Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer who is serving as the current president of Russia since 2012, previously being in the office from 1999 until 2008. He was also Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born on October 7, 1952 in Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union (what is now Saint Petersburg). His mother Maria was a factory worker, and his father Vladimir Spiridonovich was a conscript in the Soviet Navy. He began practicing the martial arts of Judo and sambo at age twelve, and is a Judo black belt. Having studied German at Saint Petersburg High School 281, he speaks German fluently.
Putin studied Law at Leningrad State University (not Saint Petersburg University), graduating in 1975. It was while at university that he met Anatoly Sobchak, co-author of the Russian constitution, who was an assistant professor that taught business law. He was greatly influential in Putin's career.
After earning a law degree, Putin's career in politics began with a 16 year stint serving in the KGB. He trained at the 401st KGB school in Okhta, Leningrad. After working monitoring foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad, he was sent to Moscow for further training at the Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute in 1984. Following that, under the cover identity of a translator, he served in Dresden, East Germany from 1985 to 1990. He relocated to Leningrad after the collapse of the Communist East German government, reconnecting with Anatoly Sobchak while at his post at the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University. Putin claims that on the second day of the 1991 coup attempt against then-President Mikhail Gorbachev, he resigned from the KGB because he did not agree with what had happened and no longer wished to be part of the intelligence operation of the new post-coup administration.
Sobchak, his former professor, soon became the Mayor of Leningrad, and Putin was appointed as head of the Committee for External Relations of the Mayor's Office. From there, he continued to build his political career through various political and governmental positions. In July 1998, then-President Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), which is the successor to the KGB and the primary intelligence and security organization of the Russian Federation.
He was appointed acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by Yeltsin on August 9, 1999, and later that day Putin agreed to run for the presidency after Yeltsin stated his desire to see Putin as his successor. His first Presidential term lasted from 2000 – 2008. Putin was also Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 – 2000 and again from 2008 – 2012. Over the years Putin has earned a very controversial reputation. He is frequently criticized by other world leaders and political experts for his handling of human rights and foreign policy issues. Many westerners have called the circumstances under which he has continued to hold office in Russia "undemocratic". Still, Putin has been fairly popular among the Russian people ever since taking over as President in 1999 following the surprise resignation of Boris Yeltsin.
Putin married Lyudmila Shkrebneva on July 28, 1983. They lived in East Germany from 1985 to 1990, where their daughter Yekaterina Putina was born. Their other daughter, Mariya Putina, was born in Leningrad. They announced their divorce in June 2013, and confirmed it had been finalized in April 2014.
His public image is fairly unique for a politician, largely characterized by his "macho" outdoorsy image. He has been famously shirtless on several occasions or engaging in various dangerous and extreme sports. He is also famous for his "Putinisms", aphorisms that come from his unique use of the Russian language (similar to how George W. Bush is famous for his malapropisms here in the United States). One example of a "Putinism" occurred during an interview with American journalist Larry King, who asked him what happened to a Russian submarine that had been lost in an explosion – Putin answered simply, "she sank".
Vladimir Putin is a Russian politician who has a net worth of $70 billion dollars. During his career, which includes stints serving as both President and Prime Minister of Russia, he has earned a very controversial international reputation. He is currently serving his second term as the President of Russia, which began in 2012.