Tuesday, 21 Mar 2023

Inside Russian President Vladimir Putin's political background and personal life

Vladimir Putin is one of the most divisive political figures in recent memory.

A former KGB operative, Putin has a steely demeanour and appears to rule with an iron fist.

His career has spanned decades, and after being skyrocketed to power alongside Boris Yeltsin, he’s remained at the very forefront of Russian politics.

He has continued to be a figure of controversy, particularly in the last year following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has only exacerbated tensions with Western nations.

As a year of the war is marked, find out more about Putin’s influence, as well as his personal life.

What is Vladimir Putin’s background?

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born October 7, 1952, making him 70 years old.

He studied law at St Petersburg State University, graduating in 1975, and then joined the KGB and was stationed in Germany.

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After the Soviet coup d’etat against President Mikhail Gorbachev, Putin decided which side he was on, and denounced communism.

One of his closest friends was St Petersburg mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who gave Putin a job as an international affairs advisor in 1990.

From there, his rise was quick. By 1997, President Boris Yeltsin had appointed Putin deputy chief of Presidential Staff, which he remained until May 1998.

In 1998, Yeltsin then appointed Putin as Director of the FSB, the primary intelligence and security organization of the Russian Federation and the successor to the KGB.

In August 1999, Putin was appointed Prime Minister.

In the Russian political system, the Prime Minister is head of the government, and second only to the President. The President is the Supreme Commander in Chief and holds the highest office.

By December of the same year, Boris Yeltsin had unexpectedly resigned, making Putin the acting President. When an election was held, he was victorious, and Putin was inaugurated in May 2000.

He then won a second term which ran from 2004 to 2008 but was banned from running for a third term.

Dmitry Medvedev was elected as his successor and Putin became Prime Minister. However in 2012 Medvedev suggested Putin go for the third term as President regardless.

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Although the law prohibits anyone from ever being elected to the presidency for a third consecutive term, three out of four Russian Presidents have served three or more terms.

He won, although there were widespread accusations of fraud and vote-rigging.

There were massive protests against this, including the well-known Pussy Riot performance which saw members of the punk band arrested and civilians injured by police.

Putin won the 2018 Russian presidential election with more than 76% of the vote, with his fourth term beginning in May 2018. It is set to last until 2024.

That fourth term has been eventful, to say the least, from Russia hosting the World Cup in 2018, to the coronavirus pandemic and the launch of the invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022.

What is Vladimir Putin’s net worth?

It’s long been the subject of discussion, but it’s very hard to put an exact figure on Putin’s wealth.

It’s likely that his wealth is well-distributed between real estate, holding companies, and various accounts.

Former Kremlin adviser Stanislav Belkovsky claimed in 2007 that Putin had a wealth of at least $40 billion (almost £29 billion).

In 2012, in a different interview, Belkovsky upped this figure to $70 billion (£61.5 billion) on new ‘confidential’ information he’d received.

According to Fortune, however, Putin’s personal assets could actually total $200 billion (£165.2 billion), which would make him one of the richest people in the world.

This would put his wealth nearly at Bill Gates levels, although he rarely features on rich lists as the assets cannot be verified.

According to Time Magazine, his billionaire status is largely due to the fact he owns 7% of the oil company Surgutneftegaz, 4.5% of gas company Gazprom, and has stakes in commodities trading companies.

Is Vladimir Putin married?

Vladimir Putin was married to Lyudmila Putina (nee Shkrebneva) from 1983 to 2014.

They have two daughters, Mariya Putina, born April 28, 1985, in Leningrad, and Yekaterina Putina, born August 31, 1986, in Dresden, East Germany.

Putin is notoriously secretive about his relationships, but the pair announced their separation in 2013.

It has since been reported that Lyudmila, 65, has since gone on to marry a man 21 years her junior.

Putin himself has been linked to Russian ex-gymnast Alina Kabaeva, 39, for a number of years.

It is also heavily rumoured that Putin has three children from his relationship with Kabaeva.

She reportedly gave birth to a daughter in 2015, and then twin sons four years later – but the Kremlin has denied that Putin is the father.

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