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Sunday, 7 May, 2000, 09:46 GMT 10:46 UK
Putin's inauguration speech
Mr Putin is applauded as he arrives at the ceremony
The following is the full text of Vladimir Putin's address as he became Russia's second democratically elected president at a lavish ceremony at the Kremlin.

Esteemed citizens of Russia and dear friends, I am addressing you today, you in particular, since you have entrusted me with the highest post in the country.

I am aware that I have undertaken a huge responsibility and I am aware that the head of state in Russia has always been and will always be responsible for everything, for everything that is happening in the country.

On leaving the Kremlin, the first president of Russia, Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin, made remarks which many would remember. He reminded us of these words today. He said and repeated in this hall today: take care of Russia. This is how I see my main task as president.

I will expect my comrade-in-arms and colleagues to fulfil this duty as well. I am hoping that my fellow compatriots and all those who hold dear the destiny of their fatherland will help in this patriotic affair.

Today is truly a historic day

Vladimir Putin
I also want to thank my supporters today, all those who voted for me during the election. You expressed your support for the first steps that were made. You believed that together we could change life for the better.

I am deeply grateful to you for this but I understand that your support is only an advance to the authorities as a whole and, of course, to myself, who is assuming office as the country's president.

I appeal also to those who voted for other candidates: I am convinced that you voted for our common future, for our common goals, for a better life, for a flourishing and strong Russia. Each one of us has his own experience, his own views, but we must be together: we have to do a great many things together.

Today is truly a historic day. I wish to focus attention on this once more. In actual fact, for the first time in the entire history of our state, for the first time in Russian history, supreme power in the country is handed over in the most democratic and in the most simple way: through the will of the people - legally and peacefully.

The peaceful succession of power is the crucial element of the political stability which we have dreamt of

Vladimir Putin
The transfer of power is always a test of the constitutional system, a test of its strength.

It is true that this is not the first test for us. Perhaps, it is not the last one.

However, we have gone through this trial, this stage, with dignity. We have proved that Russia is becoming a truly democratic modern state. The peaceful succession of power is the crucial element of the political stability which we have dreamt of, to which we have aspired and which we have sought.

The movement towards a free society has not been easy. There have been both tragic and bright stages in our history.

The establishment of a democratic state is a process which is yet far from completed. However, a great deal has already been done.

We must safeguard what has been achieved, maintain and develop democracy, ensure that the authorities elected by the people work in their interests, defend Russian citizens everywhere, including both inside and outside our country, and serve the society.

This is my convinced firm position. I have defended it and intend to continue defending it.

We want our Russia to be a free, prosperous, rich, strong and civilized country

Vladimir Putin
For today's solemn event we are gathered here, in the Kremlin, a place which is sacred for our people. The Kremlin is the heart of our national memory. Our country's history has been shaped here, inside the Kremlin walls, over centuries. And we do not have the right to be heedless of our past.

We must not forget anything. We must know our history, know it as it really is, draw lessons from it and always remember those who created the Russian state, championed its dignity and made it a great, powerful and mighty state.

We shall preserve that memory, and we shall preserve that tradition through the ages. We shall hand down to our descendants all that is best in our history - all that is best.

Esteemed citizens of Russia, we believe in our strength, in our ability to really transform and transfigure the country. We have common goals.

We want our Russia to be a free, prosperous, rich, strong and civilized country, a country of which its citizens are proud and which is respected in the world.

'Common destiny'

During the past few months, both in Moscow and during meetings in the Russian regions, I have sensed your understanding and your support, and very often from people, from the most ordinary people, in the squares and streets of our towns I have heard very simple words, but words that are very important to me.

We believe you. We are counting on you. Don't deceive us. I can assure you that in my work I will be guided only by the interests of the state but there may well be mistakes.

But I can promise you, and indeed I do promise, you that I will work openly and honestly.

I consider it my sacred duty to unite the people of Russia and to gather citizens around the clearly-defined tasks and aims and to remember, every minute of every day, that we are one nation and we are one people. We have one common destiny.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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See also:

07 May 00 | Europe
Putin takes power
06 May 00 | Europe
Putin still has Moscow guessing

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