Vladimir Putin, born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) in 1952, was named Russia’s prime minister in 1999 before he was elected president in 2000.
Putin studied law at Leningrad State University before serving 15 years as an intelligence officer for the KGB, according to Britannica, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
After the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991, Putin retired and returned to Leningrad as a supporter of liberal politician Anatoly Sobchak, according to History.com. When Sobchak was elected mayor of Leningrad, Putin was named his head of external relations, as well as first deputy mayor.
In 1996, Sobchak lost an election and Putin resigned and moved to Moscow, where he was appointed deputy head of management under the Yeltsin administration, according to Biography.com.
On Dec. 31, 1999, Boris Yeltsin abruptly resigned, and named Putin acting president. Putin was formally elected president of Russia on March 26, 2000, capturing more than 50% of the vote, NPR reported.
As president, Putin divided Russia’s 89 regions and republics into seven new federal districts, which were each headed by a representative appointed by Putin, according to Britannica. Putin also removed regional governors’ rights to sit in the upper house of the Russian parliament and moved to reduce the power of Russia’s oligarchs by closing media outlets and launching criminal investigations against leading figures, according to Britannica.
Constitutional term limits meant Putin could not run for reelection in 2008, but when his protégé Dmitry Medvedev was elected to the presidency in 2008, he appointed Putin as the country’s prime minister, Biography.com reported. Putin was reelected to a third term as president in 2012 and changed Russia’s constitution so he can stay in power until 2036, or possibly even longer, USA Today reported.
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