May 8 - first day of Putin's second term

This Saturday, May 8, is the first day of Vladimir Putin's second term. He was inaugurated to this post yesterday, May 7.

The ceremonial inauguration took place in the Grand Kremlin Palace. Putin swore in, with his hands on a special copy of the Russian Constitution.

Mr. Putin delivered a short speech and promised to continue working actively, openly and honestly. "I'll do my best, everything in my power, to meet the expectations of millions of people," said the Russian president.

He stressed that the president's duty to serve his people faithfully would remain sacred and the most important to him.

According to Mr. Putin, "As before, my premise will be that assistance and backing from the citizens of the Russian Federation are the principal and the most reliable support in the President's activity." "We often say that in Russia, the head of state is and will be responsible for everything. This still holds true. But today, profoundly aware of the degree of my personal responsibility, I would like to point out that success and prosperity of Russia cannot and should not depend on one individual or on one political party, one political force. We need a broad support base to be able to carry on with reforms in this country," said the head of state.

Among the priorities of this presidential term, Mr. Putin named the increase in people's welfare. "The principal goal for the four years ahead will be to transform the potential we have by now accumulated into a new development energy, thereby achieving a fundamentally better quality of life for our people, achieving a tangible improvement in their living standards," said the president.

He asserted that no effort would be spared to provide people with good quality education, medical assistance, the opportunities for their development and self-manifestation.

Summing up the past four years, Mr. Putin pointed out the prevention of the country's territorial breakdown.

"The past [four] years have not been easy to any of us. Quite frankly, this has been a time of ordeal. Many of the problems [facing the nation] seemed just insurmountable back in 2000," said the head of state.

"[By working] together, we have managed to achieve a lot. And we have made all these accomplishments by ourselves.

"It is through our own effort that we have brought up our economic growth rates, that we have overcome the entrenched ideological confrontation to become a unified nation," the President said at his inauguration.

After the inauguration ceremony, Mr. Putin met acting Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov and promised to forward his candidacy for the premiership in the State Duma (lower house) on Friday, which he did later in the day.

Mr. Fradkov thanked the president for his trust. "The government is continuing to work in a normal regime," he added.

The State Duma may consider Mr. Fradkov's candidacy on May 12, acting Vice Premier Alexander Zhukov said in a RIA Novosti interview.

In his words, the members of the resigned government are continuing to perform their duties. "The government is working calmly," he said.

First Deputy Speaker of the Duma Lyubov Sliska also named May 12 as the most likely date for the consideration. She told RIA Novosti that this issue might be considered at the Duma Council on May 11, and on May 12 - at a Duma plenary session. According to her, the cabinet composition will remain intact.

Mr. Zhukov in turn believes that the government might be subject to some structural changes, but refused to elaborate.

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