The inauguration of Russia’s President Elect Dmitry Medvedev takes place in Moscow today. Medvedev said that the new duties will become a very serious burden for him despite his experience in big politics. Medvedev stressed out that the new power must not undermine the course of life in the country.
Over 2,000 people have been invited for the ceremony, including 140 foreign guests, mainly ambassadors.
If you ask somebody, what inauguration is, you are not likely to get a precise answer to the question. So what does this term actually mean?
The term derives from Latin ‘inauguro’, which means ‘dedicate’.
Inauguration is a ceremony of formal investiture. The term is usually used in reference to a politician who takes the office of either the head of state or the government chairman
This word – inauguration - has become another loan word in the Russian language. Russians should say ‘coronation’ instead of ‘inauguration’. The coronation is a Russian traditional ceremony marking the investment of a monarch with regal power and placing a crown upon his or her head. This tradition fell into oblivion, but it is worth remembering.
The enthronement of Orthodox monarchs dates back to the ancient times. At that time it was emphasized that a monarch is chosen by God. In the fourth century it was written: “Imperial clothes and crowns are not made or invented by people or by human art, but in the sacred books of ancient history say that when God made Constantine the Great the first Christian tsar, He sent him these clothes and crowns through His angel.”
Byzantine Emperors were succeeded by Russian Grand Princes and later by tsars. Saint Vladimir was the first to obtain the insignia.
The insignia are material signs of power. In Ancient Rome they were a golden crown and an ivory throne. In Russia since Ivan the Terrible they were the Monomakh's Cap and the scapular (a length of cloth suspended on both front and back from the shoulders of the wearer, embroidered with religious images and jewels). Nowadays the insignia are the Constitution, the standard (flag) and the Order of Merit for Country of the I Degree. The Ukrainian President has three symbols: the Collar, the State Seal and the Mace.
The USA: The Bible Oath
The inauguration procedure was worked out in the USA in 1933. Nowadays the solemn ceremony takes place in Washington, always on January 20. This tradition dates back to Franklin Roosevelt’s oath for his second term in 1937. The re-elected vice president put his hand on the Bible and pledged allegiance in the presence of his ministers. The oath ran as follows: “I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States." After that at noon the chairman of the Chief Justice pledged him. A parade, a ball and concerts followed.
Other countries borrowed the tradition. But in most countries the inauguration day is not fixed, apart from those states where the early termination of office in case of president’s demise or retirement does not involve early elections. Thus, in Mexico the vice-president is inaugurated on December 1, in Brazil – on March 15, in Columbia – on August 7 and in Germany – on July 1.
France: no oath of office
The distinctive feature of the French inauguration is that the French President does not pronounce an oath. The elected head of state obtains presidential symbols as the Grand Master of the Order of the Legion of Honour. At the end of the ceremony there are 21 artillery shots are made, and the new president delivers a short speech.
In Russia the end of inauguration is marked by 30 artillery shots.
The ceremony of inauguration usually starts at noon. Accompanied by the Kremlin chimes and the applause of guests (about 1,500 as a rule) President Elect Dmitry Medvedev will go through three Kremlin halls – Georgievsky, Alexandrovsky and Andreevsky.
In the Andreevsky hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace there is a podium on which the new president will take to pledge allegiance to the Russian nation. Behind Dmitry Medvedev there will be Vladimir Putin, the head of the Constitutional Court and heads of the two Houses of Parliament.
Before the oath of office the President Elect will put his right hand on the Constitution of Russia. It has the red cover made of monitor lizard skin. This copy was made especially for the ceremony and is the official symbol of presidential power. On the eve of the ceremony the book is taken from the depository (the Kremlin library). Russia’s first President Boris Yeltsin (in 1996) and second President Vladimir Putin (in 2000 and 2004) pledged on this Constitution.
The text of the oath is standard. It contains an oath of respect and protection of rights and freedoms of people and citizen, observance and protection of the Constitution, protection of sovereignty and independence, security and integrity of the state and loyal service to the people.
After the oath the new president is handed the flag and the symbol of the head of state (the Order of Merit for Country of the I Degree). Dmitry Medvedev will officially take the office of the President of the Russian Federation, and the Russian government will step down.
Afterwards those present will hear Russia’s anthem (words by Sergey Mikhalkov and music by Alexander Alexandrov), and the standard of the head of the country will fly under the dome of the presidential residence in the Kremlin.
The next stage of the ceremony is the inaugural address of the president elect where he usually voices major courses of the country’s development. After that in front of the Kremlin walls there will be 30 artillery volleys made.
The solemn events on Sobornaya Square in front of the Grand Kremlin Palace are likely to resemble those of 2004. The Commander of the Presidential Regiment will report to Dmitry Medvedev, then the regiment will march along Sobornaya Square, and Russia’s President will go to the Cathedral of the Annunciation of the Kremlin where Patriarch of Moscow and All Russia Alexius II will hold a brief service to commemorate the inauguration of Dmitry Medvedev and will congratulate him on the appointment.
Based on reports of Russian news agencies
Translated by Julia Bulygina