MOSCOW (AP) – Vladimir Putin took the oath of office for his fourth term as Russian president on Monday and promised to pursue an economic agenda that would boost living standards across the country.
In a ceremony in an ornate Kremlin hall, Putin said improving Russia’s economy following a recession partly linked to international sanctions would be a primary goal of his next six-year term.
“Now, we must use all existing possibilities, first of all for resolving internal urgent tasks of development, for economic and technological breakthroughs, for raising competitiveness in those spheres that determine the future,” he said in his speech to thousands of guests standing in the elaborate Andreevsky Hall of the Grand Kremlin Palace and two adjacent halls.
“A new quality of life, well-being, security and people’s health – that’s what’s primary today,” he said.
Although Putin has restored Russia’s prominence on the world stage through military actions, he has been criticized for inadequate efforts to diversify Russia’s economy away from its dependence on oil and gas exports and to develop the manufacturing sector.
Putin held onto the presidency in March’s election when he tallied 77 percent of the vote.
Putin has effectively been the leader of Russia for all of the 21st century. He stepped down from the presidency in 2008 because of term limits, but was named prime minister and continued to steer the country until he returned as president in 2012.