Vladimir Putin was sworn in this morning as president of Russia. It is the third time he has assumed the office.
He was inaugurated at a "glittering" ceremony at the Kremlin State Palace in Moscow, RIA Novosti news agency reported, amid tight security on the capital's streets.
Some 2,000 guests, including former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev and Italy's ex-prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, were present for a ceremony estimated to have cost 20 million rubles ($664,000), the BBC said.
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Outside, according to Reuters, police detained dozens of people, including some who began shouting "Russia without Putin" near the Kremlin, and others who were simply wearing the white ribbon associated with the anti-Putin protest movement.
According to the news wire, yesterday more than 400 people were detained at a rally in Moscow to protest Putin's return to the presidency, including three opposition leaders.
In his inauguration speech, Putin urged Russians to unite behind its leaders. Per Voice of Russia's translation, he said:
"The future of next generations of Russians depends on us, on our ability to create a new economy, to improve living standards, to become a strong nation and a center of attraction for entire Eurasia. We'll achieve these goals provided that we become a united nation, consolidate our efforts, protect our motherland, strengthen democracy and cement constitutional rights and freedoms."
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Outgoing president Dmitri Medvedev, who is set to become prime minister, told the audience that he had done "everything in his power" to protect the constitution and citizens' rights during his time in office – and, despite "tangible achievements," the government still had a lot to focus on.
Protesters accused the ruling United Russia party of fraud in both December's parliamentary polls and the presidential election in March, both of which resulted in victory for Putin and his supporters.
RIA Novosti notes that, thanks to a 2008 constitutional amendment, presidential terms now run for six years instead of four. If Putin is re-elected in 2018, the news agency calculates, he stands to remain in power until 2024 – "longer than any Russian or Soviet leader since dictator Joseph Stalin."
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