Vladimir Putin is Russia’s most recognised face. He has dominated the Russian political scene for more than a decade now. He was Time magazine’s ‘Person of the Year’ in 2007 and Forbes ranked him the world’s most powerful man from 2013 to 2016, in a row.
Apart from his political persona, there is another face to Putin. He is a sportsman, fond of watches and technology and has many pet animals.
Here are some interesting and unknown facts about the Russian President.
He was born on October 7, 1952, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg). He majored in Law from the Leningrad State University in 1975 and joined the Committee for State Security, the erstwhile KGB.
He is a sports fan and was instrumental in bringing F1 racing to Russia for seven seasons, from 2014 to 2020. Apart from this, he also enjoys fishing, horse-riding, Whitewater rafting, scuba diving, skiing and ice hockey.
Passionate about collecting watches, his most expensive possession is the $500,000 Tourbograph’Pour Le Mérite, by A. Lange & Söhne, with an 18-carat gold case, silver dial, crocodile skin strap and sapphire-crystal glass.
His love for wildlife is no secret! In 2012, he flew a motorized deltaplane light aircraft in the Yamal Peninsula to lead Siberian cranes on a migration route.
He prefers driving Russian car brands, like Lada Kalina, an ivory-colored 1956 Volga GAZ-21 and a black Niva. His collection of foreign cars includes an armored Mercedes S 600 Guard Pullman and a Mercedes Geländewagen.
Putin is a ‘brand’ in Russia. T-shirts with Putin’s face, a vodka named Putinka, the Gorbusha Putina caviar and PuTin canned foods, are some of the things that make him such a famous personality in Russia.
Although he was an atheist as a child, Putin became a devout member of the church after two major accidents during the 1990s – his wife’s car accident and a house fire.
Apart from Russian, Putin speaks flawless German and rarely uses English as a medium of communication.
Putin has an interesting Lenin connection. His paternal grandfather worked as a chef at Lenin’s country house and later also at Stalin’s.
He joined KGB, Russia’s main security agency for the Soviet Union until its collapse in 1991, right after completing his law education. In KGB, he was posted to East Germany and monitored foreigners and consular officials in the main intelligence office there.
A canine lover, his Bulgarian shepherd dog, Buffy, was named after a nationwide naming contest. His pets also include a goat, a dwarf horse and even a Siberian tiger cub.
An avid martial artist, Putin earned the fifth dan black belt in judo in 2001, the highest ranked ninth dan in taekwondo in 2013 and the eighth dan black belt in karate in 2014.
A Putin themed Apple watch? Yes, it is true. A gold-coated Apple Watch, which also depicts the Moscow skyline and the double-headed eagle of Russia’s coat of arms, was made by the Russian-Italian jewellery brand, Caviar Perna Penna, at $3,073.
He married Lyudmila Putina in 1983, and the couple have two daughters, Maria and Katerina Putina. Unfortunately, they separated in 2014, after 31 years of marriage.
In March 2018, he won the elections with 76.7% of the total votes. In May 2018, he was sworn in as the President of Russia for six years.