Putin to be sworn in as president of divided Russia

May 7, 2012 01:55

MOSCOW - Vladimir Putin will be sworn in as Russia's president at a glittering ceremony on Monday, hours after clashes between police and protesters laid bare the deep divisions over his return to the Kremlin for six more years.

The former KGB spy will take his oath before nearly 2,000 guests in the Kremlin's St Andrew Hall, the former throne room with sparkling chandeliers, gilded pillars and high Gothic vaults, before being blessed by the head of the Russian Orthodox Church and taking charge of the nuclear suitcase.

He will also deliver a short speech, inspect the Kremlin presidential guard and host a lavish reception featuring only Russian food and drink.

Although he has remained Russia's supreme leader for the past four years as prime minister, Putin will take back the formal reins of power he ceded to his ally Dmitry Medvedev in 2008 after eight years as president.

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