As Russia now looks set for another lengthy period of rule from Vladimir Putin, it’s worth a look at where the man came from.Putin’s back story certainly isn’t dull. He’s the former KGB agent, the judo champion and the man who thought it was appropriate to fly a fighter jet into a war zone as an election stunt. He’s been seen by more people with his top off than your average adult film star.
Since we’re sure to see plenty of Putin in the long-term future, we’ve decided it’s time to have a look back at how he climbed to the top in post-Soviet Russia and how he’s managed to stay there.
Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 in what was then Leningrad and what is now St. Petersburg.
It has been said that the young Putin was something of terror while at elementary school. Reports from teachers and fellow students suggest that the future Russian leader talked in class, didn't do his maths homework and, on one occasion, threw a chalkboard eraser at another student.
He also got into repeated fights with his gym teacher, perhaps paving the way for his later judo fame.
And, what's more, he bared a striking resemblance to a young Tom Riddle, who, as we all know, went on to become the most feared dark wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort.
Putin spent over 15 years in the KGB as a mid-level agent.
He was stationed in East Germany, and would eventually rise to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
The exact nature of what Putin was doing with the KGB is not completely clear but it is believed he was charged with stealing NATO secrets and Western technology. It is also known that he was trying to recruit people with 'wireless communication' skills.
Putin was appointed to the position of chairman of St Petersburg city council's international relations committee in 1991. He later combined the role with that of deputy chairman of the entire city council in 1994.
In 1997, he became deputy head of the Executive Office of the President before being promoted to first deputy head of the Presidential Administration.
Then, in 1999 he was appointed Prime Minister of Russia by then-president Boris Yeltsin, who would later make Putin acting president.
In September 1999, two apartment buildings in Moscow were bombed on separate days resulting in the death of 224 people.
Though the Russian government failed to find the perpetrator, Chechen rebels were quickly blamed, allowing Putin to justify his harsh and aggressive stance in Chechnya while also gaining popularity.
10 years later, GQ published a magazine article, banned in Russia, suggesting more strongly than ever that Putin, or at least the Russian government had been involved in the attack on their own citizens.
Prior to this, Putin had been criticised by a former KGB agent named Alexander Litvinenko who had maintained the President was to blame for the attacks in 1999. Litvinenko was murdered, poisoned with the radioactive substance polonium, in 2006. Before his death he signed a document blaming Putin for the crime.
A few controversies surrounded Putin during his first term.
His hard-line in Chechnya made some question his human rights record even before he was elected for his first term.
In 2003, he closed down Russia's last independent national TV network, TVS. His official reasoning was a lack of financing.
Then, prior to the election in 2004, he took the bizarre and dramatic action of sacking his entire cabinet. It was dubbed as a purging of figures with ties to Yeltsin.
Putin defended the decision as a move to prepare for that year's election, but he didn't really face any opposition, as his huge landslide victory later demonstrated.
Throughout his political career, right up to the present day, Putin has attempted to foster the image of an action man.
He's ridden horses, posed topless for photo opportunities and driven race cars. But, perhaps his most notorious 'action man' moment came when he flew in to Chechnya prior to the 2000 election in the back of a fighter jet.
The former-President is also a blackbelt in judo. He's released his own instructional DVD and even has his own judo-inspired toy.
During his second term, Putin looked to force more and more perceived threats out of government. Liberals were eased out and frequently replaced by more conservative allies of the President.
He also turned on those who had profited in the aftermath of the Cold War. Wealthy oligarchs like Boris Berezovsky and Vladimir Gusinsky were forced into exile.
Additionally, Russia's former richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky was sent to jail for tax evasion.
Russia's international clout has been fully recognised under Putin.
In the past he's attempted to deprive Europe of natural gas after falling out with the Ukraine.
In 2008 he claimed that the Georgian crisis was an American conspiracy aimed at disrupting the Russian elections.
He supported the war on terror, likening Chechen rebels to terrorists from al-Qaeda but opposed the war in Iraq and upset the U.S. when he invited members of Hamas to Russia to have political talks.
Other sour relations of note include those with the UK which were spoiled after the murder of Alexander Litvinenko.
There were talks in 2007 that Putin would try and stand for election to the presidency once more. However, he was banned from standing for a third term paving the way for now-president Dmitry Medvedev.
Within days Putin was appointed Prime Minister by Medvedev, essentially still retaining power and defying the Russian constitution via a loophole.
Now, Putin is set to run for president again. That means Russia could face another six or even 12 years under his rule.
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