Putin to be sworn in as president of divided Russia

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

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

He will also deliver a short speech, inspect the Kremlinpresidential guard and host a lavish reception featuring onlyRussian food and drink.

Although he has remained Russia's supreme leader for thepast four years as prime minister, Putin will take back theformal reins of power he ceded to his ally Dmitry Medvedev in2008 after eight years as president.

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