Isolated From West, Putin Projects Domestic Power at Inauguration

Vladimir V. Putin was inaugurated for a fifth term as president on Tuesday in a ceremony filled with pageantry and a televised church service, as the Russian leader tried once more to depict his invasion of Ukraine as a religiously righteous mission that is part of “our 1,000-year history.”

Mr. Putin took the presidential oath — he swore to “respect and safeguard the rights and freedoms of man and citizen” — with his hand on a red-bound copy of Russia’s constitution, the 1993 document that guarantees many of the democratic rights that he has spent much of his 25-year rule rolling back.

Mr. Putin claimed his fifth term in March in a rubber-stamp election that Western nations dismissed as a sham. If he serves the full six years of his new term, he will become the longest serving Russian leader since Empress Catherine the Great in the 19th century.

“Together, we will be victorious!” Mr. Putin said at the end of a speech after he took the oath in the Kremlin’s gilded St. Andrew’s Hall.

Afterward, in a departure from the broadcast of Mr. Putin’s 2018 inauguration, state television showed a service inside the Kremlin’s Cathedral of the Annunciation that was led by Patriarch Kirill I, the head of the Russian Orthodox Church. He blessed Mr. Putin as the president stood, looking on, occasionally bowing and crossing himself — a scene that underscored the Kremlin’s intensifying efforts to give a religious sheen to Mr. Putin’s rule.

“The head of state must sometimes make fateful and fearsome decisions,” the patriarch said, in what appeared to be attempt to frame Mr. Putin’s invasion as justified before God. “And if such a decision is not made, the consequences can be extremely dangerous for the people and the state. But these decisions are almost always associated with victims.”

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