Inauguration ceremonies in the Kremlin: From Yeltsin to Putin (PHOTOS)

Moscow is gearing up for another inauguration ceremony in the Kremlin, and Vladimir Putin will be taking center stage for the fourth time on May 7. It’s the seventh such event in Russia’s recent history, and all started in 1991 when the country was still part of the USSR.

Boris Yeltsin swore an oath to become the president of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic on July 10, 1991. It was the first inauguration ceremony of its kind (as Soviet leaders did not have such rituals) and Yeltsin placed his right hand on his heart, not on the Constitution, which later became tradition. The main state document was just there for show.

The young Russian Republic still had its Soviet flag with the hammer and sickle. The Soviet Union still existed at the time spearheaded by Mikhail Gorbachev. He congratulated Yeltsin, his bitter political rival, and called upon him to keep the Union. From July to December, until the collapse of the USSR, the two presidents shared the Kremlin as their official place of residence.

It’s said that the 1996 ceremony was initially supposed to take place on the Kremlin square as singing and bells sounded in the background, but this was cut out. The event marking Yeltsin’s return to office was shortened due to his poor health. He was sporting a new presidential sign: A golden cross with the Russian coat of arms on a meter long gold chain.

In 2000, Yeltsin’s successor - Vladimir Putin - did not want to wear the flashy jewelry. However, the cross, presidential banner, and special copy of the Constitution were officially made part of the inauguration in 1996 so Putin had to suck it up. “Take care of Russia!” the old man said to his successor.

The ceremony after Putin’s reelection in 2004 was twice as short as the previous one, lasting only 25 minutes. According to Russian officials, 1,700 guests were invited to the Grand Kremlin Palace.

In 2008, when Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev became president, Vladimir Putin recalled Yeltsin’s words, and said that taking care of Russia remained his utmost civic duty. He then handed over power to Medvedev.

Putin’s return to the Kremlin after his reelection in 2012 was preceded by protests fueled by the parliamentary elections at the end of 2011. However, the streets were almost empty when Putin drove to his inauguration ceremony in the Kremlin on May 7, 2012.

The inauguration ceremony takes place in Andreyevsky Hall in the Grand Kremlin Palace, named after the highest award of the Russian Empire: The Order of St. Andrew the Apostle the First-Called. The hall was redesigned during the USSR but in 1993 - on Yeltsin’s request - the space was restored to its original beauty. In the time of the Russian Empire, the hall was used for solemn events like coronations.

Read here about Russian songs devoted to Vladimir Putin.

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