Vladimir Putin: A Multifaceted Man
A well-known name in the political scenario of Russia is Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. Little was known about this man when he first entered politics in the early 1990s however; his indomitable
power shot him to fame within a short span of time. Today, the name Valdimir Vladimirovich Putin is invariably and inevitably associated with “Prime Minister of Russia,” “Chairman of United Russia,” and “President of Russia”.
His sheer monetary intelligence, political wisdom, and strong persona brought the country of Russia back from the point of economic breakdown and helped restore its rule of law. His cool attitude, his support for great causes for his people, and for wildlife, his undying patriotism has endeared him to us. He is rightly referred to as the modern man’s man and has much to teach to his contemporaries and to his followers.
Early Life and Education
Born on 7 October 1952, in Leningrad (now known as St. Petersburg), Russia, USSR to Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin and Maria Ivanovna Putina, Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin as he was named lived a simple life and grew up in a communal apartment. Of his early life he recalls, “I come from an ordinary family, and this is how I lived for a long time, nearly my whole life. I lived as an average, normal person and I have always maintained that connection.” The ancestry of Vladimir Putin is shrouded in mystery and beyond his grandfather Spiridon Ivanovich a chef, not much is known.
Putin started primary school in the year 1960 at Baskov Lane, School No. 193. After his 8th grade, he started High School No. 281, which only admitted students with exceptional grades and the only institution which had its main focus on chemistry. He completed his studies here in the year 1970. From a young age he showed great interest in sports and his seriousness made him an adept in sambo and judo.
Vladimir Putin went on to do his graduation from the International Law Branch at Leningrad State University and by the year 1975, he earned his degree. His final thesis was on International law and was titled “The Most Favoured Nation Trading Principle in International Law.” During his university period he was a part of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. He remained its member till December 1991 when the party was dissolved.
After his graduation, Vladimir Putin entered the KGB, the Committee for State Security in 1975. Following his one year training at 401st KGB school in Okhta, Leningrad, he went on to serve around 15 years as its foreign intelligence officer. During his tenure in the KGB he was stationed mostly in East Germany. He served the KGB until the year 1990.
The Start of Putin’s Political Career
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 made Putin retire from KGB, tagging the rank of lieutenant colonel along with him. He returned to Leningrad following which he became the Dean at the Leningrad State University for international affairs. Very soon he went on to become the advisor to Anatoily Sobchak, who was a liberal politician. When Sobchak became the mayor of Leningrad, Putin was appointed as his head of external relations and eventually became his first deputy mayor. Between the years 1994 to 1996, Putin held several government and political positions in Saint Petersburg.
In 1996, following Sobchak’s defeat, Putin resigned from his position and shifted to Moscow. Since his entry into Moscow, Putin went on to hold several eminent positions. To name a few, he became the Deputy Chief of the Presidential Property Management Department that was led by Pavel Borodin, Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff, Chief of the Main Control Directorate of the Presidential Property Management Department, and so on.
Putin’s First Premiership in 1999
Vladimir Putin was selected as one of the three “First Deputy Prime Ministers” on 9 August 1999. On the same day he was selected the acting Prime Minister of the Russian Government Federation by President Boris Yeltsin. After dismissing the then prime minister Sergey Stapashin and his cabinet, Yeltsin was on the lookout for a potential heir and hence, promoted Putin to the position. Of his tenure as a prime minister he recalls, “I thought then, if I can get through a year that will already be a good start. If I can do something to help save Russia from falling apart then this would be something to be proud of”.
His Tenure as Acting Presidency (1999-2000) and as First President (2000-2004)
After the unexpected resignation of Boris Yeltsin shortly before the start of 2000, Putin was appointed the acting president of the Russian Federation. With a promise to strengthen Russia and a firm determination, Putin won the March 2000 elections in the first round garnering 53% of the votes. It was on 7 May 2000, that Putin officially became the president of Russia.
He assumed control of 89 regions and republics in Russia, dividing them into seven federal districts and each led by a representative. It was during his tenureship that Russia saw an upsurge in the economy after an extended recession. He went on to crash the power of many unpopular media tycoons and financiers of Russia. He faced a tough time dealing with rebels in Chechnya. He stood against the US Pres George W. Bush’s decision to discard the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. During the 2001, September 11 attack on United States, Putin announced Russia’s support and cooperation in the US fight against terrorists and in the search-rescue operations. He however, opposed the US “war on terror”and their plan to use force to drive out Saddam Hussein’s government in Iraq.
Putin’s Second Presidential Term (2004-2008)
Putin’s popularity and his potentiality got him re-elected to a second presidential term in 2004. In what is termed as the first historic trip to Israel by a Kremlin leader, Vladimir Putin visited Israel for a talk with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In 2005 he met British Prime Minister Tony Blair and acknowledged an increased assistance and cooperation between Russia and Britain in their fight against terrorism. In December 2007, he was crowned Time Person of the Year.
The Constitution barred him from contesting the third term. His protégé Dmitry Medvedev was elected the president of Russia and two hours into his presidential term, the newly appointed president named Putin as his prime minister. On 24 September 2011, at the United Russia Congress in Moscow, Medvedev officially endorsed Putin for president in 2012.
Putin’s Third Presidential Term and his several Roles
On 4 March 2012, the presidential election was held in Russia amidst various complaints of fraud and protests. Despite facing a strong criticism, Putin was elected Russia’s president for the third term with 63.6% of the votes. The inauguration was held on 7 May 2012. After joining office, he appointed Medvedev as his prime minister.
During his third presidential term Putin signed a law effectively banning the adoption of Russian children by the US citizens. His decision triggered international controversy. Russia’s relation with United States strained further following Putin’s permission to grant shelter to Edward Snowden, the very man who is wanted by the United States for the leaking of information from the National Security Agency. Even his new proposal on the anti-gay laws upset many people.
Tension between the US and Russia rose further when US threatened to strike Syria if the chemical weapons that Syria had in their possession were not surrendered. Putin demanded restraint via an editorial published in The New York Times eventually leading to a negotiation between the US and Russia to destroy the supply of Syria’s chemical weapons.
There was a widespread controversy that the 2014 Olympics would be boycotted following the law against homosexuality. Of this Putin had said “We will do everything to make sure that athletes, fans and guests feel comfortable at the Olympic Games regardless of their ethnicity, race or sexual orientation”.
After the termination of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, on 3 March 2014, Putin dispatched Russian troops into Crimea, the Ukraine peninsula which was formerly a part of Russia until Nikita Khrushchev handed it over to Ukraine back in the year 1954. This came in the wake of a clash between the East and the West. This move of Russia raised concerned in several European countries and even in the United States who accused Russia of sending troops with the intention of engaging Ukraine in war. Putin defended his action claiming that the troops were sent to strengthen Russia’s military defenses in the country.
It was through a mutual friend that Vladimir Putin met Lyudmila Shkrebneva, his future wife. A Kaliningrad born, Shkrebneva was at the time an undergraduate student at the Leningrad State University and a former Aeroflot Flight Attendant.
The couple got married in the year 1983 and together they have two daughters. However, in what can be termed as an unfortunate turn of events, the marriage of Russia’s first couple came to an end after 30 years of togetherness. They announced in early June 2013, that they were ending their marriage.
Extra Curricular Activities
Putin is very much involved in sports, one of his favorite being martial art of judo. His training in sambo, a Soviet Union martial art began at a young age of 14. He then switched over to judo, a sport in which he is actively involved even today. He has several prizes to his credit, winning a number of competitions in his hometown that even included the senior championships of Leningrad in both judo and sambo. He is regarded to be the first leader to have entered the advanced level. He is the possessor of the red/white belt and was also honored Master of Sports in both sambo and judo.
Awards and Recognition
Putin was honored with the Grand Croix of the Legion d’honneur, considered the highest French decoration in 2006. He was rewarded Putin the King Abdul Aziz Award by Saudi King Abdullah in 2007, the Order of Zayed award by UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in 2007 and the Confucius Peace Prize by China International Peace Research Center in 2011. In addition, he was honored with the title Person of the Year by Time Magazine in 2007 and was again named the Person of the Year by Expert Magazine in the same year. The Kyrgyzstan parliament named a Tian Shan peak after him in 2011.
Years of Service: 1975 – 1991