Tuesday 23 January 2018

Revellers celebrate in Moscow as Donald Trump is sworn in as US president

A pedestrian walks past the store
A pedestrian walks past the store "Army of Russia", located opposite the U.S. embassy, with an image of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump seen on the advertising board, in Moscow, Russia, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin

Vladimir Isachenkov, in Moscow

Russian officials and politicians have lauded Donald Trump's inauguration, hoping it will herald a period of better ties with the US.

Revellers in Moscow and elsewhere gathered for celebrations as bar and club owners sought to cash in on public excitement.

Mr Trump's promises to fix ravaged relations with Moscow have elated Russia's political elite following spiralling tensions with Washington over the Ukrainian crisis, the war in Syria and allegations of Russian meddling in the US elections.

While Mr Trump's policy towards Russia is as yet unclear, prime minister Dmitry Medvedev said that "we are hoping that reason will prevail".

"We are ready to do our share of the work in order to improve the relationship," Mr Medvedev said on Facebook.

A hundred Trump sympathisers, nationalist activists and spin doctors gathered at a hipster party location several hundred metres away from the Kremlin to celebrate.

US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-R) and his wife Melania to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-R) and his wife Melania to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-L) and his wife Melania(2nd-R) to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(2nd-L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(L) and his wife Melania(2nd-R) to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-R) and his wife Melania to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome President-elect Donald Trump(2nd-R) and his wife Melania(2nd-L) to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-R) and his wife Melania to the White House
US President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania leave St. John's Episcopal Church on January 20, 2017, before Trump's inauguration.
US President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania leave St. John's Episcopal Church on January 20, 2017, before Trump's inauguration.
US President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania speak with Reverend Luis Leon as they leave St. John's Episcopal Church
US President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania leave St. John's Episcopal Church on January 20, 2017, before Trump's inauguration.
US President-elect and his wife Melania leave St. John's Episcopal Church on January 20, 2017, before Trump's inauguration. / AFP PHOTO / Nicholas KammNICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-R) and his wife Melania to the White House
Tiffany Trump(C) and the Trump family arrive for the Inauguration of Donald Trump in Washington, DC on Janury 20, 2017.
President-elect Donald Trump(C)is greeted by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) as he arrives at the White House
President-elect Donald Trump(C)is greeted by US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) as he arrives at the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(2nd-L) and his wife Melania(2nd-R) to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(2nd-L) welcome Preisdent-elect Donald Trump(L) and his wife Melania(2nd-R) to the White House
US President Barack Obama(R) and First Lady Michelle Obama(L) welcome President-elect Donald Trump(2nd-R) and his wife Melania(2nd-L) to the White House
US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama prepare to greet President-elect Donald Trump and his wife Melania to the White House
US Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill walk through the colonnade at the White House WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
US President Barack Obama waves as he walks through the colonnade as he departs the Oval Office for the last time as president, at the White House
President-elect Donald Trump (C),and his wife Melania Trump (L), are greeted by President Barack Obama (R), and his wife first lady Michelle Obama, upon arriving at the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Later in the morning President-elect Trump will be sworn in as the nation's 45th president during an inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
President-elect Donald Trump gives a thumbs up, as his wife Melania Trump (C), first lady Michelle Obama, upon arriving at the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Later in the morning President-elect Trump will be sworn in as the nation's 45th president during an inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
Vice President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden leaves the White House for the final time as the nation prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
President-elect Donald Trump (2ndR),and his wife Melania Trump (2ndL), are greeted by President Barack Obama and his wife first lady Michelle Obama, upon arriving at the White House on January 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Later in the morning President-elect Trump will be sworn in as the nation's 45th president during an inaugural ceremony at the U.S. Capitol.
President Barak Obama leaves the White House for the final time as President as the nation prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
President Barak Obama leaves the White House for the final time as President as the nation prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
President Barak Obama leaves the White House for the final time as President as the nation prepares for the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump on January 20, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Trump becomes the 45th President of the United States. (Photo by Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images)
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton arrive for the Presidential Inauguration of Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool
George and Laura Bush attend the inauguration ceremonies to swear in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President-elect Donald Trump's children look for the seats before the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
Former president Bill Clinton and former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton arrive at inauguration ceremonies swearing in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and her husband, former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L), greet U.S. Supreme Court Justices as they attend the presidential inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, (back row front), Stephen Breyer, (back row center), Samuel Alito, (back row, top), Chief Justice John Roberts (C), Anthony Kennedy (front row middle) and Clarence Thomas (front row top) REUTERS/Brian Snyder
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton (L) looks on as former U.S. President George W. Bush hugs justice Clarence Thomas (R) as they attend the presidential inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President-elect Donald Trump's children, from left, Tiffany, Donald Trump Jr. and Ivanka Trump arrive for the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Matt Rourke)
Former U.S. President George W. Bush arrives for the Presidential Inauguration of Trump at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Saul Loeb/Pool
The Presidential motorcade drives on Pennsylvania Avenue to the Capitol for the Inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Hillary and Bill Clinton attend the inauguration ceremonies to swear in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Former President George W. Bush and his wife Laura arrive for the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol for President-elect Donald Trump in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
President Barack Obama and Vice-President Joe Biden stand with Donald Trump's family during inauguration ceremonies swearing in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump and his wife Melania (in blue) stand for the singing of the U.S. National Anthem during Donald Trump's inauguration ceremony at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas - TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania attend the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Former Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets First lady Melania Trump as her husband Bill Clinton speaks with President Donald Trump during the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President Donald Trump and First lady Melania take their seats for the Capitol Hill luncheon following his inauguration in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
President Donald Trump's wife Melania Trump adjusts their son Barron's tie during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Newly sworn in President Donald Trump with his wife first lady Melania Trump, shakes hands with Hillary Clinton, as they arrive for the inaugural luncheon at the Statuary Hall in the Capitol, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)
Outgoing U.S. first lady Michelle Obama listens with outgoing President Barack Obama (L) to incoming President Donald Trump speak during inauguration ceremonies at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Donald Trump and former president Barack Obama stand on the steps of the Capitol in Washington (Rob Carr/Pool Photo via AP)
U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania stand with Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen Pence during the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
Former Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Hillary Clinton greets First lady Melania Trump as her husband Bill Clinton speaks with President Donald Trump during the Inaugural luncheon at the National Statuary Hall in Washington, U.S, January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
U.S. President-elect Donald Trump arrives on the platform to be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria
President Barack Obama greets (L-R) Melania, Tifffany and Ivanka Trump prior to the inauguration of Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Justice John Roberts (R) after taking the oath at inauguration ceremonies swearing in Trump as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

An hour before Mr Trump took to the stage in Washington, the sound of opening champagne bottles echoed in the vaulted hall of the former telegraph building.

The party was co-sponsored by the conservative Tsargrad TV channel, which is led by ultra-right ideologue Alexander Dugin.

"Yes, it's a holiday," said Dmitry Rode, a communications executive, with a glass of champagne in his hand.

"We all hope that relations between our countries and, more importantly, between our peoples will help to develop our economy. We're neighbours, we're just 50 kilometres away from each other."

Political analyst Stanislav Byshok said it is probably the first time it is someone else, not the US embassy, that is hosting an inauguration party.

"It's weird, but it's great, and for the first time ever Russians are applauding the victory of a US presidential candidate, it's a sign of the times," he said.

"For the past years we have had a very tense relationship so when a person who is perceived in Russia as being neutral to Russia and who is realistic about foreign policy was elected, it was greeted with joy."

Mr Trump's praise for Russian president Vladimir Putin has raised expectations that he could move to normalise ties, though Mr Trump has not articulated a clear policy and some of his cabinet nominees have made hawkish statements on Russia.

Dmitri Trenin, director of the Carnegie Moscow Centre, predicted that Russia will face a pragmatic but very tough partner in Mr Trump.

"Russia's potential is incomparable to that of the United States," he said, adding that Moscow will have to apply a lot of skills "to play from the position of weakness and not lose".

Despite the uncertainty, many Russians looked at Mr Trump's presidency with high hopes, and some nightclubs and bars staged parties to celebrate the inauguration.

At one Moscow nightclub, several dozen people began toasting Mr Trump late on Thursday.

Willi Tokarev, 82, a singer who emigrated to the US in the mid-1970s and later became a music legend in Russia, topped the entertainment bill with his song Trumplissimo America!

"Trump, Trump, symbol of America. Trump, Trump, he's really president," the mustachioed Tokarev sang on a tiny stage with Russian and American flags hanging behind him.

Across from the US embassy compound in central Moscow, the Russian army store put up a poster with Mr Trump's picture, offering inauguration day discounts of 10% for Americans.

There is a broad feeling in Russia's political and business elites that relations with Washington cannot get any worse.

"Russia hopes that under Trump there will be no ideology, no attempts to lecture about democracy, human rights and rights of smaller nations around its borders ... but primarily deal with economic issues in a businesslike way and even tacitly divide spheres of influence," said Alexei Arbatov, a senior researcher with the Institute of World Economy and International Relations, a government-funded Moscow think tank.

"Putin and Obama spoke different languages, they didn't understand one another. There is a hope that Trump and Putin will speak the same language, even though their positions may differ."

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Russian deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov voiced hope that Mr Trump will work with Mr Putin on solving the Ukrainian crisis and other problems, but warned against expectations of quick progress.

"Difficulties will remain," he said.

Andrei Kuzyaev, a Russian oil tycoon who now heads ER Telecom, a leading broadband provider, said he expects Mr Trump to "switch from political propaganda to action".

In the Kremlin-controlled parliament, many expressed similar expectations that Mr Trump will be driven by pragmatic interests.

Leonid Slutsky, the head of the foreign affairs committee in the lower house of parliament, expressed hope that Mr Trump will move to establish constructive ties with Moscow, but cautioned that there is no "magic button" to instantly achieve that.

"We expect a slow but steady revival of our relations," he said.

Many ordinary Russians appeared to share expectations of a thaw in US-Russian ties.

"I hope that everything will be good and we will be friends as always, as it was before," said 52-year-old Elena Tetyorkina, from Norilsk in the Far North.

Mr Medvedev, who served as president in 2008-2012 when Mr Putin had to shift into the premier's seat due to term limits, presided over a period of warmer ties during Mr Obama's first term.

Mr Medvedev sharply criticised the outgoing administration for ruining relations with Moscow by attempting to treat Russia like a "banana republic" and relying on "brute force and sheer pressure" in its dealings with Moscow.

"Conclusion: The Obama administration has destroyed relations between the United States and Russia, which are at their lowest point in decades," Mr Medvedev said.

He denounced the sanctions the US and its allies imposed on Russia over its action in Ukraine, saying that "it doesn't get any dumber than restricting entry to the United States for the leadership of the Russian parliament, ministers and businessmen, thus deliberately reducing the possibility of full-fledged contacts and closing the window to co-operation".

AP

Press Association

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