The Czar of Russia

From riding horseback shirtless to tranquilizing tigers, the Russian president has done it all, cultivating a tough-guy image. Vladimir Putin, the media magnet, is one of the most recognizable figures internationally and rated as TIME magazine’s Person of the Year in 2007.

In 2013, the ex-KGB officer was ranked as the world’s most powerful person according to Forbes.

 

Early Life

Vladimir Vladimiovich Putin was born on October 7, 1952 in St.Petersburg, Russia.

Putin grew up living in a communal apartment. A sports enthusiast, Putin showed interest in “Sambo” and Judo since his school days. He received a degree from the law department at Leningrad State University in 1975.

 

Career

Putin joined the KGB in 1975, serving 15 years as a central intelligence officer, before retiring from KGB with the rank of lieutenant colonel.

In May 1990, he was appointed as an advisor on international affairs to Mayor Anotoly Sobchak. The following year, he became head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Peterburg Mayor’s Office.

In 1996, Putin moved to Moscow and began his rapid ascent to the top levels of Russian leadership. He held posts in President Boris Yeltsin’s government, and in 1998, became head of the Federal Security Service, the agency that was essentially the successor to the KGB.

The next year, in August 1999, Yeltsin tapped Putin as acting prime minister. Just a few months later, Yeltsin resigned, handing over the reins of power to the then-47-year-old Putin, who became acting president. Putin would win the presidency in his own right in a March 2000 election and won re-election four years later.

Putin would leave the presidency in 2008 due to term limits, but he was installed as prime minister by his successor, Dmitry Medvedev, leading many to believe Putin still retained the ultimate power in Russia. In 2012, there would be no doubt that who was in charge, as Putin once again was elected president.

 

The Bachelor

In 2008, the Moskovski Korrespondent newspaper reported that the Russian president and “Olympic gymnast half his age” Alina Kabaeva were set to be married. The story on the marriage was soon retracted and the newspaper shut down.

In 2012, it was rumoured that spy-turned-lingerie model Anna Chapman is the new love interest of Putin, but nothing came of it. The president was also rumoured to have been involved with his personal photographer Yana Lapikova.

Putin has denied all rumours.

 

Hobbies

Vladimir Putin firmly believes that martial arts teach such knowledge, abilities and skills that every politician needs. He holds a black belt in karate.

Skiing also interested Putin. In 2009 he went skiing on the slopes in the Moscow Region along with the president of an Austrian ski resort Karl Schranz.

To fulfill his promise to students, Putin learnt skating. He took part in a training session of young hockey players for the Golden Puck final, where he even scored a few goals.

Fishing, horseback riding, bowling and swimming are some of Putin’s favourite activities.

 

Recognition

-  In September 2006, France’s president Jacques Chirac awarded Vladimir Putin the Grand-Croix (Grand Cross) of the Legion d’honneur, the highest French decoration

-  On 12 February 2007 Saudi King Abdullah awarded Putin the King Abdul Aziz Award, Saudi Arabia’s top civilian decoration

-  On 10 September 2007 UAE President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan awarded Putin the Order of Zayed, the UAE’s top civil decoration

-  In February 2011 the parliament of Kyrgyzstan named a peak in Tian Shan mountains after the Russian President.

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