Vladimir Putin has been inaugurated for a fourth term as president of Russia following his decisive victory in the March elections.
The Russian head of state took the oath of office on Monday at the Grand Kremlin Palace, swearing to serve his people, safeguard their rights and freedoms, and defend the country’s sovereignty.
“I consider it my duty and my life’s aim to do everything possible for Russia, for its present and for its future,” Putin said, with his hand on the Russian constitution.
“I strongly feel conscious of my colossal responsibility,” Putin said at the ceremony before thanking Russians for their “sincere support” and “cohesiveness.”
“We have revived pride in our fatherland,” Putin said. “As head of state I will do all I can to multiply the strength and prosperity of Russia.”
State media also aired footage of Putin take an inaugural ride in his new Russian-made limousine, ditching the imported vehicles he has been using up to now.
President Putin was re-elected in March for another six-year term after securing more than 76 percent of the votes, in what was recorded as his best ever performance.
He also served as prime minister from 2008 to 2012 when current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was president.
President Putin expresses gratitude to Russians after winning a landslide victory in the presidential election, in which he secured nearly 77 percent of the votes.
Ahead of the ceremony, the president met with the outgoing cabinet members, thanking them for their efforts in overcoming challenges.
“Our main task for the next few years is a significant raise of the citizens’ real income,” Putin was quoted as saying in a Kremlin statement.
Putin noted that state employees, including doctors, teachers and other professionals had already received a raise.
He said the government in the past six years had operated as a “good team,” and that it had had to deal with “new challenges and extraordinary events in the country, as well as in the world.”
Moscow faced “the sharp fall of oil prices, attempts to put pressure via sanctions, the changes of the global political settings.”
Following his inauguration, Putin will have two weeks to recommend to the State Duma a candidate for the position of prime minister, who will then be tasked with forming a new government.
Over the weekend, Russian opposition supporters held protests in Moscow against Putin’s administration.
Russian police made some 300 arrests during the “unauthorized” gatherings, among them opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was released shortly afterwards.
Navalny said in a tweet that he was released after police “registered two protocols against me: organization of a rally and resistance of the police.”