At high noon today, Vladimir Putin will rise to the dais in the St Andrew Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace to the sounds of the Kremlin chimes in order to pledge to serve the people as the president of Russia. After that, everyone will stand to listen to Russia's anthem, written by Sergei Mikhalkov to the music by Alexandrov, to be performed at the inauguration for the first time. This will complete Putin's formal accession to office.
Like four years ago, the ceremony will take place in the grand Kremlin Palace and will last no more than an hour. The obligatory procedure stipulated in the Constitution will be attended by members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma, judges of the Constitutional Court, Prime Minister Boris Fradkov and wife, Lyudmila Putina, Russia's first president Boris Yeltsin and wife, Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexy II, federal ministers, ranking members of the presidential staff, and chief editors of the leading media.
In all, about 1,700 people have been officially invited to the ceremony, including heads of diplomatic missions and representatives of international organisations accredited in Moscow.
The St Andrew Hall is the main of the five Kremlin halls named after top decorations. It is also called the Throne Room. The guest will be also placed in two other halls, St George and St Alexander, where they will watch the proceedings on 6-8 big-screen monitors placed in each room.
Shortly before noon, Vladimir Putin will drive into the Kremlin through the Spassky Gate, accompanied by motorcyclists. He will enter the Grand Kremlin Palace by the main entrance, walk through the St George and St Alexander halls into the St Andrew Hall and rise to the dais to the accompaniment of the Kremlin chimes. Standing on the dais will be chairman of the Constitutional Court Valery Zorkin and chairmen of the two houses of the Federal Assembly Sergei Mironov and Boris Gryzlov. Zorkin will offer Putin to begin the ceremony of taking the oath.
After Putin takes the oath, Zorkin will hand to him the emblem of the President of the Russian Federation, the symbol of presidential power. It is a gold chain made of two-headed eagles and medallions with the St George crosses in them, ending in a big St George cross with the gold two-headed eagle and an emerald figure of St George the Dragon-Slayer. The President will address the audience with a short inauguration speech.
The ceremony will end with the review of the presidential regiment. Putin will walk out into Cathedral Square, listen to the commander's report and greet the regiment, which will make a ceremonial march across Cathedral Square. After that, a 30-volley salvo will be fired in honour of the President. Thirty is the maximum number of volleys in the hierarchy of military honours because the President of Russia is also the Supreme Commander of its Armed Forces.
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