Foreign

May 7, 2024

US to snub Putin inauguration

US to snub Putin inauguration

Vladimir Putin, Russian President

The United States said it would snub the inauguration Tuesday of Russian President Vladimir Putin after his latest election in which he faced no real opposition.

“We will not have a representative at his inauguration,” State Department spokesman Matthew Miller told reporters Monday.

Asked if the boycott meant the United States considered Putin illegitimate, Miller said, “We certainly did not consider that election free and fair, but he is the president of Russia and is going to continue in that capacity.”

Putin, 71, has led Russia as either president or prime minister since the turn of the century. The election commission said in March that he won a fifth term with 87.28 percent of the votes.

Putin’s most vocal critic, Alexei Navalny, died in an Arctic prison in February. His widow, Yulia Navalnaya, has encouraged the international community not to recognize Putin as a legitimate leader.

Putin inauguration set to prolong his two decades in power

Russian President Vladimir Putin will be sworn into office at a lavish ceremony in the Kremlin on Tuesday, embarking on a record-breaking fifth term with more power than ever before.

The 71-year-old Kremlin chief has ruled Russia since the turn of the century, securing a fresh six-year mandate in March after winning presidential elections devoid of all opposition.

The inauguration will be broadcast live on most major Russian television channels from around midday (0900 GMT), when a luxury motorcade will drive Putin to Moscow’s Grand Kremlin Palace.

After arriving, he will walk through the palace corridors to the ornate Saint Andrew Hall, where he will take the presidential oath and make a brief address to Russians.

Government officials and foreign diplomats in Moscow have been invited to the ceremony, including French ambassador Pierre Levy, who is expected to attend.

Other European countries including Poland, Germany and the Czech Republic have signalled that they will not send representatives amid soured tensions over the conflict in Ukraine.

Putin’s 87 percent landslide victory in the presidential election was panned by most international observers and dismissed as rigged by opposition and rights groups.

The inauguration comes two days before Russia marks Victory Day on May 9, an event that has taken on renewed symbolism as Putin compares his offensive in Ukraine to Russia’s fight against Nazi Germany in World War II.

Authorities have erected barriers throughout Moscow’s city centre ahead of both events.

– Shake-up –

Putin kicks off his six-year term emboldened by advances on the battlefield in Ukraine and sustained economic growth, despite a barrage of Western sanctions.

On the domestic front, he saw off a rebellion last June from paramilitary chief Yevgeny Prigozhin — who later died in a plane crash — and in February his main political rival Alexei Navalny died in prison.

His victory in March means that he is likely to become the longest-serving ruler of Russia in a century, beating out Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.

Russia’s army held off a much-hyped Ukrainian counter-offensive last year, and it has since made gains on the front lines as Kyiv struggles with ammunition and manpower shortages.

But as the conflict stretches into a third year without an obvious resolution and the economy teeters towards overheating, Putin faces significant challenges in his fifth term.

Inflation — a historic source of angst amongst the Russian population — remains persistent as Moscow adopts what analysts have called a “military Keynesianism”, pouring billions of resources into the war effort.

The Kremlin has also failed to quell fears it will announce a new round of unpopular mobilisation in Putin’s new term, and discontent among the wives of men who have been drafted continues to simmer.

Some analysts have suggested Putin may use the inauguration to shake up his government, which is obligated to resign ahead of a new presidential term.