Vladimir Putin was sworn in as Russia’s president for a fourth term on Monday, extending his almost two-decade rule by another six years.
The 65-year-old has been in power since 1999. He is on course to become the longest-serving Russian leader since Joseph Stalin after his victory in March’s elections.
“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 was brought to the inauguration ceremony in a black Russian-made limousine, unlike his previous ceremonies when he used a Mercedes.
“I feel strongly conscious of my colossal responsibility,” he said, 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, prosperity and fame of Russia.”
“For Putin any concession is a sign of weakness, so there shouldn’t be any expectation of a change in foreign policy,” said Konstantin Kalachev, the head of the Political Expert Group think tank in Moscow.
The constitution bars Putin from running again when his fourth term ends in 2024. But he has remained silent on the issue of his succession.
Oreshkin said Putin would stay on for the full term but Kalachev suggested he could leave the Kremlin before he serves out the six years.
“He will stay in power, but not necessarily in the presidency,” he said. “For Putin to write his place in history, he needs to pick the right moment to go. Serving another six years is a road to nowhere. He will leave in a way that takes everyone by surprise.”
“People will live better,” he said.
“We need breakthroughs in all spheres of life. I am deeply convinced that such a breakthrough can only be achieved by a free society that accepts everything new and progressive, and rejects injustice.” Russian businesses are expecting wide-ranging reforms.