MOSCOW, RUSSIA-- Russia's Vladimir Putin took his vows in the Kremlin Monday to become President for another six years after winning an election in March with no meaningful opposition. If the former spy chief completes his full term he will have dominated Russian politics for almost a quarter of a century.
Cameras rolled as Putin, 65, walked from his office, down seemingly endless red carpets into a new Russian-made Cortege limousine that took him to the Spassky Gate and on to the lofty and gold-plated Alexander Hall -- the former throne room of imperial Russia, arriving just after the clocks struck midday.
"My whole life will be dedicated to serving our people and our homeland," Putin said in a short address to hundreds of dignitaries, vowing to "restore strength, prosperity and glory" to the Russian state, and talking of his role as a "sacred duty."
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, who holds positions in Russian energy companies Gazprom and Rosneft, sat in the front. Hollywood actor and Russian citizen Steven Seagal, a personal friend of Putin, also attended the ceremony.
Amid concern about widespread protests, the event was more low-key than the last time Putin was sworn in as President in 2012.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released from police custody early Sunday, a day after hundreds of people were detained following an anti-government protest in Moscow.
Navalny, a fierce critic of Putin, organized in several cities across Russia on Saturday. He was detained by police shortly after arriving in Moscow's Pushkinskaya Square, with dramatic images showing the protest leader being carried through the crowds by police.
Navalny said in a tweet that he was released shortly after midnight, after police "registered two protocols against me: organization of a rally and resistance of the police."