, from 2000-2008, before evacuating the office to allow his political protégé, Dmitry Medvedev, to hold the job for a single term from 2008-2012. Putin served as Prime Minister at the time.

One of Putin's first formal acts as President on Monday was to nominate Medvedev to be Russia's next Prime Minister.

Recent amendments to Russia's constitution changed the term of office from four to a current six years. Putin has said he would consider running for a fourth term in office if Russians supported it.

- SAPA

Read more on:    dmitry medvedev  |  vladimir putin  |  russia  |  russia protests
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