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.