Police detain a protester during a protest rally against Vladimir Putin’s inauguration in St. Petersburg

Thousands protest Putin inauguration

Vladimir Putin took the oath of office in a brief but regal Kremlin ceremony on Monday, while on the streets outside thousands of helmeted riot police prevented hundreds of demonstrators from protesting his return to the presidency. Putin, 59, has ruled Russia since 2000, first as president and then during the past four years as prime minister. The new, now six-year term will keep him in power until 2018, with the option of running for a fourth term.

MOSCOW — Vladimir Putin took the oath of office in a brief but regal Kremlin ceremony on Monday, while on the streets outside thousands of helmeted riot police prevented hundreds of demonstrators from protesting his return to the presidency.

Putin, 59, has ruled Russia since 2000, first as president and then during the past four years as prime minister. The new, now six-year term will keep him in power until 2018, with the option of running for a fourth term.

“I consider serving the fatherland and our people to be the meaning of my whole life and my duty,” Putin said in addressing 3,000 guests in a Kremlin hall glittering with gold leaf.

Despite unprecedented security measures in the centre of Moscow, where streets were closed to traffic and passengers prevented from exiting subway stations, at least 1,000 opposition activists tried to protest along the route Putin’s motorcade took to the Kremlin. Police picked out anyone wearing the white ribbons that are the symbol of the anti-Putin protest movement.

The demonstrators, separated into several groups, were met by helmeted riot police. At least 120 were detained, including opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was grabbed while sitting at an outdoor cafe. In the evening, dozens of protesters gathered outside the presidential administration, and police detained them one by one, escorting them onto buses.

Putin’s inauguration came a day after an opposition protest drew more than 20,000 people, fewer than the mass demonstrations in the months that preceded his March election but still a sign that the anger over Putin’s heavy-handed return to the Kremlin has not faded.

Sunday’s protest turned violent when some demonstrators tried to march toward the Kremlin and riot police beat back the crowds with batons and detained more than 400 people. The use of force after the winter’s peaceful rallies indicates that Putin may take a harder line toward the protesters now that he is once again president.

More than 100 of those detained Sunday were men under the age of 27, and thus eligible for military conscription, and at least 70 of them were ordered to report to draft offices, the Interfax news agency reported, citing a military official.

After taking the oath of office with his right hand on a red-bound copy of Russia’s constitution, which had been carried into the hall by goose-stepping Kremlin guards, Putin stated his commitment to democracy.

“We want to live and we will live in a democratic country where everyone has the freedom and opportunity to apply their talent and labour, their energy. We want to live and we will live in a successful Russia, which is respected in the world as a reliable, open, honest and predictable partner.”

During his time in office, Putin has overseen dramatic economic growth and restored a sense of national pride after the instability and humiliations that followed the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. He also has retreated from the democratic achievements of the 1990s and imposed a political system that has stifled dissent.

Communist Party leader Gennady Zyuganov, who leads the largest opposition faction in parliament, warned that the government is radicalizing the protesters by refusing to take them seriously.

“The government must understand that the split in society is getting wider, and the anger over unfair elections and the lack of normal dialogue is growing. In this situation, radicalism is inevitable,” Zyuganov said. “Any attempts to shut people’s mouths with the help of a police baton are senseless and extremely dangerous.”

Putin has dismissed the Moscow protesters as ungrateful, pampered urbanites and agents of the West.

Dmitry Medvedev, who served as Russia’s president for the past four years as Putin’s junior partner, wrapped up his term with a short speech at the inauguration ceremony.

“I worked as I promised in taking the oath of office: openly and honestly in the interests of the people, doing everything I could so that they would be free and would look toward the future with confidence,” Medvedev said.

Putin, as promised, began his new presidential term by formally nominating Medvedev as his prime minister. The parliament, where the Kremlin party holds a majority, was to vote on his nomination on Tuesday.

Putin’s wife, Lyudmila, who has rarely been seen in public in recent years, attended the inauguration ceremony. She was seated between Medvedev’s wife and the widow of Boris Yeltsin, who chose Putin as his successor in 1999.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev also was in the audience, along with two former European leaders who have developed personal friendships with Putin: Silvio Berlusconi of Italy and Gerhard Schroeder of Germany.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Hub on Ross has announced it has permanently closed. (Photo courtesy The Hub on Ross Facebook page)
The Hub on Ross in Red Deer to permanently close

The Hub on Ross in Red Deer permanently closed on Wednesday. “The… Continue reading

There were 410 COVID-19 cases recorded in Alberta Wednesday. (File photo)
Alberta records 410 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday

Central zone dropped to 160 active cases

Shaun Isaac, owner of Woodchucker Firewood in Trochu, is awaiting a new shipment during a firewood shortage in the province. All of the wood he has left is being saved for long-time customers who need it to heat their homes. (Contributed photo).
Firewood shortage in central Alberta caused by rising demand, gaps in supply

‘I’ve said “No” to more people than ever’: firewood seller

The Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House reopened earlier this month, after closing in March due to the pandemic. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House reopens

The Red Deer Senior Citizens Downtown House was closed for months due… Continue reading

Guy Pelletier, vice-president of the Red Deer region for Melcor Developments. (Contributed photo).
Melcor has to redesign new neighbourhood after Molly Banister decision

City council disagreed with administration’s recommendation to scrap road plans

Alice Kolisnyk, deputy director of the Red Deer Food Bank, says the agency expects an increase in demand as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. Every new subscription to the Red Deer Advocate includes a $50 donation to the food bank. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Support the food bank with a subscription to the Red Deer Advocate

The community’s most vulnerable members are always in need of a hand,… Continue reading

Sergio Santos, right, of the Philadelphia Union, loses the race to the ball against goalie Quentin Westberg of Toronto FC during the first half of an MLS match Saturday, Oct. 24, 2020, in Chester, Pa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Charles Fox/The Philadelphia Inquirer via AP
Frustrated coach Greg Vanney defends banged-up Toronto FC after second straight loss

Frustrated coach Greg Vanney defends banged-up Toronto FC after second straight loss

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Robert and third baseman Justin Turner pose for a group picture after defeating the Tampa Bay Rays 3-1 to win the baseball World Series in Game 6 Tuesday, Oct. 27, 2020, in Arlington, Texas. Sporting venues and games certainly have super-spreader potential but that risk can be minimized with buy-in from all involved, experts said Wednesday. The subject moved into the spotlight Wednesday after L.A. Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner tested positive for COVID-19 at the World Series. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Eric Gay
Sports’ buy-in needed to prevent super-spreader potential: experts

Sports’ buy-in needed to prevent super-spreader potential: experts

In this image released by Fox, from left, Doug E. Doug, Malik Yoba, Rawle D. Lewis, John Candy and Leon are shown in a scene from the film "Cool Runnings." THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, Fox
Not cool: Jamaican bobsledder wants thief to return stolen shell to Calgary bar

An original member of the Jamaican bobsled team featured in the 1993… Continue reading

Speedskater Ivanie Blondin trains at the Olympic Oval in Calgary on October 17, 2016. Canada's long-track speedskating team is chasing ice to Fort St. John, B.C. The country's top speedskaters have been without ice in Calgary's Olympic Oval since early September because of a mechanical failure there. World champions Ivanie Blondin, Graeme Fish and Ted-Jan Bloemen are among 50 people including coaches and support staff travelling to northern B.C. for a 15-day training camp starting Nov. 1. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Canadian long-track speedskating team finds temporary home in B.C.

Canadian long-track speedskating team finds temporary home in B.C.

The "Great One," Wayne Gretzky, left, holds up a banner bearing his number with some help from his friend Joey Moss during a jersey retirement ceremony at Skyreach Centre in Edmonton on Firday, October 1, 1999. Former Oilers captain Kelly Buchberger remembers how a familiar friend would come "barrelling" into the visitors' dressing room when he returned to Edmonton. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Wayne Gretzky reflects on the life, legacy of Joey Moss: ‘He gave parents hope’

Wayne Gretzky reflects on the life, legacy of Joey Moss: ‘He gave parents hope’

Players' sticks are shown during a World Championships Group A hockey game between Russia and Denmark, in Moscow, Russia, on Thursday, May 12, 2016. A $30-million settlement of three class actions over the failure to pay junior hockey players the minimum wage has been thrown into jeopardy after three judges refused to sign off on the agreement. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ivan Sekretarev
Junior hockey employment lawsuit on thin ice; judges refuse to OK $30-million deal

Junior hockey employment lawsuit on thin ice; judges refuse to OK $30-million deal

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney answers questions at a news conference in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020. Labour union leaders are urging Albertans to sign up to protest Premier Jason Kenney’s government through rallies and demonstrations and, if necessary, provincewide general strikes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Todd Korol
Alberta union leaders launch protest website against Kenney government

Alberta union leaders launch protest website against Kenney government

Most Read