Wednesday, August 24, 2016


Putin's Inauguration By The Numbers

Vladimir Putin, who is being inaugurated as Russian president for the third time on May 7, could potentially remain in office until 2024.
Vladimir Putin, who is being inaugurated as Russian president for the third time on May 7, could potentially remain in office until 2024.
By Tom Balmforth
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.

3 – 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.

6 – 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.

10 – 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.

63.6 – 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.

71 – 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.

1996 – 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.

3,000 – 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.

5,000 – 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).

25,000-30,000 – 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. 

1 million – 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. 

15 million – 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.  

26 million – The cost in rubles ($890,000) of the whole ceremony, according to an entry on the government tenders list

260 billion – Russia’s gross domestic product (GDP) in dollars in 2000, the year that Putin became president, according to the World Bank

1.791 trillion – Russian GDP in dollars as Putin returns to the Kremlin 12 years later, according to the CIA Factbook.

Tom Balmforth

Tom Balmforth covers Russia and other former Soviet republics.


This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Ray F. from: Lawrence, KS
May 06, 2012 17:12
I watched a program the other night dealing with JFK and his role in American history. According to the producers of this documentary, the Kennedy clan pulled out all of the stops (to include some questionable vote counting) to ensure that JFK beat Nixon in November 1960. Even more attention was paid by the Kennedy family during the inauguration ceremony and balls afterwards to solidify JFK’s role as leader among the American people.

Like JFK, I think Putin understands that even though he won at the polls, much of his legitimacy is based upon choreographed rituals that please the adoring multitudes. I heard that all of the major Russian TV stations will be covering the inauguration ceremony. Odd, but even in the most democratic nations, men want to see their leaders crowned with pomp and circumstance.

Nor can you argue with the economic numbers. Most of the Russians I know have never enjoyed such a long period of prosperous stability. There are other numbers, however, which you did not include that also might help in understanding his return to the presidency (i.e. the amount of money in Putin’s Swiss bank accounts; number of palaces he owns; how many journalists murdered under his watch; percentage increase in corruption; number of suicides, drug overdoses, accidents, etc…). Like his predecessor, I'm almost certain that Putin will leave office under a cloud.

In Response

by: Marko from: USA
May 06, 2012 22:23
...always nice to read thoughtful objective intelligent posts here-- even if you don't necessarily agree with their conclusions. That last GDP number is indeed very telling and kudos to RFE/RL too (where Putin's popularity would be somewhat less than that of the Ebola virus) for being fair enough to print it. Putin has solved some of Russia's problems and ameliorated many others. He did that starting from a truly awful initial situation. He isn't instinctually a democrat, but he certainly has represented the overall agenda of most Russians far, far better (and more effectively) than the American-influenced Yeltsin or the late Soviet-era Communist leaders did. Russia still has many problems today (how could it not) but to believe that anyone else could have done better than Putin over the last decade-plus is, at least in my humble opinion, naive. As far as the specific charges at the end of your post Ray, they are either unproven or merely indicative of areas where Putin had relatively less success. He didn't create any of the problems (all very real) that you accurately mention-- such as the drug problem and/or the high male death rate (he did improve the latter a fair bit over the last decade). He isn't a miracle worker, but he has been a solid effective leader. Hopefully, he has some solid achievements during his coming term and then retires.

by: Demyan from: London, UK
May 06, 2012 21:29
Ah, don't flatter Putie with those two last numbers, someone just might not be aware that Russia's GDP is essentially a linear function of the world oil price.
In Response

by: Marko from: USA
May 07, 2012 11:49
Doubtlessly, a broader trend toward higher oil prices helped, but there are two points (at least) that counter the anti-Putin argument that it is just high oil prices. The Russian economy has grown steadily (11 of 12 years) during Putin's tenure, but oil prices have fluctuated (both up and down) during that time. Secondly, the oil price wouldn't have mattered for Russia and Russians if, as during the Yeltsin era, the oil was simply being given away to Western energy transnationals and tax-evading oligarchs -e.g. the Sakhalin II deal with Shell that Putin abrogated and the corrupt " loans for shares" deals that built Khodorkovsky's Yukos. Putin nationalized and expropriated those resources to the Russian peoples' benefit ( a successful long-term move that apparently just inspired Argentina to nationalize Spain's Repsol holdings in Argentina). 0% of $114.00 a barrel is still nothing...
In Response

by: Demyan from: London
May 07, 2012 16:27
Well, let's just look at the charts.

Steady growth, eh? Fluctuating oil price, eh? (Yeah, the 2008 trough is several times higher than the 1999 level).
In Response

by: KIKO from: Los Angeles
May 09, 2012 05:48
@Demyan, you should compare absolute values to absolute values, not rlative:!ctype=l&strail=false&bcs=d&nselm=h&met_y=gdp_production_current_us&scale_y=lin&ind_y=false&rdim=region&idim=country:RUS&ifdim=region&hl=en_US&dl=en&ind=false

by: Andrey from: Moscow, Russia
May 07, 2012 00:45
99.7 - the percentage of votes Putin received in Chechnya.
94.89 - the turnout in Chechnya, a rural region with a history for violent separatism.
46.65 - the percentage of votes Putin received in Moscow.
96.07 - Putin's highest percentage of votes in a local electoral commission in Moscow. It is a psychiatric ward. The rest of the top scores are exclusively in nursing homes, detention centres, and clinics.
14.2 - Putin's percentage of votes at the top economics school in Moscow.
80 - percent for United Russia, 20 percent for Communists. The identical result in each of the 19 local electoral commissions in Mayskaya regional commission (Dagestan).
In Response

by: Ilya
May 07, 2012 15:03
Don't be so cynical Andrey. I'm sure the mentally ill really do love Putin. We even have a couple of regular pro-Putin commentators here who are also clearly very ill.

by: Eugenio from: Vienna
May 07, 2012 05:57
This year the RFE/RL guys has been promoting changes in such countries as Russia, Syria and Iran, whereas what they are getting in fact is a pretty big REAL CHANGE coming in Greece and and a big kick in the ... in France. Congratulations, you guys - good job :-)!

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