Tomorrow's presidential inauguration is distinct from prior ceremonies because both the acting and newly elected presidents are set to participate. This is a first on Russia's political scene. In 2000, Boris Yeltsin attended Vladmir Putin's inauguration, but he had already relinquished his authority in December 1999. Both Medvedev's and Putin's paths through the Kremlin and gala halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace have been meticulously planned.
Putin will likely be at work from early morning at the Kremlin's Main Building. He'll arrive at the Kremlin's Red Porch in a Mercedes with the Presidential Standard (flag) on the hood. Putin will proceed directly to St. Andrew's Hall where the events will be held.
Medvedev's motorcade will enter the Kremlin through the Spassky Gates and drive to the main entrance of the Grand Kremlin Palace. The newly elected president will climb the red carpet on the Kremlin's front stairs to Georgiy's Hall. From there he will go to Aleksandr's Hall to meet Putin.
A modest stage has already been erected at St. Andrew's Hall that is outfitted with the presidential symbols, including the Russian Constitution and Presidential Standard. Chairman of the Constitutional Court Valeriy Zorkin and speakers of both houses of parliament Sergey Mironov and Boris Gryzlov will be on stage with Putin and Medvedev. Zorkin will swear in the newly elected president.
After Medvedev is officially inaugurated, he and Putin will walk out the Red Porch to Cathedral Square. The Presidential Regiment soldiers will perform a ceremonial march. Horse soldiers will accompany them.
Medvedev and his wife will then head to the Kremlin's Blagoveshchensky Cathedral where Patriarch Aleksey II will pray for Russia's new president (as in 2000 and 2004).
Basic Q&A on Medvedev's inauguration
1. Why is the newly elected president inaugurated on May 7 at 12:00?
On May 7 at 12:00, Putin's second four-year term will come to an end. The Russian Constitution states that one and the same individual cannot hold office more than two terms in a row. Putin was inaugurated as president in 2000 and later in 2004.
2. When will Medvedev begin executing presidential authority?
As stated in Article 92 of the Russian Constitution, Medvedev will assume presidential authority the moment he is sworn into office. The text of the presidential oath as written in the Russian Constitution follows:
"While executing the authority of the President of the Russian Federation, I swear to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of the individual and citizen, honor and defend the Constitution of the Russian Federation, defend the sovereignty and independence, and security and integrity of the state, and loyally serve the people."
Besides a special copy of the Russian Constitution, there are several other presidential symbols including the Presidential Standard that is kept permanently in the office of the head of state and the Presidential Symbol that is attached to a gold chain one meter long. The latter was approved in 1996 when Yeltsin put on the chain. However, Putin opted against wearing the chain in 2000 and 2004. However, Putin formally accepted the regales by nodding his head as they were on stage during his inaugurations.
Our sources say that Medvedev will also refuse to wear the gold chain. What's important, though, is an engraving has already been made on one of its links with the name of Russia's president 2008 and the date when Medvedev will assume authority.
3. Why is the inauguration held at the Grand Kremlin Palace?
The inauguration is most likely held at the Grand Kremlin Palace due to tradition. In the mid-19th Century, Aleksandr II's coronation ceremony was also held there (Aug. 26-28 1856). Emperors Aleksandr III and Nikolay II also assumed their authority at St. Andrew's Hall. The court circle gathered there as well. Military elite were usually invited to Aleksandr's Hall, and gentry to Georgy's Hall.
4. Who is invited to the gala halls?
About 2,500 guests will be invited to the gala halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Approximately 1,700 guests were in attendance at Putin's 2004 inauguration. Among the highly positioned government personnel in attendance will be the premier minister, Presidential Administration chief, Supreme Court chairman, Patriarch Aleksey II, Constitutional Court judges, and Federal Council members and deputies. Members of both houses of the parliament, ministries, regional governments, religious leaders, business representatives and cultural, academic and athletic figures, and mass media directors will also attend. Ordinarily, foreign heads of state aren't invited to the ceremony — only ambassadors. Medvedev has also invited many people who he met during his two years as deputy premier minister.
It's not accepted to give gifts to the newly inaugurated president or the president leaving office. However, guests don't leave the event empty-handed. In 2004, everyone received a silver medal dedicated to Putin's inauguration.
5. How will the "nuclear briefcase" be passed to the new president?
We consider this to be a purely technical issue, which is why it's not foreseen in the official ceremony.
Specialists (officers and operators) conduct theoretical exercises and training sessions with the new president regarding the rules of use of the "nuclear briefcase." As part of the training, the head of state launches so-called conference-connections with the two other holders of Russia's nuclear switches — the defense minister and Joint Staff chief. Putin's passing of the nuclear briefcase to Medvedev will take place right after the inauguration. Both will sign an act on the transfer of the equipment. This was the case in late December 1999 when Yeltsin gave the nuclear briefcase to Putin.
The nuclear briefcase is the devise that holds the necessary codes to launch Russia's nuclear arsenal in the event of a military threat.
6. What will the Presidential Orchestra play at the inauguration?
KP spoke with Artistic Director and Chief Composer of the Presidential Orchestra Anton Orlov to find out what music will be played at the event. The orchestra will perform the "March of the Guard" when the state flag, Presidential Standard, Russian Constitution and Presidential Symbol are brought on stage. When the newly elected president walks through the gala halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace, the orchestra will play Tchaikovsky's "Ceremonial March." After Medvedev is sworn in as president, we will play the "Hymn of Russia." At the end of the ceremony, the orchestra will play "Be Glorious" from Mikhail Glinka's opera.
The A. Aleksandrov All-Male Troupe of the Russian Army's Academic Song and Dance Ensemble and the All-Female "Master of Chorus Song" Troupe of the Academic Grand Choir will participate in the ceremony and perform the "Russian Hymn" and "Be Glorious." As the Presidential Regiment passes through Cathedral Square, the musicians will play a standard set of marches similar to a montage.
The bells on the Ivan the Great Bell Tower will ring after the march.
7. Will a banquet be held?
The state reception will be held in the gala halls of the Grand Kremlin Palace. Of course, the tables and chairs need to be set up first and this should require about 5 hours. The guests who have been invited to the ceremonial dinner will have to come to the Kremlin twice — once in the morning and later in the evening. The inaugural menu is secret for now. But it's a well-known fact that the dishes will comprise Russian cuisine. Drinks include Russian vodka and French wine.
Mini-skirts and jeans are prohibited
Invited guests have been warned about the strict dress code
Generally speaking, guests to the Kremlin are allowed to dress liberally. Many come without ties, and mass media reps usually wear jeans and jackets. However, guests at the presidential inauguration must follow a strict dress code. Invitations describe the dress code as: "Ordinary length dresses, dark suits, gala military uniforms (with ordains and medals)."
An ordinary length dress translates as 3-4 centimeters above the knee. In previous years, some female guests wore skirts 10 inches above the knee, but were still allowed entrance.
The preferred colors for the attire are black, gray and blue.
VIP guests are reportedly trying to determine what ties Putin and Medvedev will wear to anticipate the trend. Medvedev as a rule prefers dark wide ties. In 2004, Putin wore a vinous tie. Surely there will be many guests wearing that color this year.
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