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7 May 2004 -- Russia's Vladimir Putin took the presidential oath of office today, starting his second four-year term.
"I swear, in exercising my powers as president of the Russian Federation, to respect and protect the rights and freedoms of citizens and individuals, to observe and protect the Constitution of the Russian Federation, to protect its sovereignty and independence, the security and integrity of the state, to serve the people faithfully," Putin said.
Putin won re-election in March by a convincing margin, while elections in December gave his supporters in the Unified Russia party a more than two-thirds majority in the Duma, the lower house of parliament.
About 1,700 guests watched the 51-year-old Putin, a former Soviet KGB agent and now Russia's undisputed leader, stride into the lavish Andreevskii Hall of the Kremlin and take the pledge to serve his country.
Putin has said he will not seek a constitutional change to permit him to pursue a third term after 2008, when this term expires.