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Vladimir Putin - Introduction

Vladimir Putin was born in Leningrad on October 7, 1952, seven years after the end of the Great Patriotic War. The Siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany during World War II lasted from September 1941 to January 1944, and was one of the longest and deadliest in history. About 750,000 civilians are estimated to have starved and frozen to death. Putin’s brother died in childhood during the devastating siege.

In 1975, he graduated with a degree in law from Leningrad State University. He later earned a Ph.D. degree in economics. After graduation, Mr. Putin was assigned to work in the KGB. From 1985 to 1990, he worked in East Germany. In 1990, he became assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University responsible for international affairs. His next position was an advisor to the chairman of the Leningrad City Council. In June 1991, he became chairman of the St. Petersburg City Council's International Relations Committee and, starting with 1994, he combined this post with the position of First Deputy Chairman of the St. Petersburg City Government (First Deputy Mayor).

In August 1996, he was appointed deputy head of the President's Administrative Directorate (Property Management Directorate). In March 1997, he became deputy head of the Executive Office of the President (Presidential Administration) and head of the Central Supervision and Inspections Directorate. In May 1998, he was promoted to first deputy head of the Presidential Administration. In July 1998, he was appointed director of the Federal Security Service and, as of March 1999, he combined this position with that of Secretary of the Security Council.

The product of six interviews conducted by Russian journalists (and translated into English by Catherine A. Fitzpatrick), First Person is a book-length Q&A session in which Russian president Vladimir Putin discusses his childhood, his life as a spy, and his surprisingly rapid rise as a politician in the 1990s. Parts of this unusual autobiography are plainly banal (he weighs 165 pounds and likes beer), but interspersed throughout are candid comments by one of the world's most powerful men.

Putin admits that he didn't know much about Stalin's violent purges in the 1930s when he joined the KGB ("I was a pure and utterly successful product of Soviet patriotic education"). He also scolds Soviet leaders for the invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia during the cold war: "These were major mistakes. And the Russophobia that we see in Eastern Europe today is the fruit of those mistakes."

At another point, he expresses frustration with some of the things critics have said about him: "Why have they made up so much about me? It's complete nonsense!" On the war in Chechnya, he is predictably defensive: "I was convinced that if we didn't stop the extremists right away, we'd be facing a second Yugoslavia on the entire territory of the Russian Federation--the Yugoslavization of Russia.... We are not attacking. We are defending ourselves."

He speaks German and English fluently. He also had a much-loved pet, a female black Labrador Retriever named Koni.

Despite declaring a relatively modest income, there have been suggestions that Putin is the richest man in Russia. Putin practices martial arts and enjoys jogging. He has famously been pictured fishing bare-chested and hunting exotic animals, actively cultivating a strong man image. Putin is a Russian Orthodox Christian. Baptized secretly by his mother, since the collapse of the Soviet Union he has been open about his faith.

UFO site Disclose.tv, which uses the slogan "truth revealed", posted: “Social networks are circulating pictures from 1920 and 1941 for which some people claim that they are pictures of Russian President Vladimir Putin. In fact, supporters of the thesis that Putin is almighty and immortal have launched a story that their president is a mythical creature that resides on our planet for hundreds, if not thousands of years." The picture taken in 1920 shows a Russian soldier who looks exactly like Putin. Another picture taken of a soldier in 1941 too has an uncanny resemblance with the Russian president and the man who was pictured 20 years ago.

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Page last modified: 10-04-2019 11:56:08 ZULU