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US, UK, most EU nations to boycott Putin inauguration

In News, World
May 07, 2024

Russia’s Vladimir Putin will be sworn in for a fifth term as president in a ceremony at the Kremlin later on Tuesday.

The United States and most European Union nations have said they will not send envoys to Tuesday’s inauguration of Vladimir Putin as Russian president.

Putin, 71, secured a fifth term in office in a March election that critics said lacked democratic legitimacy.

He gained 87.28 percent of the vote, weeks after the sudden death of his most vocal critic, Alexey Navalny, in an Arctic prison.

“We will not have a representative at his inauguration,” US State Department spokesperson Matthew Miller told reporters. “We certainly did not consider that election free and fair but he is the president of Russia and he is going to continue in that capacity.”

The United Kingdom and Canada said they would not send anyone to the ceremony, while a spokesperson for the European Union told the Reuters news agency the bloc’s ambassador to Russia would not attend the inauguration, in keeping with the position of most of the EU’s member states.

The three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania – which have withdrawn their ambassadors from Moscow – ruled out attending the inauguration.

“We believe that the isolation of Russia, and especially of its criminal leader, must be continued,” Lithuania’s Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said.

“Participation in Putin’s inauguration is not acceptable for Lithuania. Our priority remains support for Ukraine and its people fighting against Russian aggression.”

The Czech Republic is also expected to snub the ceremony, while Germany’s Foreign Office said its representative would not attend – it earlier recalled its ambassador over alleged Russian cyberattacks.

An aide to Putin said the heads of all foreign diplomatic missions in Moscow including those from “unfriendly states” had been invited to attend the inauguration, which starts at noon (09:00 GMT) and will be broadcast live on Russian television.

Putin is due to arrive in a luxury motorcade – state-run RT reported modifications to his armoured Aurus limousine including improved sound insulation and all-round cameras – at the Grand Kremlin Palace. The one-time KGB spy will then walk through the palace corridors to the ornate Saint Andrew Hall, where he will take the presidential oath and make a brief address. He will also received a blessing from the patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church.

The ceremony is taking place a day after Russia announced plans for a tactical nuclear weapons drill, blaming what it said were “provocative” moves by Western countries over Ukraine. Putin launched his full-scale invasion of Ukraine more than two years ago.

“Ukraine sees no legal grounds for recognising him as the democratically elected and legitimate president of the Russian Federation,” Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.

Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony, it said, sought to create “the illusion of legality for the nearly lifelong stay in power of a person who has turned the Russian Federation into an aggressor state and the ruling regime into a dictatorship”.

Despite the apparent boycotts, France, Hungary and Slovakia are all expected to send representatives to the ceremony, Reuters reported, citing unnamed diplomatic sources.

Speaking alongside China’s president on Monday, French President Emmanuel Macron said: “We are not at war with Russia or the Russian people, and we have no desire for regime change in Moscow.”

The source said France had previously condemned the context of repression in which the election was held, depriving voters of a real choice, as well as the organisation of elections in Ukrainian territories occupied by Russia, which France considers a violation of international law and the United Nations Charter.

Franco-Russian relations have deteriorated in recent months as Paris has increased its support for Ukraine.

Last week, Macron said it would be legitimate for France to send troops to Ukraine if Russia broke through the Ukrainian front lines and Kyiv requested assistance.

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