Who is Vladimir Putin. Summary life of the president of Russia

who is putin biography of russian president

It is not easy to reconstruct the biography of President of Russia Vladimir Putinin his fourth term after the last election of 2018, because on his life there is a lot of unfounded news circulating, spread by its supporters or by its detractors. What is certain is that Putin has been at the top of power in the Russian Federation for twenty years and is one of the main protagonists of international politics.

Born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1952former soldier and official of the KGB extension (the Soviet secret service), then politicit has become President in the far 2000. In this article we summarize the main stages of his life, trying to understand who Vladimir Putin is and to separate the fake news from solid news.

Biography of Vladimir Putin

Childhood and youth

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) on ​​October 7, 1952 from a family of modest means. During his adolescence he developed an attitude which he summarized thus in his autobiography of him: «The street in Leningrad, fifty years ago, taught me a lesson: if a fight is inevitable, strike first». Putin’s hot spirits calmed down thanks to the judowhich he began practicing as a teenager and which will accompany him throughout his life.

In 1970, he enrolled in law school and formed ties with a professor, Anatoly Sobchak, destined to become his political mentor. In the same years he took membership card of the Communist Partythe single party ofSoviet Union.

KGB agent

After graduation, which was received in 1975, Putin he was hired as an agent by the KGB, the Soviet secret service. For ten years he worked in Russia and in 1985 he was assigned to the headquarters of Dresdenin eastern Germany, one of the satellite countries of the USSR.

Putin under the KGB (c. 1980)
Putin under the KGB (c. 1980)

Not always reliable news circulates about Putin’s role in Germany. According to some biographers, he was busy especially to collect newspaper clippings, “collecting” the news that could be of some interest to the USSR. According to other rumors, Putin was in direct contact with Red Army Faction (RAF), the terrorist group, similar to the Red Brigades, to which Moscow allegedly gave weapons and funding to carry out attacks in West Germany. There is, however, no certain confirmation of the news.

The epilogue of Putin’s stay in Germany was traumatic. In 1989, demonstrations against the regime were held in many East German cities, and a demonstration also took place in Dresden. The protesters they stormed the Stasi headquartersthe infamous East German secret police, and then caught up the building that housed the KGB, with the intention of invading it. Putin was in the palace and, having come out with a pistol in his hand, he would persuade the crowd to disperse. The accounts of what he said to the demonstrators do not agree and it is not known how much truth there is in the episode, but it is certain that the KGB headquarters was not invaded.

The beginning of the political career

After the collapse of East Germany, Putin returned to Leningrad. As we know, at the end of 1991 the USSR ceased to exist. Putin, who had resigned from the KGB in August, found himself in trouble and, according to what he himself said, worked as an abusive taxi driver to make ends meet. However, he decided to get into politics and became one of closest collaborators by Sobchak, his old professor, who was elected mayor of St. Petersburg in 1991 (name assumed by Leningrad in the same year). In 1996, after Sobchak’s electoral defeat, Putin moved to Moscow and entered in the entourage of President Boris Yeltsinwho nominated him in 1998 director of the FSBthe most important Russian secret service.

The following year Yeltsin chose him as Prime Minister. It was a surprise, because Putin was not among the most prominent politicians. Yeltsin, who was facing serious corruption charges, probably chose him because he would allow him to leave the scene without being tried. On 31 December 1999, in fact, the president resigned and, according to the Constitution, in his place the prime minister took over.

The announcement of Yeltsin's resignation
The announcement of Yeltsin’s resignation

The presidency of the Russian Federation

Since 2000, Putin’s story has been confused with that of Russia. In the presidential elections held in March, he was confirmed to the presidency, which he has retained almost continuously to this daywith the exception of the years 2008-2012in which, unable to run for a third consecutive term, he was replaced by Dmitry Medvedev and assumed the post of prime minister, continuing to be Russia’s real strongman. In 2012 he was re-elected president and appointed Medvedev prime minister. Basically Putin’s 4 presidential terms were 2000-2004, 2004-2008, 2012-2018, 2018-ongoing. In 2008, the number of years of the presidential term increased from four to six.

Putin and Medvedev in 2008
Putin and Medvedev in 2008

Internal politics and war in Chechnya

In 2000, when Putin ascended to the presidency, Russia was in economic difficultiesdue to privatizations carried out without gradual steps, e on the floor international, because its weight in geopolitical dynamics had decreased. Putin strengthened the role of the state and limited the power of the oligarchs, the very rich entrepreneurs who heavily influenced political life. The line of him got gods positive results and the country’s economic conditions began to improve.

Russia's GDP from 1989 to 2016 (credit heycci)
Russia’s GDP since 1989 (credit: heycci)

One of the challenges the president faced in the early years was that of terrorism/separatism of Chechnya, a semi-autonomous republic forming part of Russia. On some occasions armed Chechen groups seized hostages and Putin, refusing to negotiate, brought in the army. The Chechen armed groups were defeated, but the military interventions resulted in the death of hundreds of hostages. There war against the separatistswhich began in Yeltsin’s time, was carried out with extreme brutality until its end in 2009.

Mass grave in Chechnya (crdit Natalia Medvedeva)
Mass grave in Chechnya (credit Natalia Medvedeva)

On the ideological level, Putin he denied communismbut he declared himself nostalgic for the USSRregretting its role as a great power.
Furthermore, the president immediately governed with the iron fist and, although elections are formally held in Russia by universal suffrage, dissent is hardly tolerated. Different journalists and opponents were killed (although it has never been proven that the order to eliminate them was given by the president), and others were arrested. In 2020, Putin also promoted a amendment to the Constitution which now allows him to be elected to the presidency for two more terms, which means that he could remain in power until 2036.

Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Politkovskaya, journalist killed in 2006

Over the years, it has also introduced laws that limit civil rights and affect minorities, especially the LGBT community.

Foreign policy, wars and Ukraine

In foreign policy Putin tried to reaffirm Russia’s role as a world power. In the first years of his presidency, relations with the West were relatively relaxed, but there were moments of tension, especially for the eastward enlargements of the BORN. Putin, moreover, also cultivated relations with other countries and in 2006 he was among the founders of the group dei bricthe partnership between Brazil, Russia, India and China (to which South Africa joined in 2010).

BRICS Summit 2019
BRICS Summit 2019

In recent years, Russia’s foreign policy has been more aggressive. Summarizing some of the most impactful operations, theannexation of Crimea and support for pro-Russian militias in Donbass in 2013-14, the intervention in Syria in 2015and the war againstUkraine of February 2022. According to the Russians, such actions were taken in response to US provocations, while in the West they are considered imperialist acts.

Cult of personality, private life and consent

Putin carefully cultivates the cult of his personality and proposes an image of himself from “hard”, being photographed in military attire, riding shirtless, etc.

Putin in a macho pose in 2007
Putin in a macho pose in 2007

On the private level, in 2013 it has divorced from his wife, Liudmila Skrebnevawhom he married in 1982, and has embarked on a relationship with gymnast Alina Kabaeva. There are also rumors that he has hoarded enormous richesbut the extent of his assets is not known.

Do Russians like Putin? Polls, included those conducted by Western agenciesindicate that the majority of the population appreciates his work, and while this opinion is certainly conditioned by the media, many Russians think that Putin is the right man to give the country its rightful place. The president’s popularity, however, stands decreasing after defeats suffered in Ukraine in the last months.

Who is Vladimir Putin. Summary life of the president of Russia