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Putin takes oath for record fifth presidential term

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has been sworn into office at a flamboyant Kremlin ceremony for a record-breaking fifth term with more power than ever before.

The 71-year-old has ruled Russia since the turn of the century, securing a fresh six-year mandate in March after winning presidential elections greeted with controversies.

At the ceremony inside the gilded Grand Kremlin Palace, Mr. Putin placed his hand on the Russian Constitution and vowed to defend it as a crowd of hand-picked dignitaries looked on.

Since succeeding President Boris Yeltsin in the waning hours of 1999, Mr. Putin has transformed Russia from a country emerging from economic collapse to a state that threatens global security, AP reported.

Following the 2022 invasion of Ukraine that has become Europe’s biggest conflict since World War II, Russia has been heavily sanctioned by the West and is turning to other regimes like China, Iran and North Korea for support.

The question now is, what will Mr. Putin do over the course of another six years, both at home and abroad.

Russian forces are gaining ground in Ukraine, deploying scorched-earth tactics as Kyiv grapples with shortages of men and ammunition. Both sides are taking heavy casualties.

Mr Putin dominates the domestic political landscape. On the international stage, he is locked in a confrontation with Western countries he accuses of using Ukraine as a vehicle to try to defeat and dismember Russia.

“For Russia, this is the continuation of our path, this is stability – you can ask any citizen on the street,” Sergei Chemezov, a close Putin ally, told Reuters before the ceremony.

“President Putin was re-elected and will continue the path, although the West probably doesn’t like it. But they will understand that Putin is stability for Russia rather than some sort of new person who came with new policies – either cooperation or confrontation even,” he said.

Putin in March won a landslide victory in a tightly controlled election from which two anti-war candidates were barred on technical grounds.

His best known opponent, Alexei Navalny, died suddenly in an Arctic penal colony a month earlier, and other leading critics are in jail or have been forced to flee abroad.

The United States and other Western countries stayed away from Tuesday’s inauguration ceremony.

“No, we will not have a representative at his inauguration,” Matthew Miller, a U.S. State Department spokesperson, said on Monday.

“We certainly did not consider that election free and fair but he is the president of Russia and he is going to continue in that capacity.”

Britain, Canada and most European Union nations also decided to boycott the swearing-in, but France said it would send its ambassador.

Ukraine said the event sought to create “the illusion of legality for the nearly lifelong stay in power of a person who has turned the Russian Federation into an aggressor state and the ruling regime into a dictatorship.”

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