Meet Vladimir Putin, One Of The Most Powerful Leaders In The World Today (Photos)

Vladimir Putin

Who Exactly Is Vladimir Putin?

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

This is a question that has never been satisfactorily answered.

Since becoming Prime Minister and subsequently President of Russia in 1999–2000, Vladimir Putin has been the country’s most powerful political figure for more than a decade.

However, we have seen essentially no further information on Putin’s history given in the years since he came to power, except from what is revealed in early biographies.

Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

According to this, Vladimir Putin was born in the Soviet city of Leningrad in October 1952, and was the only child of his parents.

Putin grew up in Leningrad, where he learned sambo (a martial technique that combines judo and wrestling that was established by the Soviet Red Army) and subsequently judo.

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Putin studied law at Leningrad State University after high school, graduated in 1975, and promptly joined the KGB, the Soviet spy service.

After finishing a year of studies at the KGB’s academy in Moscow, he was deployed to Dresden, East Germany, in 1985. In 1990, he was summoned from Dresden to Leningrad, just as the Soviet Union was about to implode.

Putin served in the KGB as a case officer and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel during his time there. He returned to Leningrad University as a deputy to the vice rector in 1990–91 after serving in the spy service’s “active reserve.”

Anatoly Sobchak, one of his former legal teachers, left the university to become chairman of Leningrad’s city soviet, or council, and he became an adviser to him.

During Sobchak’s successful election campaign to become the first democratically elected mayor of what is now St. Petersburg, Putin assisted him.

After that, Putin was appointed deputy mayor of St. Petersburg and in charge of the city’s Committee for External Relations in June 1991. In August 1991, he formally resigned from the KGB.

After Mayor Sobchak lost his reelection campaign in 1996, Vladimir Putin traveled to Moscow to work in the Kremlin’s presidential property management department.

From there Putin was promoted to deputy chief of the presidential staff in March 1997.

Before being named head of the Russian Federal Security Service (the FSB, the successor to the KGB) in July 1998, he held a variety of other positions within the Kremlin.

Vladimir Putin was named one of Russia’s first deputy prime ministers and then acting prime minister by Russian President Boris Yeltsin a year later, in August 1999.

Yeltsin also hinted that Putin was his favored successor as president.

After Yeltsin resigned on December 31, 1999, Putin was named acting president of Russia. And In March 2000, he was formally elected as president.

Putin was president of Russia for two terms, from 2000 to 2004 and 2004 to 2008, before stepping down to become prime minister, in accordance with Russia’s constitutional limitation on three consecutive presidential terms.

Putin was re-elected president of Russia in March 2012 until 2018, according to a decree signed by then-President Dmitry Medvedev in December 2008 that increased the presidential term from four to six years.

Books and media articles have covered these fundamental facts. The sources are a little hazy on particular dates and the order in which Vladimir Putin’s professional career unfolded.

This is especially true during his KGB service, but it also applies to portions of his time as mayor of St. Petersburg, including how long he was formally a member of the KGB’s “active reserve.”

For such a prominent public figure, personal information on key childhood events, his 1983 marriage to Lyudmila, the birth of two daughters (Maria and Yekaterina) in 1985 and 1986, and his friendships with politicians and businessmen from Leningrad/St. Petersburg are remarkably scarce.

His family members, such as his wife, daughters, and other relatives, are noticeably missing from the public eye.

Information about him that was known at the start of his presidency has been repressed, altered, or lost in a tangle of conflicting and frequently contradictory stories awash in rumor and innuendo.

When it comes to Mr. Putin, there is very little material that is conclusive, verifiable, or trustworthy.

To Learn more about Vladimir Putin, visit Britannica.com.

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