Mr Putin won the election with 76% of the vote, however there were widespread allegations of electoral fraud.

The 65-year-old has been in power since 2000, with a spell as prime minister between 2008 and 2012, after the constitution barred him from serving three consecutive terms as president.

Opponents of Mr Putin have likened him to a tsar or emperor.

Ahead of the swearing-in for a six-year term on Monday, thousands of Russians protested against Mr Putin on Saturday, with more than 1,500 people arrested, with prominent opposition figure Alexey Navalny amongst them.

Video showed officers carrying a struggling Mr Navalny, a prominent anti-corruption campaigner and Mr Putin’s biggest political rival who has been arrested several times before, in Moscow’s Pushkin Square.

Mr Navalny has since been released, but faces two charges of organising an unauthorised meeting and of resisting police. Each of those charges can carry a jail sentence of 15 days.

Other rallies took place across Russia as part of Saturday’s unauthorised protest, led under the slogan “He is not our czar”.

OND-Info, an organisation that monitors Russian political arrests, said at least 1,575 people were arrested in demonstrations in 26 cities.

Amnesty International called the arrests and beatings of some Russian protesters “outrageous”.

Officers in riot gear were seen wading into the crowd in Moscow, grabbing some demonstrators and leading them way.

There was, however, no immediate move to disperse the gathering.

A helicopter hovered overhead to monitor the crowd.

News reports and social media postings said that protests had attracted thousands of people as far afield as 10 cities in the far east of the country and Siberia.

While many Russians dislike Mr Putin, many other strongly support him, having welcomed the stability associated with his early years in office when inflation was reined in and basic state functions like the welfare system were shored up, while at the same time, prosperity grew, fuelled by oil and gas revenue.




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