MOSCOW — Vladimir Putin took the oath of office in a brief Kremlin ceremony on Monday, while on the streets outside thousands of helmeted riot police prevented hundreds of demonstrators from protesting his return to the presidency.
Putin, 59, has ruled Russia since 2000, first as president and then during the past four years as prime minister. The new, now six-year term will keep him in power until 2018, with the option of running for a fourth term.
“I consider service to the fatherland and our nation to be the meaning of my life,” Putin said in addressing 3,000 guests in a glittering Kremlin hall.
Despite unprecedented security measures in the center of Moscow, where streets were closed to traffic and passengers prevented from exiting subway stations, at least 1,000 opposition activists tried to protest along the route Putin’s motorcade took to the Kremlin. Many wore the white ribbons that are a symbol of the anti-Putin protest movement.
The demonstrators, separated into several groups, were met by helmeted riot police. A total of 120 were detained, including opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Putin’s inauguration came a day after an opposition protest drew more than 20,000 people, fewer than the mass demonstrations in the months that preceded his March election but still a sign that the anger over Putin’s return to the Kremlin has not faded.