Vladimir Putin


Putin was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, President from 2000 to 2008, and again Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012. During his second term as Prime Minister, he was the Chairman of the ruling party, United Russia Party.

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Leningrad, now Sankt Petersburg and was the only child of a war veteran and of a working mother which were living on the outskirts of Leningrad. He grew up in a “communal” apartment, with two other families, a common practice at that time the Soviet Union. As a teenager, Putin has worked at the radio station of the school he learned in, where it seems that he was broadcasting the music of the Beatles and other rock groups from the West. Photographer Platon, author of the famous “Time” magazine cover with Putin in 2007, claimed that the Russian President was a fan of Paul McCartney and “Yesterday” was his favorite song.

From a young age, Vladimir Putin became interested in judo. He became champion in judo at his university in 1974. A former finance minister of Russia believed that Putin’s love for judo said something about his strategy on foreign policy. “Unlike a chess player, a judoka does not expect a move by the opponent. His strategy is to wait and see when he gets the chance to perform a single shot, then he withdraws. A successful judoka must anticipate his opponents’ hits, take a quick decision and put them down”, wrote the Russian official in the “Moscow Times”.

In the 1990’s, Vladimir Putin was the subject of a scandal, being investigated “for granting preferential import and export licenses.” Putin was occupied by an exchange of goods worth 100 million $. Russia had to export materials to receive in exchange the needed food for the citizens of Sankt Petersburg. Although the materials were exported, the city residents have not received the promised food. It seemed that Vladimir Putin was the one who signed the documents, but the Kremlin denied it.

In 1996, Putin took his family and moved to Moscow, where he quickly climbed the ascension ladder. After several posts held, in 1998 he became leader of the FSB, the former KGB. “In July 1998, Yeltsin appointed Putin at the head of the FSB. It was a function that the president back then had only granted to the human in which he had the greatest confidence,” wrote Newsweek

In August 1999, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin as Prime Minister. A month later, Putin’s popularity was up to 2%. He was the 5th premier in two years and nobody believed Yeltsin when he claimed that Putin will be his successor. Everyone expected Yevgeny Primakov to be the next Russian president because he had an impressive career behind and was everybody’s friend “from Madeleine Albright to Saddam Hussein.” But to everyone’s surprise, Yeltsin announced his resignation and appointed Vladimir Putin as his successor in 1999. Many believed that Yeltsin did so to defend from him. The war in Chechnya was intensifying, and the president’s popularity dropped a lot.

In his first televised interview as president of Russia, Putin promised freedom of the press, freedom of expression and the right to private property. “I want to warn that any violation of the laws of the country and of the constitution will be punished. The freedom of speech, freedom of the media and the right to property are the fundamental principles of a civilized society which will be defended by the Russian state,” Putin said in the televised interview of 1999.

In the following years, Putin has won the reputation of a “man of action” by the way he managed the Second Chechen War and the hostage crisis in a Moscow theater in 2002. The Russian President refused to negotiate with the 40 military Chechens and after the police action after three days of siege, 129 of the 912 hostages died. The population continued to support Putin at a rate of 83%. In 2004, Putin was re-elected for a second term. He focused on domestic issues, but has become increasingly criticized for censoring the local media.

The financial crisis has shown how dependent the Russian economy was on oil and gas, as well as how the interconnection between the industry and the political strategy of the country were, according to Brookings Institute. Going forward in 2012, Vladimir Putin ran again for the mandate of president of Russia, which he won with a percentage of 63%. He was chosen this time for a term of 6 years instead of 4.

Two years later, Vladimir Putin has attracted the opprobrium of all countries after he decided the annexation of Crimea, following a crisis triggered by the ousting of Ukraine President, Viktor Yanukovich. In addition, the West accused Putin that he supported the pro-Russian separatist movement in eastern Ukraine, which had already led to the killing of over 5.000 people within one year since the start of the conflict. “Nobody knows what will be Vladimir Putin’s next move, but given the fact that he takes into account a 4th term, we might follow his action at least until 2024.”

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