May 7 marks the return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency, when Russia's outgoing prime minister will be inaugurated for a third term in a ceremony at the Kremlin. RFE/RL takes a look at how the inauguration and its fledgling traditions add up.
– The number of reception halls of the Great Kremlin Palace that will be used for the lavish inauguration ceremony. In what Kremlin officials want to establish as a time-honored tradition, the inauguration has been held in the Georgievksy, Aleksandrovsky, and Andreyevsky halls of the Kremlin ever since Putin was first inaugurated as president on May 7, 2000.
Prior to this, Boris Yeltsin was inaugurated in 1991 and 1996 in comparatively drab ceremonies in the Kremlin Palace of Congress, which was used for Soviet-era Communist Party congresses.
– The number of years Putin’s new term in the Kremlin will last. President Dmitry Medvedev, who is leaving the Kremlin after four years, extended presidential terms from four to six years, meaning that his mentor Putin can rule until 2018 and potentially until 2024.
– The age of the Russian-made cognac on the food-and-drinks menu to be served at the banquet after the inauguration. The organizers specifically selected Russian produce. The wines include the Russian-made Pinot Aligote Selection Chateau le Grand Vostock 2009 and 2008 Russian Arbau-Dyurso “shampanskoe.”
The menu begins with a scallop appetizer with vegetable pancakes and white mushroom sauce, smoked halibut with lettuce, fried duck rolls with a rosemary and Cornelian-cherry sauce, and seafood salad with avocado puree. Fried Kamchatka crab with ratatouille and coconut milk cappuccino are among the hot appetizers on offer. And for a main course, guests can tuck into sturgeon steak stuffed with baby vegetables in champagne sauce.
– The percentage of the vote that Putin won in the March 4, 2012, presidential election. In 2000, he won 53 percent; in 2004, he received 72 percent. Medvedev got 70 percent in 2008.
– Putin’s age in 2024. If he remains in the Kremlin for two more terms, winning reelection in 2018, he will be a septuagenarian when his stint at the helm comes to an end.
– The last year that foreign leaders were formally invited to attend the ceremony. The Kazakh press appeared certain that Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbaev would attend this year after his staunch support for the customs union between Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus that Putin has personally championed.
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian press was unsure if President Viktor Yanukovych would make the cut as Kyiv and Moscow remain at odds over gas contracts.
Instead, neither of them will go. The only high-profile foreigners known to be on the guest list are former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and ex-Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, both of whom are invited as Putin’s personal friends. One of Putin’s first destinations as president will be China. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said recently that Putin is expected to visit that country in June.
– The number of guests expected to be crammed into the three reception halls in the Kremlin. They include members of the Federation Council, deputies of the State Duma, the judges of the Constitutional Court, the heads of diplomatic missions, representatives of the government and federal bodies of power, the "systemic" opposition including tycoon-turned-opposition politician Mikhail Prokhorov, and representatives of the Orthodox Church.
The last Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev is also on the guest list. Some regional governors and editors in chief of major news outlets are expected, too.
– The cost in rubles ($170) of commemorative medals that are due to be awarded to attending guests, at an overall cost to the Russian taxpayer of 10 million rubles ($340,000).
– The number of people behind bars that the nationalist Liberal Democratic party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky has reportedly said
he wants freed to mark the inauguration.
Just as he proposed in a draft bill in 2008 ahead of Medvedev’s inauguration, Zhirinovsky wants those convicted of minor crimes who are under 18 years of age, pregnant, or the mothers of young children to be released from jail. According to some reports, this could potentially include members of the punk feminist group Pussy Riot, who are currently in pretrial detention, as well as Taisya Osipova, the wife of an opposition member jailed for the possession of drugs that, she says, were planted on her by police.
However, the draft bill amounted to nothing in 2008, and it looks likely to remain that way this year since the bill has not been seriously discussed in parliament.
– The number of protesters that the opposition are hoping to bring onto the streets on May 6, the day before the inauguration, to demonstrate that they do not recognize the legitimacy of Putin as president. In reality, the opposition’s "March of a Million" is expected to struggle to match the success of anti-Kremlin rallies in December and earlier this year, which attracted more than 100,000 people. On its Facebook event page, fewer than 7,000 have indicated that they will attend the march.
– The alleged price in rubles ($510,000) for a seat next to high-ranking officials at the banquet after the ceremony, according to a "Forbes" reporter
who interviewed the head of a private company that claims to be organizing the ceremony alongside the presidential administration.
There are cheaper tickets available at 6 million rubles, but these will not grant the bearer the right to choose where to sit, and "Forbes" notes that businessmen will want to be able to sit next to particularly influential officials in order to discuss their particular issues. The Kremlin administration has called this fraud and denied that any such company is working alongside it.
– The cost in rubles ($890,000) of the whole ceremony, according to an entry on the government tenders list
– Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in dollars in 2000, the year that Putin became president, according to the World Bank
– Russian GDP in dollars as Putin returns to the Kremlin 12 years later, according to the CIA Factbook