About Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, Влади́мир Пу́тин
- Vladimir Putin Time Magazine Person of the Year '07 Video Interview
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Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin Влади́мир Влади́мирович Пу́тин; born 7 October 1952 is a Russian politician who served as the second President of the Russian Federation and is the current Prime Minister of Russia, as well as chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus.
He became acting President on 31 December 1999, when president Boris Yeltsin resigned in a surprising move. Putin won the 2000 presidential election; in 2004 he was re-elected for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008, and in 2012 Vladimir Putin overwhelmingly won a six-year term and was re-elected to the presidency for a third non-consecutive term.
Putin brought peace and progress to Russia, when he ended the crisis of 1990s and restored the territorial integrity of Russia and established a strong "power vertical". Putin often supports an outdoor, sporting, tough guy image in the media, demonstrating his physical capabilities and taking part in unusual or dangerous acts, such as extreme sports and interaction with wild animals. A judoka, samboist and karateka, several times Champion of Leningrad in judo and sambo in his youth, Putin has played a major role in development of sport in Russia, notably, helping the city of Sochi to win the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
I looked the man in the eye. I found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy.
We had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul; a man deeply committed to his country and the best interests of his country.
And I appreciated so very much the frank dialogue.
President George W. Bush re President Vladimir Putin. (16 June 2001)
Six interviews conducted by Russian journalists (and translated into English by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick), First Person is a book-length Q&A session in which Russian president Vladimir Putin discusses his childhood, his life as a spy, and his surprisingly rapid rise as a politician in the 1990s.
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Vladimir Putin was born on October 7, 1952, in Leningrad, RSFSR, USSR (now Saint Petersburg, Russian Federation), to parents Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin (1911–1999) and Maria Ivanovna Putina (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.
Two elder brothers were born in the mid-1930s; one died within a few months of birth, while the second succumbed to diphtheria during the siege of Leningrad. His paternal grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Putin (1879–1965), was employed at Vladimir Lenin's dacha at Gorki as a chef, and after Lenin's death in 1924, he continued to work for Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya. He would later work for Joseph Stalin when the Soviet leader visited one of his dachas in the Moscow region. Spiridon later was employed at a dacha belonging to the Moscow City Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, at which the young Putin would visit him.
In the early 1980s Putin met and married his wife, Lyudmila, a former teacher of French and English. In 1984 he was selected to attend the prestigious Red Banner Institute of Intelligence, where he mastered German and also learned English in preparation for an international assignment, which he had coveted for some time. In 1985 the KGB sent him to Dresden, East Germany, where he lived undercover as Mr. Adamov, the director of the Soviet-German House of Friendship, a social and cultural club in Leipzig. According to Wines, he spoke so fluently that he could easily mimic regional dialects. Putin appeared to genuinely enjoy socializing with Germans, unlike many other KGB agents, and respected the German trait of discipline.
What Putin did in East Germany has been a matter of some speculation. Wines wrote, "Officially - and perhaps actually - his task was to track the political leanings of East Germans and their contacts with the West." John Lloyd stated in the New York Times Magazine, "His real task was to recruit agents to supply technical and economic information: he may have been involved in setting up a KGB network to prepare for the collapse of East Germany." Insight on the News reporter J. Michael Waller, meanwhile, claimed that Putin oversaw the notorious Stasi secret police force during the 1980s. Around the time Putin went to East Germany, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was beginning to introduce economic and social reforms. Putin was apparently a firm believer in the changes. In 1989 the Berlin Wall, separating East from West Germany, was torn down and the two began to unite. Though Putin supposedly had known that this was inevitable, he was disappointed that it occurred amid chaos and that the Soviet leadership had not managed it better.
In 1990 Putin returned to Leningrad and took a job in the international affairs department at his alma mater, screening foreign students. However, that was a cover for his continuing intelligence work. Before long, one of his former university professors, Anatoly Sobchak, who had become the first mayor of St. Petersburg (the former Leningrad), asked him to join his administration. In 1991, just as the Soviet Union was beginning to be unraveled, Putin resigned from the KGB at the rank of colonel, in order to get involved in politics. He allegedly quit because he wanted to be part of the important changes going on in Russia at the time, or perhaps because many of his colleagues in the KGB were persecuted after the fall of the Berlin Wall. In any event, he became the mayor's external affairs aide and, in 1994 became deputy mayor. However, a Newsweek report suggested that he might have been an infiltrator there as well.
Due to Putin's secretive background as a KGB agent, information was scarce. Many articles focused on the fact that, despite his popularity, few even in his own nation knew details of his background or where he stood on issues. His history as a spy caused many Westerners and some Russians as well to question whether he should be feared as a foe of democracy. In addition, Christian Caryl wrote in U.S. News and World Report, "Putin's watch at the FSB (from July 1998 until August 1999) coincided, in part, with a series of high-profile prosecutions of environmental activists accused of 'betraying state secrets' (actually publicizing the lackadaisical disposal of dangerous nuclear waste by the Russian military)."
In Putin's first speech as acting president, he promised, "Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, freedom of the press, the right to private property these basic principles of a civilized society will be protected," according to a Newsweek report. In addition,
Putin, a soft-spoken and stone-faced man, keeps his personal life very private. He and his wife have two daughters, Katya and Maria, who were both in their early teens when he became president. Putin has a black belt in judo and enjoys running. He does not smoke, and does not drink alcohol, or at least drinks so rarely that it appears that way. In early 2000, an American publishing company announced that in May it would release an English-language translation of his memoirs, First Person, which was banned from publication in Russia until after the March 26 presidential election.
- Business Week, April 24, 2000, p. 151.
- Economist, January 8, 2000, p. 19; January 15, 2000, p. 49.
- Insight on the News, September 6, 1999, pp. 6, 18; January 31, 2000, p. 14; February 14, 2000, p. 20.
- Maclean's, January 10, 2000, p. 25; January 17, 2000, p. 46.
- Nation, April 17, 2000, p. 3.
- Newsweek, January 10, 2000, p. 52; January 17, 2000, p. 30.
- New Yorker, December 20, 1999, p. 33.
- New York Times, January 1, 2000, p. A11; January 10, 2000, p.A8; January 17, 2000, p. A6; January 20, 2000, p. A12; February 20, 2000, p. A1; March 8, 2000, p. A5; March 20, 2000, p. C14; March 22, 2000, p. A1; March 24, 2000, p. A1; March 27, 2000, p. A1; March 28, 2000, p. A11; April 15, 2000, p. A1; May 8, 2000, p. A1.
- New York Times Magazine, March 19, 2000, p. 62.
- People, February 28, 2000, p. 125.
- Time, December 31, 1999, p. 210; January 1, 2000, p. 90.
- U.S. News and World Report, January 3, 2000, p. 26.
- Wall Street Journal, December 20, 1999, p. A18; January 24, 2000, p. A26.
- "Newsmakers: Vladimir Putin," ABC News web site, ABC NEWS(May 3, 2000).
- "Vladimir Putin: Spy Turned Politician," BBC News Online web site, January 1, 2000, BBC(May 3, 2000).