Vladimir Putin: the current president of Russia

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Vladimir Putin is a politician known for ruling the Russia since 2000 — between 2008 and 2012 as prime minister and from 2000 to 2008 and from 2012 to the present as president. He gained great popularity by launching war against the Chechens in late 1999 and by recovering the Russian economy at the beginning of the 21st century.

He persecuted opponents and took control of the Russian press, in addition to having established mechanisms that allowed him to remain in Russian power until the year 2036. Putin has recently involved the country he rules in a series of conflicts with the Ukraine, trying to prevent this neighboring nation from approaching the West. He ordered the invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

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Summary about Vladimir Putin

  • Vladimir Putin was born in Saint Petersburg, belonging to a family of workers.

  • He made a career in the Soviet secret service, the KGB.

  • He entered Russian politics in the 1990s and rose rapidly, being appointed to the position of prime minister in 1999.

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  • He gained great popularity for launching war against the Chechens and for recovering the Russian economy.

  • It generated a series of frictions with Ukraine that resulted in the invasion of that country in 2022.

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Birth of Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Leningrad on October 7, 1952. This city is now known as Saint Petersburg. He was the son of a humble family, her father, Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin, being a worker at a car factory who had served in the Second World War. His mother, Maria Ivanovna Shelomova, also worked in a factory.

As a child, Putin began his studies at a school in his city. During this period, he studied German, a language he speaks fluently, and also practiced judo and sambo, a martial art created in Soviet Union at the beginning of the 20th century.

After completing basic education, Putin went on to higher education and studied law at a state university in Leningrad. At that time, he joined the Communist Party of the Soviet Union and decided to start his career in espionage by joining the KGB, the Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti.

Vladimir Putin's career in the KGB

KGB was the State Security Committee, the institution responsible in the Soviet Union for the actions of:

  • intelligence;

  • counter-intelligence;

  • espionage;

  • counterintelligence.

Putin spent 15 years in the Soviet secret service, acting in counterintelligence missions, carrying out monitoring of foreigners in Leningrad, among other functions. He joined the KGB in 1975, and from 1985 to 1990 he served in Dresden, East Germany.

With the fall of the berlin wall, built in 1961 to isolate West from East Germany, and the subsequent reunification of Germany, Putin was summoned to return to the Soviet Union in 1990. During this period, he held the rank of lieutenant colonel and resigned from his duties in mid-1991.

Vladimir Putin's rise in politics

The 1990s were a particularly difficult period in the history of the nations that had formed the Soviet Union. The collapse of socialism and the adaptation to a capitalist economy brought serious economic problems for these countries, which had significant economic setbacks.

O GDP Russian declined by 14.5% in 1992 and had a further decline of 12.6% in 1994|1|. The then president of Russia, Boris Yeltsin, showed that he was not able to get around the country's serious political crisis. Finally, between 1991 and 1997, the economy retreated by a total of 43%, a catastrophic result.|2|.

It was in this context that Vladimir Putin became a politically relevant figure in his country. Between 1991 and 1996, Putin worked in different positions in the Saint Petersburg municipal administration. The most important position he took was that of deputy mayor of the city in 1994.

In 1996, Putin made a leap in his political career, abandoning his position related to the administration of St. Moscow, capital of Russia. In Moscow he took over posts relevant in the government of Boris Yeltsin.

Putin's rise in Russian politics was rapid, and he came to be seen as one of the most promising figures in Russian politics, as:

  • he was deputy chief of staff for relations with regions subordinate to Russia;

  • he was appointed director of the Russian secret police;

  • he was appointed director of the country's Security Council.

 Former Russian President Boris Yeltsin after meeting with President George H. W Bush in Washington D.C. in 1991.
In 1999, Boris Yeltsin, then president of Russia, nominated Vladimir Putin as the country's prime minister. [2]

During this period, in addition to the economic crisis, Russia faced serious problems with Chechnya separatists. Boris Yeltsin then decided to invite Putin to assume the position of prime minister in mid-1999.

When Putin took office, the crisis with the Chechens was at its height, due to the occurrence of bomb attacks attributed to separatists in the region. Vladimir Putin convinced the president to organize a major crackdown on the rebels.

The operation kept the Chechens in check (although the war went on for years) and raised the Putin's popularity skyrocketed, so that he became a political figure known around the world. parents. On the last day of 1999, Boris Yeltsin resigned à presidency. A few months later, a presidential election was held, and Putin was elected, with 53% of the votes.

See too:Vladimir Lenin — the ruler of Russia who started the process of state restructuring

Vladimir Putin: President of Russia

With the victory in the 2000 election, Putin was in an entirely different position than Boris Yeltsin, as the new president had popular support and dO FORrussian armament. Historian George L. Freezy mentions three central elements of the political project that Putin had for Russia in that context.|3|, being the defense:

  • nationalism as a way of uniting such an ethnically heterogeneous country;

  • of Russia as a European nation that would find its own path to development;

  • of a strong state that could guarantee individual freedoms and the well-being of citizens.

was started a Putin's long period of influence in Russian politics, which continues to this day. When Putin took office, the Russian Constitution allowed him to be president for two consecutive terms (each term lasted four years), thus totaling eight years in power.

In his government, Putin enjoyed very high popularity among the Russian population, obtaining an approval rating of 86% in 2008.|4|. This popularity is explained by the fact that there was a breakthrough economicOin Russiaduring his tenure, mainly because of the export of gas and Petroleum.

Putin took advantage of this popularity to gain more political power. Thus, he reinforced his campaign in parliamentary elections, aiming to ensure that Parliament supported him, and he fought the powers of Russian provinces, centralizing power itself. Furthermore, the politician chasedu the russian oligarchs (groups of businessmen who became rich in the 1990s), especially critics of his government.

One of those persecuted was Mikhail Khodorkovsky, an oil and gas businessman who supported parties opposed to Putin. He was arrested in 2003, charged with various financial crimes, and sentenced to nine years in prison in a labor camp. In 2013, Putin pardoned Khodorkovsky, who was released and exiled from Russia.

Putin too started a campaign for control of the Russian press, causing state-owned companies to acquire television companies and promoting persecution of journalists critical of the government. The most symbolic case was that of Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist murdered in 2006. Putin Called the Journalist's Murder "Insignificant"|5|.

In 2008, the presidency was taken over by Dmitri Medvedev, candidate elected with 71% of the votes and who had Putin's support. After taking office, Medvedev nominated Vladimir Putin for the post of prime minister. Together they ruled Russia, and Putin's power over the country became even more evident.

→ Vladimir Putin's power and the amendment of the Constitution

During Medvedev's administration, the term of office of president was extended from four to six years with the possibility of a re-election. So, in 2012, Putin ran again foropposite and was elected with 64% of the vote.

In 2018, Putin was re-elected for another six years in the presidency. In 2020, he approved areform that allowed your stay in power for up to four terms. In other words, in practice, the politician can govern until 2036, as long as he wins the elections, which should take place in 2024 and 2030.

Know more: Donald Trump's administration — one of the most controversial in recent US history

Vladimir Putin's international performance

Throughout his administration, Putin has demonstrated his intentions to reposition Russia as one of the international powers. George L. Freezy calls Putin's foreign policy ambitious|6|. This caused some friction between US and Russian diplomacy to take place during the 2000s.

One of Putin's major foreign policy concerns was the advancement of the West's influence over Eastern Europe and on the other countries that formed the Soviet Union, especially in the cases that led to the implementation in democracies in Western ways. O Middle East was also a focus of tension, since the political did not agree with the US stance on Iran or the invasion of Iraq.

Another point of attention for foreign policy was the expansion of nato across Eastern Europe. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is a military alliance that brings together some 30 countries. Putin no supported the expansion of NATO by neighboring countries to Russian territory. As early as 2007, Russia and the US had diplomatic problems over Ukraine's possible NATO membership.

Furthermore, Putin sought to strengthen his country's ties with the China, in order to create a mutual cooperation between the two nations, mainly as a way of taking a stand against the domination of the U.S in international politics. Finally, an important phenomenon that began in Putin's first government was the deterioration in Russia's relations with Ukraine, mainly due to the Ukrainian pro-Western disposition.

In his second term, Vladimir Putin's foreign policy became more aggressive, and a series of more energetic actions were taken. The politician authorized Russia to intervene in the Syrian Civil War, a conflict that has been ongoing since 2011, with the aim of helping Bashar al-Assad, a Syrian dictator who was on the verge of defeat.

Russian intervention in the conflict managed to save Bashar al-Assad's position. The Russians acted mainly through massive bombings on the main Syrian cities. These attacks weakened the opposition but also put the lives of thousands of civilians at risk.

Historian Timothy Snyder claims that Russia used mass bombing in Syria to shake democracy in the great European nations by encouraging political parties and movements far right to exploit the problems caused by the large influx of Muslim immigrants who entered the Europe every year|7|.

Vladimir Putin too was accused of having interveningnothe 2016 US presidential election. In addition, a series of cyberattacks by the Russian government was denounced. They were interpreted as aiming to weaken Western democracies and strengthen far-right movements.

→ Vladimir Putin and the question of Ukraine

The most delicate issue of Putin's international performance undoubtedly involves Ukraine, a former Soviet nation. Ukraine gained its independence in 1991, and relations with Russia began to fray after 2003, when a pro-Western government was established in that country. In 2013, the Tensions between Russia and Ukraine increased.

This was because in 2013, the then Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych decided to abandon negotiations to strengthen the country's ties with the European Union. The population took to the streets to demand the resumption of the alliance attempt, but Yanukovych began to repress the protesters and tried to get closer to Russia.

Protest in Ukraine against the 2014 invasion of Crimea, with a young man holding a sign urging Putin to stop. [3]
Protest in Ukraine against the 2014 invasion of Crimea, with a young man holding a sign urging Putin to stop. [3]

In February 2014, Viktor Yanukovych was ousted from the presidency, and Putin refused to let that happen. he ordered the Crimea invasion, a peninsula located in southern Ukraine and occupying a privileged position on the Black Sea. Quickly, the region was annexed to Russian territory. The United Nations (UN) does not recognize this annexation, considering the Crimea still as part of Ukraine.

In addition Russia started to support separatist movements in Donetsk and Lugansk, both territories located in Donbass, Ukraine. Timothy Snyder states that “Russia has turned units of its regular army into a terrorist force, removing insignia from the uniforms and denying all responsibility for the terrible suffering these units inflicted”|8|. Since 2014, these regions have been under strong Russian influence.

In 2022, tensions between the two nations increased over Ukraine's negotiation with NATO. Putin reacted to this new rapprochement between Ukraine and the West and deployed troops along his country's border with Ukraine. In February 2022, he recognized the independence of Lugansk and Donetsk, and in the same month, authorized a military invasion nothe Ukraine, which generated worldwide concern.

  • Video on tension between Russia and Ukraine


|1| Vladimir Putin: the 'modern tsar' who controls Russia. To access, click on here.

|2| FREEZE, Gregory L. A modern “time of difficulties”: from reform to disintegration (1985-1999). In.: FREEZE, Gregory L. (org.). Russian history. Editions 70: Lisbon, 2017, p. 493.

|3| Ditto, p. 512-515.

|4| Ditto, p. 520.

|5| Idem. for. 523.

|6| Idem. for. 533.

|7| SNYDER, Timothy. On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century to the Present. São Paulo: Companhia das Letras, 2017, p. 104.

|8| Ditto, p. 103.

image credits

[1] photographer RM / shutterstock

[2] mark reinstein / shutterstock

[3] hurricanehank / shutterstock

By Daniel Neves Silva
History teacher 

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