Vladimir Putin took the oath as Russia's president today with a ringing appeal for unity at the start of a six-year term in which he faces growing dissent, economic problems and bitter political rivalries.
Putin, 59, was sworn in with his right hand resting on the Russian constitution in a glittering ceremony in the Kremlin's former throne room attended by 2,000 dignitaries who applauded his every step along a long red carpet to the podium.
Outside the Kremlin's high red walls, police rounded up men and women in cafes wearing the white ribbons symbolising their growing protest movement against Putin, having detained more than 400 people during clashes with protesters on Sunday.
"We will achieve our goals if we are a single, united people, if we hold our fatherland dear, strengthen Russian democracy, constitutional rights and freedoms," Putin said in a five-minute speech after taking the oath.
"I will do all I can to justify the faith of millions of our citizens. I consider it to be the meaning of my whole life and my obligation to serve my fatherland and our people."
The former KGB spy will also be blessed by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and take charge of the nuclear suitcase before hosting a lavish reception.
Read more at the Independent...