Vladimir Putin, the Russian politician and former intelligence officer who has been serving as the president of Russia since 2012, marked his 71st birthday on October 7. Born in Leningrad, Soviet Union, on October 7, 1952, Putin is the youngest of three children born to Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin and Maria Ivanovna Putina. Spiridon Putin, his grandfather, was a personal cook to Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin. His father initially served as a conscript in the Soviet Navy in the early 1930s but later joined the destruction battalion of the NKVD during the Nazi German invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941, eventually transferring to the regular army and sustaining severe injuries in 1942.
Putin completed his law degree at Leningrad State University (now Saint Petersburg State University) in 1975 and obtained his Ph.D. in economics from Saint Petersburg Mining University in 1997, focusing on the strategic planning of the mineral economy. Aside from his academic pursuits, he studied German at Saint Petersburg High School and is proficient in the language. Putin is also known for practicing sambo and judo. Starting his career in the Soviet Union’s security apparatus, Putin joined the KGB in 1975 and underwent training at the 401st KGB School in Leningrad’s Okhta. Throughout his career, he was posted to various locations, including New Zealand and East Germany.
During Putin’s initial presidential term, the Russian economy saw an average annual growth of seven percent, attributed to economic reforms and a substantial fivefold increase in oil and gas prices. Simultaneously, Putin took a leading role in addressing a conflict with Chechen separatists, successfully restoring federal control over the region. While serving as prime minister under Dmitry Medvedev, he oversaw military conflict with Georgia and implemented reforms in the military and police sectors. In his third presidential term, Russia annexed Crimea and supported a war in eastern Ukraine through military incursions, resulting in global sanctions and a financial crisis in Russia.
In 1997, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Putin as the deputy chief of the Presidential Staff and later as the chief of the Main Control Directorate of the Presidential Property Management Department. Subsequently, Putin held positions such as First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Staff for the regions and acting prime minister of the Government of the Russian Federation in 1999. Putin has maintained a consistent presence in top leadership positions in Russia since 1999. His tenure includes serving as prime minister from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012. Additionally, he held the office of president from 2000 to 2008 and has been serving as president again since 2012. This extended period of leadership underscores Putin’s significant and enduring influence on Russian politics.