Approximately 1,500 people have been invited to the ceremony in the Kremlin: 448 State Duma deputies, 175 members of the Federation Council, 19 Constitutional Court judges, representatives of the Government and other federal agencies, as well as ambassadors and other diplomats.
Duration – 1 hour
A podium has been set up for President Vladimir V. Putin in the Andrew Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace.
The National Flag of the Russian Federation and the Presidential Standard are brought into the hall. Flag-bearers from the Honor Guard of the Presidential Regiment march down the aisle from the Vladimir Hall through the Alexander hall to the podium in the Andrew Hall. The flag-bearers’ uniform includes tall military caps like the kind worn during the War of 1812 as a symbol of the heroism of the Russian army, the country’s defender at all times. The uniforms, like all the elements of this ceremony, are rich with meaning.
The soldiers of the Honor Guard bring in the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the Presidential Emblem.
This special copy of the Constitution, as well as the Emblem and Standard, are the insignia of presidential power. President Yeltsin also took his oath of duty to the Russian people on this copy of the Constitution.
The motorcade of the newly elected President approaches the Great Kremlin Palace. At the entrance, the Kremlin’s commandant, Lieutenant-General Sergey V. Strygin, awaits the President’s arrival.
Lieutenant-General Sergey V.STRYGIN:
“Comrade President of the Russian Federation, commandant of the Moscow Kremlin Lieutenant-General Strygin!”
Vladimir V. PUTIN:
“I wish you good health, Comrade Lieutenant-General, sir!”
Vladimir V.Putin enters the Andrew Hall of the Great Kremlin Palace.
Alexander A. VESHNYAKOV, chairman of the Central Elections Commission:
“Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovirch, esteemed guests, esteemed citizens of the Russian Federation!
“On this grand occasion, allow me, on behalf of the Central Elections Commission, to declare that on March 26, 2000, in strict accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation and the federal law on presidential elections in the Russian Federation, an early election of the President of our country took place with a sufficient voter turnout and was deemed valid. A total of 57,181,071 voters of the registered number of 109,372,000 voted in the election. Of those, 39,740,434, meaning more than half the participating voters, voted for candidate Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin.
“On the basis of this showing of the will of the citizens of the Russian Federation and in accordance with the law, the Central Elections Commission has declared the presidential election valid. The commission has resolved to declare Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin the President of the Russian Federation.
“Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich!
“Accept our sincere and heart-felt congratulations on your election as President of the Russian Federation. We wish you success in your work for the good of the Motherland and the good of every citizen of the Russian Federation.”
Marat V. Baglay, chairman of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation:
“In accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, upon taking office the President must swear an oath of duty to the people. The words [of the oath] are found in Article 82 of the Constitution. The oath is taken in the presence of members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma and judges of the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation.
“Esteemed Vladimir Vladimirovich, I invite you to take the oath before the people of Russia.”
Vladimir PUTIN: “In performing my duties as the President of the Russian Federation, I pledge to respect and protect the rights and liberties of every citizen; to observe and protect the Constitution of the Russian Federation; to protect the sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the state and to serve the people faithfully.”
Marat V. BAGLAY: “In accordance with the Constitution of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin has entered the office of President of the Russian Federation.”
The Presidential Standard is raised above the Presidential residence in the Kremlin.
Boris N. YELTSIN, first President of the Russian Federation:
“Esteemed participants of this grand ceremony, dear citizens of Russia!
“I congratulate you on a historic event in the life of the country. A new President of Russia has officially entered office. I wish Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin that he may carry out the difficult duties of the President in a manner worthy of the office, and I wish the Russian people happiness and prosperity. Today’s event reminds us of the most exciting days in the lives of citizens, and particularly in the lives of presidents.
“We must build a new Russia. For that purpose, a new generation is rising – of statesmen and politicians devoted to democratic values. For them, it will be easier, as they are far less encumbered by the habits of the past than we were; they are bolder in working with outdated dogmas and can handle this.
“For me, this day is also very festive and exciting, although, frankly speaking, I hadn’t expected that. Yes, we started writing the history of the new Russia on a blank slate, so to speak, through trial and error. There were many tough challenges, many difficulties, but now we all have something to be proud of: Russia has changed. It has changed because we took care of it like the apple of our eye, and staunchly defended our main achievement — freedom. We have preserved for Russia a worthy place in the international community, we did not let the country go down the path of dictatorship, we did not allow chaotic discord and we opened up the way to people’s well-being. Success in this effort is a matter of time and intense work.
“Today is the first time in a century that we have a legal transfer of power from one head of state to another. Of course, this is not a simple thing, and we must be proud that it is happening without coups or putsches or revolutions, but in a peaceful, respectful and dignified manner. Such a thing is possible only in a free country, a country that has stopped fearing not only others but itself and its own authorities – who have freed its citizens and given them freedom. Of course, this is possible only in the new Russia, which has taught people to be free in thought and deed.
“Esteemed citizens of Russia!
“Today Vladimir Putin’s presidency officially begins. I am not passing on to him merely the symbol of presidential power; he is receiving that which is most important – responsibility for the country’s future and for all Russian citizens. So today I would like to wish you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, success and luck. The Russian people remember you and together you will go forward. These words are sincere, they come straight from the heart; I cannot do [speak] otherwise, since all of this went through me. Your goal is to live up to these hopes, and I want to repeat the words I once said to you: Take care of Russia.”
Mr. Yeltsin hands the Presidential Emblem to President Putin.
President Vladimir V. PUTIN:
“Esteemed citizens of Russia, dear friends!
“I am addressing you today, you specifically, because you have entrusted me with the highest government post in the country. I understand that I have taken on a great responsibility, and I know that in Russia the head of state has always been and will always be the person who is responsible for everything in the country. The first President of Russia, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, recalled this today, as he leaves the Kremlin, with words that many will remember. He repeated today in this hall: Take care of Russia. This is precisely what I see as the primary responsibility of the President. I will require that my comrades in arms and my colleagues fulfill this duty. I also expect to get help in this patriotic effort from the citizens of Russia and from all those who hold dear the future of our Motherland.
“Today I would also like to thank my supporters, everybody who voted for me in this election. You have supported the initial steps that have already been made. You believed that together we can change our life for the better. I am deeply grateful to you for this. But I understand that your support is only an advance [of trust] to the authorities in general and, obviously, to me, the one being inaugurated today.
“I am also addressing the people who voted for other candidates. I am confident that you cast your votes for our common future, our common aims, for a better life, for a prosperous and strong Russia. Each of us has his own experience, his own views, but we must be together, we have a great deal to do in concert.
“Today truly is a historic day; I want to draw attention to this once more. Really, for the first time in Russia’s history, power is being transferred in the most democratic and simplest way, by the will of the people, legally and peacefully. The transfer of power is always a test of constitutional order, a test of its durability. This is not the first test and, obviously, it will not be the last, but this challenge we have met, this boundary in our lives we have crossed. We have proved that Russia is becoming a modern democratic state. The peaceful succession of power is a critical element of the political stability of which we dreamed, to which we aspired, which we strived to achieve.
“The road to a free society has been neither smooth nor simple. We have both tragic and great chapters in our history. The construction of a democratic state is far from complete, but many things have been achieved. We must guard what we have gained, we must protect and promote democracy, we must make sure that the authorities elected by the people serve the people’s interests, protect Russian citizens everywhere – both inside and outside the country – and serve the public. This is a principled, staunch position that I have defended and will continue to defend.
“For today’s grand occasion we have gathered here in the Kremlin, a place that is sacred to our people. The Kremlin is a focal point of our national heritage. Here, within the walls of the Kremlin, the history of our nation has been made for centuries, and we have no right to be ‘Ivans who don’t remember their predecessors.’ We must not forget anything, we must know our history, know it the way it was and learn its lessons; we must always remember the people who created the Russian state, defended its honor and made it a great, powerful and mighty state. We will cherish this memory, and we will maintain this link between eras, and we will pass on the best of our history to our descendants.
“Esteemed citizens of Russia!
“We have faith in our potential, we have faith in our ability to truly reform and transform the country. We have common aims, we want our Russia to be a free, prosperous, strong and civilized country, a country that its citizens are proud of and that is respected internationally. In recent months, both in Moscow and during meetings in Russia’s regions, I have felt your understanding and your support. And very often I have heard from people — from ordinary people, on the squares and streets of our cities — very simple words that are nonetheless very important to me. People have said to me: ‘We believe you, we’re counting on you; just watch you don’t trick us. ’
“I can assure you that my work will be guided solely by the interests of the state. Perhaps it will not be possible to avoid mistakes, but what I can promise and what I do promise is that I will work openly and honestly.
“I consider it to be my sacred duty to unify the people of Russia, to rally citizens around clear aims and tasks, and to remember every day and every minute that we have one Motherland, one people and one future.
In honor of the inauguration, a 30-gun salute is fired.
The Presidential Regiment awaits the new Commander in Chief on Cathedral Square in front of the Great Kremlin Palace.
President Putin and Mr. Yeltsin come out to the palace porch, Krasniye Seni.
Major-General Sergey V. YANGOREV, the Commander of the Presidential Regiment:
“Comrade President of the Russian Federation, the Presidential Regiment is formed in honor of the inauguration of the President of the Russian Federation!”
President Vladimir V.PUTIN: “Good day, comrades of the Kremlin Guard!”
Regiment: “We wish you good health, Comrade President of the Russian Federation, sir!”
President Vladimir V.PUTIN: “Congratulations on the 64th anniversary of the Presidential Regiment!”
Regiment: “Hurrah! Hurrah! Hurrah!”
Major-General Sergey V. YANGOREV: “Regiment, dress! Attention! To parade, form a line in company, right face! Shoulder arms! Eyes right! Forward march!”
The solemn march of the Kremlin Guard is a stringent military ritual wherein the Presidential Regiment meets the new Commander in Chief, Vladimir V. Putin. The flag-bearers who carried in the President’s insignia at the inauguration now march before the Commander in Chief at the head of the regiment.
The ceremonial uniform of the Guard emphasizes the continuity between today’s Army and its predecessors, the heroes of the War of 1812, Suvorov’s legendary warriors and all those who have defended the Motherland. The new President comes down from the podium to receive congratulations on his inauguration.
At the end of the inauguration ceremony, a brief church service to pray for the President’s long and healthy life is held in the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Annunciation. The Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia, Alexy II, gives his blessing to the new head of state. During the service, First Lady Lyudmila Alexandrovna Putina stands beside the President.
Addressing his words to President Putin, the Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church notes that Russia’s new head of state has received the support of the majority of the country’s citizens.
Patriach ALEXY II:
“Russia is getting a new head of state who received obvious support at the polls. The majority of the people voted for continuity of power, for a well-balanced and responsible style of governance, for rule of law, order, concern for people, and for a strong country that is reasonably open to the world around us. This is the direction that you, Vladimir Vladimirovich, have adhered to in recent months as acting President. Today you are taking up the full weight of the burden of the highest state authority.”
The Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church presents the President with a Tikhvin icon of the Mother of God. Additionally, Alexy II presents the Kremlin with mosaic replicas of icons of the Savior Not Made With Hands and St. Nicholas of Mozhaisk, which adorned the Kremlin’s Spasskie (Savior’s) and Nikolskie (St. Nicholas) gates prior to the Revolution of 1917. Though the original icons were lost, the replicas are destined to get a place in history. President Putin presents an icon of St. Alexander Nevsky to the Patriarch.