Were it not for the French, Greece, and Schleswig-Holstein elections on Sunday, Putin’s inauguration for his third term would have been the top news.
The ceremony included a tepid speech by outgoing “President” Medvedev (“Putin was elected by a majority of voters”), comic-opera marching soldiers, inspiring Tchaikovsky, marches, and the singing of the revamped Soviet national hymn. Putin marched alone down the red carpet of the Kremlin Palace in his characteristic swagger and administered the oath to himself, after which the chairman of the constitutional court, clad in mortarboard and black academic robes, declared Putin president of the Russian Federation. The Ceremony ended, Putin re-transversed the red carpet, pausing at the end to greet well wishers.
Putin’s address made no reference to reforms. Nor did it offer any conciliatory words for those who oppose him, although tens of thousands of protesters had demonstrated angrily on Moscow streets the day before. The beatings and mass arrests Putin’s forces delivered to the demonstrators spoke volumes about his intentions towards any one who stands in his way.
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