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"Putin" redirects here. For other uses, see Putin (surname).
This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Vladimirovich and the family name is Putin.
|2nd and 4th President of Russia|
7 May 2012
|Prime Minister||Viktor Zubkov
|Preceded by||Dmitry Medvedev|
7 May 2000 – 7 May 2008
Acting: 31 December 1999 – 7 May 2000
|Prime Minister||Mikhail Kasyanov
|Preceded by||Boris Yeltsin|
|Succeeded by||Dmitry Medvedev|
|Prime Minister of Russia|
8 May 2008 – 7 May 2012
|Preceded by||Viktor Zubkov|
|Succeeded by||Dmitry Medvedev|
9 August 1999 – 7 May 2000
Acting: 9 August 1999 – 16 August 1999
|Preceded by||Sergei Stepashin|
|Succeeded by||Mikhail Kasyanov|
|Leader of the United Russia Party|
1 January 2008 – 30 May 2012
|Preceded by||Boris Gryzlov|
|Succeeded by||Dmitry Medvedev|
|Director of the Federal Security Service|
25 July 1998 – 29 March 1999
|Preceded by||Nikolay Kovalyov|
|Succeeded by||Nikolai Patrushev|
|Born||Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin
7 October 1952
Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
|Political party||Communist Party of the Soviet Union (1975-1991)
Our Home-Russia (1995–1999)
Independent (1991–1995; 2001–2008)
United Russia (2008–present)
|People's Front for Russia (2011–present)|
|Spouse(s)||Lyudmila Putina (m. 1983–2014)|
|Alma mater||Leningrad State University|
|Years of service||1975–1991|
For 16 years Putin served as an officer in the KGB, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before he retired to enter politics in his native Saint Petersburg in 1991. He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President Boris Yeltsin's administration where he rose quickly, becoming Acting President on 31 December 1999 when Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned. Putin won the subsequent 2000 presidential election and was reelected in 2004. Because of constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term in 2008. Dmitry Medvedev won the 2008 presidential election and appointed Putin as Prime Minister, beginning a period of so-called "tandemocracy". In September 2011, following a change in the law extending the presidential term from four years to six, Putin announced that he would seek a third, non-consecutive term as President in the 2012 presidential election, an announcement which led to large-scale protests in many Russian cities. He won the election in March 2012 and is serving a six-year term.
Many of Putin's actions are regarded by the domestic opposition and foreign observers as undemocratic. The 2011 Democracy Index stated that Russia was in "a long process of regression [that] culminated in a move from a hybrid to an authoritarian regime" in view of Putin's candidacy and flawed parliamentary elections. In 2014, Russia was excluded from the G8 group as a result of its annexation of Crimea.
During Putin's first premiership and presidency (1999–2008), real incomes increased by a factor of 2.5, real wages more than tripled; unemployment and poverty more than halved, and the Russians' self-assessed life satisfaction rose significantly. Putin's first presidency was marked by high economic growth: the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, seeing GDP increase by 72% in PPP (as for nominal GDP, 600%). As Russia's president, Putin and the Federal Assembly passed into law a flat income tax of 13%, a reduced profits tax, and new land and legal codes. As Prime Minister, Putin oversaw large-scale military and police reform. His energy policy has affirmed Russia's position as an energy superpower. Putin supported high-tech industries such as the nuclear and defence industries. A rise in foreign investment contributed to a boom in such sectors as the automotive industry. Putin has cultivated a strongman image and is a pop cultural icon in Russia with many commercial products named after him.
Ancestry, early life and educationLeningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (modern day Saint Petersburg, Russia), to parents Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin (1911–1999) and Maria Ivanovna Putina (née Shelomova; 1911–1998). His mother was a factory worker, and his father was a conscript in the Soviet Navy, where he served in the submarine fleet in the early 1930s, and later served on the front lines in the demolition battalion of the NKVD during World War II and was severely wounded in 1942. Two elder brothers, Viktor and Albert, were born in the mid-1930s; Albert died within a few months of birth, while Viktor succumbed to diphtheria during the siege of Leningrad in World War II. Vladimir Putin's paternal grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Putin (1879–1965), was a chef who at one time or another cooked for Vladimir Lenin, Lenin's wife Nadezhda Krupskaya, and on several occasions for Joseph Stalin. Putin's maternal grandmother was killed by the German occupiers of Tver region in 1941, and his maternal uncles disappeared at the war front.
The ancestry of Vladimir Putin has been described as a mystery with no records surviving of any ancestors of any people with the surname "Putin" beyond his grandfather Spiridon Ivanovich. His autobiography, Ot Pervogo Litsa (English: In the First Person), which is based on Putin's interviews, speaks of humble beginnings, including early years in a communal apartment, shared by several families, in Leningrad. Some researchers speculate that Putin´s ancestry might be linked to Putyanin clan, "one of the oldest clans in the Russian history" with links to all the royal families of Europe.
Pioneers, largely because of his rowdy behavior. At 12 years of age he started taking sport seriously in the form of sambo and then judo. In his youth, Putin was eager to emulate the intelligence officer characters played on the Soviet screen by actors such as Vyacheslav Tikhonov and Georgiy Zhzhonov.
Putin graduated from the International Law branch of the Law Department of the Leningrad State University in 1975, writing his final thesis on international law. His thesis was titled "The Most Favored Nation Trading Principle in International Law". While at university he had to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, and remained a member until the party was dissolved in December 1991. Also at the University he met Anatoly Sobchak who later played an important role in Putin's career. Anatoly Sobchak was at the time an Assistant Professor and lectured Putin's class on Business Law (khozyaystvennoye pravo).
KGB careerKGB in 1975 upon graduation, and underwent a year's training at the 401st KGB school in Okhta, Leningrad. He then went on to work briefly in the Second Chief Directorate (counter-intelligence) before he was transferred to the First Chief Directorate, where among his duties was the monitoring of foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad.
From 1985 to 1990, the KGB stationed Putin in Dresden, East Germany. During that time, Putin was assigned to Directorate S, the illegal intelligence-gathering unit (the KGB's classification for agents who used falsified identities) where he was given cover as a translator and interpreter. One of Putin's jobs was to coordinate efforts with the Stasi to track down and recruit foreigners in Dresden, usually those who were enrolled at the Dresden University of Technology, in the hopes of sending them undercover in the United States. Despite this, Putin biographer Masha Gessen disputes the "KGB Spymaster" image that has been built around him and instead says that Dresden was essentially a backwater job that Putin himself resented:
Putin and his colleagues were reduced mainly to collecting press clippings, thus contributing to the mountains of useless information produced by the KGB. Former agents estimate they spent three-quarters of their time writing reports. Putin's biggest success in his stay in Dresden appears to have been in...[contacting] a U.S. Army Sergeant, who sold them an unclassified Manual for 800 marks.Following the collapse of the communist East German government, Putin was recalled to the Soviet Union and returned to Leningrad, where in June 1991 he assumed a position with the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov. In his new position, Putin maintained surveillance on the student body and kept an eye out for recruits. It was during his stint at the university that Putin grew reacquainted with his former professor Anatoly Sobchak, then mayor of Leningrad.
Putin resigned from the active state security services with the rank of lieutenant colonel on 20 August 1991 (with some attempts to resign made earlier), on the second day of the KGB-supported abortive putsch against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev. Putin later explained his decision: "As soon as the coup began, I immediately decided which side I was on", though he also noted that the choice was hard because he had spent the best part of his life with "the organs". In 1999, he described the Soviet Union as "a blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization."
Main article: Political career of Vladimir Putin
Saint Petersburg administration (1990–1996)In May 1990, Putin was appointed as an advisor on international affairs to Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. Then, on 28 June 1991, he became head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Petersburg Mayor's Office, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments. That Committee headed by Putin also registered business ventures.
Less than one year later, Putin was investigated by the city legislative council, and the investigators concluded that Putin had understated prices and permitted the export of metals valued at $93 million, in exchange for foreign food aid that never arrived. Despite the investigators' recommendation that Putin be fired, Putin remained head of the Committee for External Relations until 1996. From 1994 to 1996, Putin held several other political and governmental positions in Saint Petersburg.
Early Moscow career (1996–1999)Presidential Property Management Department (other languages) headed by Pavel Borodin. He occupied this position until March 1997. During his tenure Putin was responsible for the foreign property of the state and organized transfer of the former assets of the Soviet Union and Communist Party to the Russian Federation.
On 26 March 1997, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin deputy chief of Presidential Staff, which he remained until May 1998, and chief of the Main Control Directorate of the Presidential Property Management Department (until June 1998). His predecessor on this position was Alexei Kudrin and the successor was Nikolai Patrushev, both future prominent politicians and Putin's associates.
On 27 June 1997, at the Saint Petersburg Mining Institute, guided by rector Vladimir Litvinenko, Putin defended his Candidate of Science dissertation in economics, titled "The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations". This exemplified the custom in Russia for a rising young official to write a scholarly work in midcareer. When Putin later became president, the dissertation became a target of plagiarism accusations by fellows at the Brookings Institution; though the allegedly plagiarised study was referenced, the Brookings fellows felt sure it constituted plagiarism albeit perhaps not "intentional". The dissertation committee denied the accusations.
On 25 May 1998, Putin was appointed First Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff for regions, replacing Viktoriya Mitina; and, on 15 July, was appointed Head of the Commission for the preparation of agreements on the delimitation of power of regions and the federal center attached to the President, replacing Sergey Shakhray. After Putin's appointment, the commission completed no such agreements, although during Shakhray's term as the Head of the Commission there were 46 agreements signed. Later, after becoming president, Putin canceled all those agreements.
On 25 July 1998, Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin head of the FSB (one of the successor agencies to the KGB), the position Putin occupied until August 1999. He became a permanent member of the Security Council of the Russian Federation on 1 October 1998 and its Secretary on 29 March 1999.
First Premiership (1999)On 9 August 1999, Vladimir Putin was appointed one of three First Deputy Prime Ministers, and later on that day was appointed acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by President Boris Yeltsin. Yeltsin also announced that he wanted to see Putin as his successor. Still later on that same day, Putin agreed to run for the presidency.
On 16 August, the State Duma approved his appointment as Prime Minister with 233 votes in favour (vs. 84 against, 17 abstained), while a simple majority of 226 was required, making him Russia's fifth PM in fewer than eighteen months. On his appointment, few expected Putin, virtually unknown to the general public, to last any longer than his predecessors. He was initially regarded as a Yeltsin loyalist; like other prime ministers of Boris Yeltsin, Putin did not choose ministers himself, his cabinet being determined by the presidential administration.
Yeltsin's main opponents and would-be successors were already campaigning to replace the ailing president, and they fought hard to prevent Putin's emergence as a potential successor. Putin's law-and-order image and his unrelenting approach to the Second Chechen War, soon combined to raise Putin's popularity and allowed him to overtake all rivals.
While not formally associated with any party, Putin pledged his support to the newly formed Unity Party, which won the second largest percentage of the popular vote (23.3%) in the December 1999 Duma elections, and in turn he was supported by it.
Acting Presidency (1999–2000)Constitution of Russia, Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation. On assuming this role, Putin went on a previously scheduled visit to Russian troops in Chechnya.
The first Presidential Decree that Putin signed, on 31 December 1999, was titled "On guarantees for former president of the Russian Federation and members of his family". This ensured that "corruption charges against the outgoing President and his relatives" would not be pursued. Later, on 12 February 2001, Putin signed a similar federal law which replaced the decree of 1999.
While his opponents had been preparing for an election in June 2000, Yeltsin's resignation resulted in the Presidential elections being held within three months, on 26 March 2000; Putin won in the first round with 53% of the vote.
First Presidential term (2000–2004)
See also: Russian oligarchsThe first major challenge to Putin's popularity came in August 2000, when he was criticized for his alleged mishandling of the Kursk submarine disaster. That criticism was largely because it was several days before he returned from vacation, and several more before he visited the scene.
Minister of Finance Mikhail Kasyanov as his Prime minister.
Between 2000 and 2004, Putin set about reconstruction of the impoverished condition of the country, apparently winning a power-struggle with the Russian oligarchs, reaching a 'grand-bargain' with them. This bargain allowed the oligarchs to maintain most of their powers, in exchange for their explicit support – and alignment with – his government. A new group of business magnates, such as Gennady Timchenko, Vladimir Yakunin, Yury Kovalchuk, Sergey Chemezov, with close personal ties to Putin, also emerged.
Many in the Russian press and in the international media warned that the death of some 130 hostages in the special forces' rescue operation during the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis would severely damage President Putin's popularity. However, shortly after the siege had ended, the Russian president was enjoying record public approval ratings – 83% of Russians declared themselves satisfied with Putin and his handling of the siege.
A few months before elections, Putin fired Prime Minister Kasyanov's cabinet and appointed Mikhail Fradkov to his place. Sergey Ivanov became the first civilian in Russia to take the Defense Minister position.
In 2003, a referendum was held in Chechnya adopting a new constitution which declares the Republic as a part of Russia. Chechnya has been gradually stabilized with the establishment of the parliamentary elections and a regional government.
Throughout the war, Russia severely disabled the Chechen rebel movement. However, sporadic violence continued to occur throughout the North Caucasus.
Second Presidential term (2004–2008)Putin was elected to the presidency for a second term, receiving 71% of the vote. The Beslan school hostage crisis took place in September 2004, in which hundreds died. In response, Putin took a variety of administrative measures.
In 2005, the National Priority Projects were launched to improve Russia's health care, education, housing and agriculture.
The continued criminal prosecution of Russia's then richest man, President of YUKOS company Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for fraud and tax evasion was seen by the international press as a retaliation for Khodorkovsky's donations to both liberal and communist opponents of the Kremlin. The government said that Khodorkovsky was corrupting a large segment of the Duma to prevent tax code changes such as taxes on windfall profits and closing offshore tax evasion vehicles. Khodorkovsky was arrested, Yukos was bankrupted and the company's assets were auctioned at below-market value, with the largest share acquired by the state company Rosneft. The fate of Yukos was seen in the West as a sign of a broader shift of Russia towards a system of state capitalism. This was underscored in July 2014 when shareholders of Yukos were awarded $50 billion in compensation by the Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague.
A study by Bank of Finland's Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT) in 2008 found that state intervention had made a positive impact on the corporate governance of many companies in Russia: the governance was better in companies with state control or with a stake held by the government.
Putin was criticized in the West and also by Russian liberals for what many observers considered a wide-scale crackdown on media freedom in Russia. On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who exposed corruption in the Russian army and its conduct in Chechnya, was shot in the lobby of her apartment building. The death of Politkovskaya triggered an outcry in Western media, with accusations that, at best, Putin has failed to protect the country's new independent media. When asked about the Politkovskaya murder in his interview with the German TV channel ARD, Putin said that her murder brings much more harm to the Russian authorities than her writing. By 2012 the performers of the murder were arrested and named Boris Berezovsky and Akhmed Zakayev as possible clients.
In 2007, "Dissenters' Marches" were organized by the opposition group The Other Russia, led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov and national-Bolshevist leader Eduard Limonov. Following prior warnings, demonstrations in several Russian cities were met by police action, which included interfering with the travel of the protesters and the arrests of as many as 150 people who attempted to break through police lines. The Dissenters' Marches have received little support among the Russian general public, according to polls.
On 12 September 2007, Putin dissolved the government upon the request of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. Fradkov commented that it was to give the President a "free hand" in the run-up to the parliamentary election. Viktor Zubkov was appointed the new prime minister.
In December 2007, United Russia won 64.24% of the popular vote in their run for State Duma according to election preliminary results. United Russia's victory in December 2007 elections was seen by many as an indication of strong popular support of the then Russian leadership and its policies.
In his last days in office Putin was reported to have taken a series of steps to re-align the regional bureaucracy to make the governors report to the prime minister rather than the president. Putin's office explained that "the changes... bear a refining nature and do not affect the essential positions of the system. The key role in estimating the effectiveness of activity of regional authority still belongs to the President of the Russian Federation."
Second Premiership (2008–2012)
Main article: Vladimir Putin's Second CabinetPutin was barred from a third term by the Constitution. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was elected his successor. On 8 May 2008, only a day after handing the presidency to Medvedev, Putin was appointed Prime Minister of Russia, maintaining his political dominance.
The Great Recession hit the Russian economy especially hard, interrupting the flow of cheap Western credit and investments. This coincided with tension in relationships with the EU and the US following the 2008 South Ossetia war, in which Russia defeated NATO ally Georgia.
However, the large financial reserves, accumulated in the Stabilization Fund of Russia in the previous period of high oil prices, alongside the strong management helped the country to cope with the crisis and resume economic growth since mid-2009. The Russian government's anti-crisis measures have been praised by the World Bank, which said in its Russia Economic Report from November 2008: "prudent fiscal management and substantial financial reserves have protected Russia from deeper consequences of this external shock. The government's policy response so far—swift, comprehensive, and coordinated—has helped limit the impact."
 The other named achievement was the stabilisation of the size of Russia's population between 2008–2011 following the long period of demographic collapse started in the 1990s.
At the United Russia Congress in Moscow on 24 September 2011, Medvedev officially proposed that Putin stand for the Presidency in 2012, an offer which Putin accepted. Given United Russia's near-total dominance of Russian politics, many observers believed that Putin was all but assured of a third term. The move was expected to see Medvedev stand on the United Russia ticket in the parliamentary elections in December, with a goal of becoming Prime Minister at the end of his presidential term. During the 2012 presidential campaign, Putin published 7 articles to present his vision for the future.
After the parliamentary elections on 4 December 2011, tens of thousands Russians engaged in protests against alleged electoral fraud, the largest protests in Putin's time; protesters criticized Putin and United Russia and demanded annulment of the election results. However, those protests, organized by the leaders of the Russian "non-systemic opposition", sparked the fear of a colour revolution in society, and a number of "anti-Orange" counter-protests (the name alludes to the Orange Revolution in Ukraine) and rallies of Putin supporters were carried out, surpassing in scale the opposition protests.
Third Presidential term (2012–present)2012 Russian presidential elections in the first round, with 63.6% of the vote. While efforts to make the elections transparent were publicized, including the usage of webcams in polling stations, the vote was criticized by the Russian opposition and by international observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for procedural irregularities.
Anti-Putin protests took place during and directly after the presidential campaign. The most notorious protest was the Pussy Riot performance on 21 February, and subsequent trial. Also, an estimated 8,000–20,000 protesters gathered in Moscow on 6 May, when eighty people were injured in confrontations with police, and 450 were arrested, with another 120 arrests taking place the following day.
inaugurated in the Kremlin on 7 May 2012. On his first day as President, Putin issued 14 Presidential decrees, which are sometimes called the "May Decrees" by the media, including a lengthy one stating wide-ranging goals for the Russian economy. Other decrees concerned education, housing, skilled labor training, relations with the European Union, the defense industry, inter-ethnic relations, and other policy areas dealt with in Putin's program articles issued during the presidential campaign.
In 2012 and 2013, Putin and the United Russia party backed stricter legislation against the LGBT community, in Saint Petersburg, Archangelsk and Novosibirsk; a law against "homosexual propaganda" (which prohibits such symbols as the rainbow flag as well as published works containing homosexual content) was adopted by the State Duma in June 2013. Responding to international concerns about Russia's legislation, Putin asked critics to note that the law was a "ban on the propaganda of pedophilia and homosexuality" and he stated that homosexual visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics should "leave the children in peace" but denied there was any "professional, career or social discrimination" against homosexuals in Russia. He publicly hugged openly bisexual ice-skater Ireen Wust during the games.
Also in June 2013, Putin attended a televised rally of the All-Russia People's Front where he was elected head of the movement, which was set up in 2011. According to journalist Steve Rosenberg, the movement is intended to "reconnect the Kremlin to the Russian people" and one day, if necessary, replace the increasingly unpopular United Russia party that currently backs Putin.
Intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea
Main article: 2014 Russian military intervention in Ukraine2014 Ukrainian revolution, exiled Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych put into writing his request that Putin initiate Russia's use of military forces "to establish legitimacy, peace, law and order, stability and defending the people of Ukraine". On the same day, Putin requested and received authorization from the Russian Parliament to deploy Russian troops to Ukraine in response to the crisis. Russian troops accordingly mobilized throughout Crimea and the southeast of Ukraine. By 2 March, Russian troops had complete control over Crimea. On 16 March 2014, The New York Times reported the results of a Crimean referendum: " an overwhelming majority of Crimeans voted on Sunday to secede from Ukraine and join Russia…forcing the United States and its European allies to decide how swiftly and forcefully to levy threatened sanctions against Russian officials including top aides to President Vladimir V. Putin."
Subsequently, unrest increased in eastern Ukraine apart from Crimea. On 17 April 2014, The Wall Street Journal reported: "Russian President Vladimir Putin said Thursday he hoped not to send Russian troops into Ukraine but didn't rule it out, accusing the Kiev government of committing 'a serious crime' by using the military to quell unrest. Ukrainian and Russian diplomats, backed by the U.S. and Europe, agreed to take steps to turn down the heat in the escalating standoff with pro-Russian militias, even as President Vladimir Putin showed no sign of backing down.” The New York Times added that Putin has said that he reserves the right to use armed force to protect ethnic Russians in "Novorossiya".
On 7 May 2014, The New York Times reported: "Putin Announces Pullback from Ukraine Border" after discussions with Switzerland's Dieter Burkhalter in an attempt to de-escalate mounting tensions of Russian troop massing on the border of southeast Ukraine during and following the Crimean intervention. In a reference to the 25 May 2014 presidential elections in Ukraine, Putin indicated that the Ukrainian elections were a step in the right direction. Putin pledged to respect the result of Sunday's Ukrainian election and also maintained that Russia wanted to continue negotiations with the West over Ukraine, but that Russia's offer to do so was turned down by the West. Putin's main concern expressed in St Petersburg on 23 May 2014 was with Ukraine's failure for pay its large financial debts to Russia, with Putin referring to the $3 billion loaned to Ukraine by Russia before Yanokovych was ousted. On 14 August 2014, on a visit to Crimea, Putin called for calm and efforts to put an end to the conflict in Ukraine. "We must calmly, with dignity and effectively, build up our country, not fence it off from the outside world," he told Russian ministers and Crimean parliamentarians. On 26 August 2014 Putin met with Ukraine President Petro Poroshenko in Minsk where he expressed a willingness to discuss the situation while calling on Ukraine not to escalate its offensive. Poroshenko responded by demanding Russia halt its supplying of arms to separatist fighters. He said his country wanted a political compromise and promised the interests of Russian-speaking people in eastern Ukraine would be considered.