Vladimir Putin

BIOGRAPHICAL DATA Vladimir Putin was born on October 1, 1952, in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. He is an only child. His father, a decorated war veteran, was a foreman in a metal factory. Growing up in Leningrad, Putin lived with his parents in a communal apartment with two other families. Though religion was not permitted in the Soviet Union, his mother secretly had him baptized as an Orthodox Christian. He remains a practicing member of the Church to this day. After earning a law degree in 1975, Putin joined the KGB, the security force of the former Soviet Union.

Putin served 15 years with the KGB, including six years in Dresden, East Germany. Putin married the former Lyudmila Shkrebneva in 1983. They have two daughters. In 1990 he retired from active KGB service and returned to Russia to become prorector of Leningrad State University, and by 1994 he had risen to the post of first deputy mayor of the city. In 1996 he moved to Moscow, where he joined the presidential staff as deputy to Pavel Borodin, the Kremlin’s chief administrator. In July 1998 President Boris Yeltsin made Putin director of the Federal Security Service.

In 1999 Yeltsin appointed Putin prime minister, and on December 31 of that year Yeltsin stepped down as president in Putin’s favour. Three months later Putin won a resounding electoral victory, partly the result of his success in the battle to keep Chechnya from seceding. In his first term he asserted central control over Russia’s 89 regions and republics and moved to reduce the power of Russia’s unpopular financiers and media tycoons. The period was also marked by frequent terrorist attacks by Chechen separatists.

Putin easily won reelection in 2004. He stepped down in 2008 (as required by term limits) and was replaced by his own hand-picked successor, Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev then installed Putin as prime minister, a move which left Putin, as The New York Times put it, as “the country’s dominant politician, with a firm grip on power. ” CONTRIBUTIONS On New Year’s Eve in 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly stepped down as president, naming Putin as acting president. In Putin’s first speech as acting president, he promised, “Freedom of speech, freedom of conscience, reedom of the press, the right to private property—these basic principles of a civilized society will be protected,” according to a Newsweek report. In addition, Putin removed several of Yeltsin’s loyalists and relatives from his cabinet. On March 26, 2000, Russians elected Putin out of a field of eleven candidates. After his election, Putin’s first legislative move was to win approval of the Start II arms reduction treaty from the Duma. The deal, which was negotiated seven years earlier, involved decreasing both the Russian and American nuclear buildup by half.

Putin’s move on this issue was seen as a positive step in his willingness to develop a better relationship with the United States. In addition, one of Putin’s earliest moves involved working with a team of economists to develop a plan to improve the country’s economy. On May 7, 2000, Putin was officially sworn in as Russia’s second president and its first in a free transfer of power in the nation’s eleven-hundred-year history. Putin has made great efforts to improve relations with the remaining world powers.

In July 2001, Putin met with Chinese President Jiang Zemin and the two signed a “friendship treaty” which called for improving trade between China and Russia and improving relations concerning U. S. plans for a missile defense system. Four months later, Putin visited Washington, D. C. to meet with President George W. Bush over the defense system. Although they failed to reach a definite agreement, the two leaders did agree to drastically cut the number of nuclear arms in each country. Early in 2002, Putin traveled to Poland and became the first Russian president since 1993 to make this trip.

Representatives of the two countries signed agreements involving business, trade, and transportation. MY EVALUATION During his eight years in power, Russian President Vladimir Putin has overseen his country’s dramatic transformation into an oil-rich power. But he has also brought back authoritarianism to Russia, where corruption is running rampant and many still live in poverty. Putin vowed to restore Russia as a great power, saying corrupt politicians and greedy businessmen were dragging the country down. “That’s why we’re insisting on a single dictatorship in Russia,” Putin said. “A dictatorship of the law. That became Putin’s mantra. He said he would fight the country’s massive corruption by building a powerful central government. In Putin’s first year as president, parliament became nothing more than a place for legislators to rubber-stamp his policies, while state-controlled companies began taking over independent media outlets. Police also investigated the country’s powerful business oligarchs, some of whom fled abroad. But while Putin claimed to be strengthening Russia, he was also consolidating his own power by attacking his rivals. In 2003, police arrested Mikhail Khodorkovsky, Russia’s richest man.

His Yukos oil company was sold to a state-controlled company, and Khodorkovsky landed in a Siberian prison, convicted of fraud and tax evasion. Many believe his real sin was to have challenged the Kremlin. Alcoholism and other diseases have grown under Putin, while violence from Chechnya is spreading to other parts of the volatile Caucasus region. Once again in Russia, criticism of the Kremlin has become a crime. The sight of riot police in central Moscow beating peaceful protesters is common these days. Putin’s handpicked successor, Dmitri Medvedev is now president.

However, Putin has stayed in power as prime minister and head of the majority party in parliament, a decision some say has sealed the final demise of Russian democracy. Resurrecting a Soviet-style, one-party state, Putin’s critics say, will be his biggest legacy. BIBLIOGRAPHY Vladimir Putin. Answers. com [World Wide Web]. November 2006 [cited 22 March 2010]. Available http://www. answers. com/topic/vladimir-putin: INTERNET. Putin: A Biography. Biography Online [World Wide Web]. September 2006 [cited 22 March 2010]. Available http://www. biographyonline. net/politicians/russian/putin. html: INTERNET.