Vladimir Putin has been sworn in for a fourth term as Russian president and pledged to harness the country’s talents to “achieve breakthroughs”.
Some 5,000 guests attended the lavish ceremony in an ornate Kremlin hall.
“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 at Monday’s swearing-in ceremony, with his hand on the Russian constitution.
He has been in power for 18 years, as president and prime minister, and opponents have likened his tenure to the reign of a tsar, or emperor.
“I feel strongly conscious of my colossal responsibility,” he said, thanking Russians for their “sincere support” and “cohesiveness.”
Russian TV showed Putin, 65, leaving his Kremlin office and walking to the ceremony, down long corridors.
He then took a short ride in a new, Russian-made limousine, called Cortege, in the Kremlin compound. Previously he and his entourage have used foreign luxury cars.
In previous years a bigger motorcade drove the president across Moscow to the ceremony.
German ex-Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, now in charge of a branch of Russian gas giant Gazprom, was in the front row alongside Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev and Orthodox Church Patriarch Kirill.
Another celebrity friend of Putin, Hollywood star and Russian citizen Steven Seagal, stood near the front row.
“We have revived pride in our fatherland,” Putin said.
On Saturday riot police confronted protesters against his rule in Moscow and other Russian cities. More than 1,000 arrests are said to have been made in 19 cities.
Meanwhile Putin asked parliament to back a new mandate for outgoing prime minister Dmitry Medvedev, his longtime ally.
“Putin submitted Dmitry Medvedev’s candidacy to receive the agreement of the State Duma to appoint him prime minister,” the Kremlin said in a statement shortly after Putin was inaugurated for a fourth term. – Agencies