Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Putin

Overview
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the
President of the Russian Federation
The President of the Russian Federation is the head of state, supreme commander-in-chief and holder of the highest office within the Russian Federation...

 Russian Federation
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and is the current Prime Minister of Russia
Prime Minister of Russia
The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation The use of the term "Prime Minister" is strictly informal and is not allowed for by the Russian Constitution and other laws....

, as well as chairman of United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

 and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus
Union of Russia and Belarus
The Union State , semi-officially known as Union State of Russia and Belarus , is a supranational entity consisting of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.- Creation :...

. He became acting President
Acting President of the Russian Federation
The Acting President of the Russian Federation is a temporary post provided by the Constitution of Russia. Acting President is a person who fulfills the duties of President of the Russian Federation when cases of incapacity and vacancy occur...

 on 31 December 1999, when president Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

 resigned in a surprising move. Putin won the 2000 presidential election
Russian presidential election, 2000
Russian presidential elections were held on 26 March 2000. Incumbent Prime Minister, and acting President Vladimir Putin, who had succeeded Boris Yeltsin on his resignation December 31, 1999, was seeking a four-year term in his own right and won the elections in the first round. Polling stations...

 and in 2004 he was re-elected
Russian presidential election, 2004
Presidential elections were held in Russia on 14 March 2004. Incumbent Vladimir Putin was seeking a second full four-year term. He was re-elected with 71.31% of the vote.-Sergey Glazyev:...

 for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008.

Because of constitutionally
Constitution of Russia
The current Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted by national referendum on 12 December 1993. Russia's constitution came into force on 25 December 1993, at the moment of its official publication...

 mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term.
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Quotations

Whoever does not miss the Soviet Union has no heart. Whoever wants it back has no brain.

First, we are working hard now on creating a genuine multiparty system. Second, we are redistributing powers between the federal, regional and municipal authorities.

Encyclopedia
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second President of the
President of the Russian Federation
The President of the Russian Federation is the head of state, supreme commander-in-chief and holder of the highest office within the Russian Federation...

 Russian Federation
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

 and is the current Prime Minister of Russia
Prime Minister of Russia
The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation The use of the term "Prime Minister" is strictly informal and is not allowed for by the Russian Constitution and other laws....

, as well as chairman of United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

 and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus
Union of Russia and Belarus
The Union State , semi-officially known as Union State of Russia and Belarus , is a supranational entity consisting of the Russian Federation and the Republic of Belarus.- Creation :...

. He became acting President
Acting President of the Russian Federation
The Acting President of the Russian Federation is a temporary post provided by the Constitution of Russia. Acting President is a person who fulfills the duties of President of the Russian Federation when cases of incapacity and vacancy occur...

 on 31 December 1999, when president Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

 resigned in a surprising move. Putin won the 2000 presidential election
Russian presidential election, 2000
Russian presidential elections were held on 26 March 2000. Incumbent Prime Minister, and acting President Vladimir Putin, who had succeeded Boris Yeltsin on his resignation December 31, 1999, was seeking a four-year term in his own right and won the elections in the first round. Polling stations...

 and in 2004 he was re-elected
Russian presidential election, 2004
Presidential elections were held in Russia on 14 March 2004. Incumbent Vladimir Putin was seeking a second full four-year term. He was re-elected with 71.31% of the vote.-Sergey Glazyev:...

 for a second term lasting until 7 May 2008.

Because of constitutionally
Constitution of Russia
The current Constitution of the Russian Federation was adopted by national referendum on 12 December 1993. Russia's constitution came into force on 25 December 1993, at the moment of its official publication...

 mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term. After the victory of his successor, Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

, in the 2008 presidential elections
Russian presidential election, 2008
The Russian Presidential election of 2008, held on March 2, 2008 resulted in the election of Dmitry Medvedev as the third President of Russia. Medvedev, whose candidacy was supported by incumbent president Vladimir Putin and five political parties , received 71% of the vote, and defeated...

, Putin was nominated by Medvedev to be Russia's Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Russia
The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation The use of the term "Prime Minister" is strictly informal and is not allowed for by the Russian Constitution and other laws....

; Putin took the post on 8 May 2008. In September 2011, Putin officially announced that he will seek a third non-consecutive term in the 2012 presidential elections
Russian presidential election, 2012
The 2012 Russian presidential elections are to be held on 4 March 2012.According to a "Levada Center" opinion poll from September 2011, 41% of Russians wanted to see Putin be a candidate in the 2012 elections as opposed to 22% for Medvedev, while 10% wanted someone else and 28% were unsure.On 30...

.

Putin is credited with bringing political stability and re-establishing the rule of law in the country. He successfully restored the territorial integrity of Russia in the Second Chechen War
Second Chechen War
The Second Chechen War, in a later phase better known as the War in the North Caucasus, was launched by the Russian Federation starting 26 August 1999, in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade ....

. During Putin's presidency, Russia's economy bounced back from crisis, growing for nine straight years and seeing GDP increase by 72% in PPP
Purchasing power parity
In economics, purchasing power parity is a condition between countries where an amount of money has the same purchasing power in different countries. The prices of the goods between the countries would only reflect the exchange rates...

 (sixfold in nominal), poverty decrease by more than 50%, and average monthly salaries increase from $80 to $640. These achievements were ascribed to strong macroeconomic management, important fiscal policy reforms and a confluence of high oil prices, surging capital inflows and access to low-cost external financing, and were described as impressive by analysts.

During his presidency, Putin passed into law a series of fundamental reforms, including a flat income tax
Income tax
An income tax is a tax levied on the income of individuals or businesses . Various income tax systems exist, with varying degrees of tax incidence. Income taxation can be progressive, proportional, or regressive. When the tax is levied on the income of companies, it is often called a corporate...

 of 13%, a reduced profits tax, and new land and legal codes. He put much effort into development of the energy policy of Russia
Energy policy of Russia
The Energy policy of Russia is contained in an Energy Strategy document, which sets out policy for the period up to 2020. In 2000 the Russian government approved the main provisions of the Russian energy strategy to 2020, and in 2003 the new Russian energy strategy was confirmed by the government...

, affirming Russia's position as an energy superpower
Energy superpower
The term energy superpower does not have a clear definition. It has come to be used to refer to a nation that supplies large amounts of energy resources to a significant number of other states, and which therefore has the potential to influence world markets to gain a political or economic...

. This included the renaissance of the nuclear industry in the country
Nuclear power in Russia
In 2010 total electricity generated in nuclear power plants in Russia was 170.1 TWh, 16% of all power generation. The installed capacity of Russian nuclear reactors stood at 21,244 MW....

 and the initiation of construction of several major export pipeline
Pipeline transport
Pipeline transport is the transportation of goods through a pipe. Most commonly, liquids and gases are sent, but pneumatic tubes that transport solid capsules using compressed air are also used....

s, including ESPO and Nord Stream, among other megaprojects in Russia.

While many reforms and actions made during the Putin presidency have been criticized by Western observers and domestic opposition as un-democratic, Putin's leadership over the return of order, stability, and progress has won him widespread popularity in Russia. Putin often supports a tough guy
Macho
Macho typically refers to machismo. Other uses include:*Macho , a short-lived disco group in the late 1970s*Pique macho, Bolivian dish*Macho Man , a 1978 disco song performed by the Village People...

 image in the media, demonstrating his physical capabilities and taking part in unusual or dangerous acts, such as extreme sports and interaction with wild animals. A judo
Judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

ka and a Champion of Leningrad
Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

 in his youth, Putin has played a major role in development of sport in Russia
Sport in Russia
Russia is a keen sporting country, successful at a number of sports and continuously finishing in the top rankings at the Olympic games. During the Soviet era the team placed first in the total number of medals won at 14 of its 18 appearances; with these performances, the USSR was the dominant...

, notably, helping the city of Sochi
Sochi
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, situated just north of Russia's border with the de facto independent republic of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast. Greater Sochi sprawls for along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains...

 to win the bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics
2014 Winter Olympics
The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics, is a major international multi-sport event scheduled to be celebrated from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia with some events held in the resort town of Krasnaya Polyana. Both the Olympic and...

.

Early life and education


Putin was born on October 7, 1952, in Leningrad
Leningrad
Leningrad is the former name of Saint Petersburg, Russia.Leningrad may also refer to:- Places :* Leningrad Oblast, a federal subject of Russia, around Saint Petersburg* Leningrad, Tajikistan, capital of Muminobod district in Khatlon Province...

, RSFSR
Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic
The Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic , commonly referred to as Soviet Russia, Bolshevik Russia, or simply Russia, was the largest, most populous and economically developed republic in the former Soviet Union....

, USSR
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 (now Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Russian Federation
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

), to parents Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin (1911–1999) and Maria Ivanovna Putina (1911–1998). His mother was a factory worker, and his father was a conscript
Conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

 in the Soviet Navy
Soviet Navy
The Soviet Navy was the naval arm of the Soviet Armed Forces. Often referred to as the Red Fleet, the Soviet Navy would have played an instrumental role in a Warsaw Pact war with NATO, where it would have attempted to prevent naval convoys from bringing reinforcements across the Atlantic Ocean...

, where he served in the submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 fleet in the early 1930s, Two elder brothers were born in the mid-1930s; one died within a few months of birth, while the second succumbed to diphtheria
Diphtheria
Diphtheria is an upper respiratory tract illness caused by Corynebacterium diphtheriae, a facultative anaerobic, Gram-positive bacterium. It is characterized by sore throat, low fever, and an adherent membrane on the tonsils, pharynx, and/or nasal cavity...

 during the siege of Leningrad
Siege of Leningrad
The Siege of Leningrad, also known as the Leningrad Blockade was a prolonged military operation resulting from the failure of the German Army Group North to capture Leningrad, now known as Saint Petersburg, in the Eastern Front theatre of World War II. It started on 8 September 1941, when the last...

. His paternal grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Putin (1879–1965), was employed at Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Lenin
Vladimir Ilyich Lenin was a Russian Marxist revolutionary and communist politician who led the October Revolution of 1917. As leader of the Bolsheviks, he headed the Soviet state during its initial years , as it fought to establish control of Russia in the Russian Civil War and worked to create a...

's dacha
Dacha
Dacha is a Russian word for seasonal or year-round second homes often located in the exurbs of Soviet and post-Soviet cities. Cottages or shacks serving as family's main or only home are not considered dachas, although many purpose-built dachas are recently being converted for year-round residence...

 at Gorki
Gorki Leninskiye
Gorki Leninskiye is an urban locality in Leninsky District of Moscow Oblast, Russia, south of Moscow city limits and the MKAD. Population:...

 as a cook, and after Lenin's death in 1924, he continued to work for Lenin's wife, Nadezhda Krupskaya. He would later cook for Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 when the Soviet leader visited one of his dachas in the Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 region. Spiridon later was employed at a dacha belonging to the Moscow City Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

, at which the young Putin would visit him.

His autobiography, Ot Pervogo Litsa (English: In the First Person), which is based on Putin's interviews, speaks of humble beginnings, including early years in a communal apartment in Leningrad. On 1 September 1960, he started at School No. 193 at Baskov Lane, just across from his house. By fifth grade he was one of a few in a class of more than 45 pupils who was not yet a member of the Pioneers
Young Pioneer organization of the Soviet Union
The Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union, also Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization The Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union, also Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer Organization The Young Pioneer Organization of the Soviet Union, also Vladimir Lenin All-Union Pioneer...

, largely because of his rowdy behavior. In sixth grade he started taking sport seriously in the form of sambo
Sambo (martial art)
Sambo is a Russian martial art and combat sport. The word "SAMBO" is an acronym for SAMooborona Bez Oruzhiya, which literally translates as "self-defense without weapons". Sambo is relatively modern since its development began in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army to improve their hand to hand...

 and then judo
Judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

. In his youth, Putin was eager to emulate the intelligence officer characters played on the Soviet screen
Cinema of the Soviet Union
The cinema of the Soviet Union, not to be confused with "Cinema of Russia" despite Russian language films being predominant in both genres, includes several film contributions of the constituent republics of the Soviet Union reflecting elements of their pre-Soviet culture, language and history,...

 by actors such as Vyacheslav Tikhonov
Vyacheslav Tikhonov
Vyacheslav Vasilyevich Tikhonov was a Soviet and Russian actor whose best known role was as Soviet spy Stirlitz in the television series Seventeen Moments of Spring. He was a recipient of numerous state awards, including the titles of People's Artist of the USSR and Hero of Socialist Labour .-...

 and Georgiy Zhzhonov
Georgiy Zhzhonov
Georgiy Stepanovich Zhzhonov was a Soviet actor and writer.Having matriculated from the Leningrad Circus Tekhnikum in 1932, he appeared in several movies, including the legendary Chapaev ....

.


Putin graduated from the International Law branch of the Law Department of the Leningrad State University
Saint Petersburg State University
Saint Petersburg State University is a Russian federal state-owned higher education institution based in Saint Petersburg and one of the oldest and largest universities in Russia....

 in 1975, writing his final thesis on international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

. While at university he became a member of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union
Communist Party of the Soviet Union
The Communist Party of the Soviet Union was the only legal, ruling political party in the Soviet Union and one of the largest communist organizations in the world...

, and remained a member until the party was dissolved in December 1991. Also at the University he met Anatoly Sobchak
Anatoly Sobchak
Anatoly Alexandrovich Sobchak was a Russian politician, a co-author of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the first democratically elected mayor of Saint Petersburg, and a mentor and teacher of both Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev....

 who later played an important role in Putin's career. Anatoly Sobchak was at the time an Assistant Professor and lectured Putin's class on Business Law (khozyaystvennoye pravo).

KGB career


Putin joined the KGB
KGB
The KGB was the commonly used acronym for the . It was the national security agency of the Soviet Union from 1954 until 1991, and was the premier internal security, intelligence, and secret police organization during that time.The State Security Agency of the Republic of Belarus currently uses the...

 in 1975 upon graduation from university, and underwent a year's training at the 401st KGB school in Okhta
Okhta
-Geography:*Okhta River , a river in Russia*Bolshaya Okhta and Malaya Okhta, municipal okrugs of Saint Petersburg, Russia-Buildings:*Okhta Center, a future business center in Saint Petersburg, Russia...

, Leningrad. He then went on to work briefly in the Second Chief Directorate (counter-intelligence
Counter-intelligence
Counterintelligence or counter-intelligence refers to efforts made by intelligence organizations to prevent hostile or enemy intelligence organizations from successfully gathering and collecting intelligence against them. National intelligence programs, and, by extension, the overall defenses of...

) before he was transferred to the First Chief Directorate
First Chief Directorate
The First Chief Directorate , of the Committee for State Security , was the organization responsible for foreign operations and intelligence collection activities by the training and management of the covert agents, intelligence collection management, and the collection of political, scientific and...

, where among his duties was the monitoring of foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad, while using the cover of being a police officer with the CID.

From 1985 to 1990, the KGB stationed Putin in Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

, East Germany. Following the collapse of the East German regime, Putin was recalled to the Soviet Union and returned to Leningrad, where in June 1991 he assumed a position with the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov
Yuriy Molchanov
Yury Vyacheslavovich Molchanov is a Russian businessman and politician.From 1987 to 1999, he was the Deputy Rector of Saint Petersburg State University...

. In his new position, Putin maintained surveillance on the student body and kept an eye out for recruits. It was during his stint at the university that Putin grew reacquainted with Anatoly Sobchak
Anatoly Sobchak
Anatoly Alexandrovich Sobchak was a Russian politician, a co-author of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the first democratically elected mayor of Saint Petersburg, and a mentor and teacher of both Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev....

, then mayor of Leningrad. Sobchak served as an assistant professor during Putin's university years and was one of Putin's lecturers. Putin resigned from the active state security services at the beginning of 1992, after the defeat of the KGB-supported abortive putsch
Soviet coup attempt of 1991
The 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt , also known as the August Putsch or August Coup , was an attempt by a group of members of the Soviet Union's government to take control of the country from Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev...

 against Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

.


Early political career


In May 1990, Putin was appointed Mayor Sobchak's advisor on international affairs. On 28 June 1991, he was appointed head of the Committee for External Relations of the Saint Petersburg Mayor's Office
Saint Petersburg City Administration
Saint Petersburg City Administration is the superior executive body of Saint Petersburg , Russian Federation. It is located in a historic building, Smolny....

, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments. The Committee was also used to register business ventures in Saint Petersburg. Less than one year after taking control of the committee, Putin was investigated by a commission of the city legislative council. Commission deputies Marina Salye
Marina Salye
Marina Yevgenyevna Salye is a Russian geologist and politician, former deputy of the legislative assembly of Leningrad. She was also a people's deputy in the Congress of People's Deputies of the RSFSR until September 1993, when the congress was dissolved...

 and Yury Gladkov
Yury Gladkov
Yury Pavlovich Gladkov was a Saint Petersburg politician.Since 1990 he has been a member of St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly and its predecessors. In 2003 he became the Deputy of its Speaker.-External links:*...

 concluded that Putin understated prices and issued licenses permitting the export of non-ferrous metals valued at a total of $93 million in exchange for food aid from abroad that never came to the city. The commission recommended Putin be fired, but there were no immediate consequences. Putin remained head of the Committee for External Relations until 1996.

From 1994 to 1997, Putin was appointed to additional positions in the Saint Petersburg political arena. In March 1994 he became first deputy head of the administration of the city of Saint Petersburg. In 1995 (through June 1997) Putin led the Saint Petersburg branch of the pro-government Our Home Is Russia
Our Home Is Russia
Our Home – Russia , abbreviated as NDR, was a Russian political party between 1995 and early 2000.Our Home – Russia was founded in 1995 by then Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. It was a liberal, centrist political movement, founded for the purpose of rallying more technocratic-reformist...

 political party. During this same period from 1995 through June 1997 he was also the head of the Advisory Board of the JSC Newspaper Sankt-Peterburgskie Vedomosti
Sankt-Peterburgskie Vedomosti
The Vedomosti was the first newspaper printed in Russia. It was established by Peter the Great's ukase dated 16 December 1702. The first issue appeared on 2 January 1703.- Petrine Vedomosti :...

.

In 1996, Anatoly Sobchak
Anatoly Sobchak
Anatoly Alexandrovich Sobchak was a Russian politician, a co-author of the Constitution of the Russian Federation, the first democratically elected mayor of Saint Petersburg, and a mentor and teacher of both Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev....

 lost the Saint Petersburg mayoral election to Vladimir Yakovlev
Vladimir Anatolyevich Yakovlev
Vladimir Anatolyevich Yakovlev is a Russian politician, currently retired.In 1996–2003, he was the Governor of Saint Petersburg. In 2003-2004, prior to the Beslan school hostage crisis, he was Presidential Plenipotentiary Envoy to the Southern Federal District...

. Putin was called to Moscow and in June 1996 assumed position of a Deputy Chief of the Presidential Property Management Department headed by Pavel Borodin
Pavel Borodin
Pavel Pavlovich Borodin is a Russian official and politician.Born in the town of Shakhunya, near the city of Nizhny in the Nizhny Novgorod Region....

. He occupied this position until March 1997. During his tenure Putin was responsible for the foreign property of the state and organized transfer of the former assets of the Soviet Union and Communist Party to the Russian Federation.

On 27 June 1997, at the Saint Petersburg Mining Institute
Saint Petersburg Mining Institute
The G. V. Plekhanov Saint Petersburg State Mining Institute and Technical University is Russia's oldest higher education institute devoted to engineering...

 Putin defended his Candidate of Science dissertation in economics titled "The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations".

On 26 March 1997 President Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

 appointed Putin deputy chief of Presidential Staff, which he remained until May 1998, and chief of the Main Control Directorate of the Presidential Property Management Department (until June 1998). His predecessor on this position was Alexei Kudrin
Alexei Kudrin
Alexei Leonidovich Kudrin was the Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia from 18 May 2000 to 26 September 2011. After graduating with degrees in finance and economics, Kudrin worked in the administration of Saint Petersburg's liberal Mayor Anatoly Sobchak. In 1996 he started...

 and the successor was Nikolai Patrushev both future prominent politicians and Putin's associates.

On 25 May 1998, Putin was appointed First Deputy Chief of Presidential Staff for regions, replacing Viktoriya Mitina
Viktoriya Mitina
Viktoria Alexandrovna Mitina is a Russian politician.In 1998, 1991 and 1996 she was a representative of Boris Yeltsin during the parliamentary and presidential elections...

; and, on 15 July, the Head of the Commission for the preparation of agreements on the delimitation of power of regions and the federal center attached to the President, replacing Sergey Shakhray
Sergey Shakhray
Sergey Mikhaylovich Shakhray is a Russian politician.December 1991 – March 1992, November 1992 – January 1994, April 1994 - January 1996: Deputy Prime Minister of Russia.- External links :...

. After Putin's appointment, the commission completed no such agreements, although during Shakhray's term as the Head of the Commission there were 46 agreements signed. Later, after becoming President Putin canceled all those agreements.

On 25 July 1998 Yeltsin appointed Vladimir Putin head of the FSB (one of the successor agencies to the KGB), the position Putin occupied until August 1999. He became a permanent member of the Security Council of the Russian Federation on 1 October 1998 and its Secretary on 29 March 1999. In April 1999, FSB Chief Vladimir Putin and Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin
Sergei Stepashin
Sergei Vadimovich Stepashin is a Russian politician, current Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation and former Prime Minister of Russia. He was appointed federal security minister by President Boris Yeltsin in 1994...

 held a televised press conference in which they discussed a video that had aired nationwide 17 March on the state-controlled Russia TV channel
Russia TV Channel
Rossiya 1 is a state-owned Russian television channel founded in 1991. It belongs to the All-Russia State Television and Radio Company ....

 which showed a naked man very similar to the Prosecutor General of Russia
Prosecutor General of Russia
The Prosecutor General of Russia heads the system of official prosecution in courts known as the Office of the Prosecutor General of Russian Federation ....

, Yury Skuratov
Yury Skuratov
Yury Ilyich Skuratov is a Russian lawyer and politician.From 1995 till 1999 he was Prosecutor General of Russia.In February 1999, he disclosed the existence of FIMACO....

, in bed with two young women. Putin claimed that expert FSB analysis proved the man on the tape to be Skuratov and that the orgy had been paid for by persons investigated for criminal offences. Skuratov had been adversarial toward President Yeltsin and had been aggressively investigating government corruption.

On 15 June 2000, The Times
The Times
The Times is a British daily national newspaper, first published in London in 1785 under the title The Daily Universal Register . The Times and its sister paper The Sunday Times are published by Times Newspapers Limited, a subsidiary since 1981 of News International...

reported that Spanish police discovered that Putin had secretly visited a villa in Spain belonging to the oligarch Boris Berezovsky on up to five different occasions in 1999.

1st Premiership (1999–2000)


On 9 August 1999, Vladimir Putin was appointed one of three First Deputy Prime Ministers, which enabled him later on that day, as the previous government led by Sergei Stepashin
Sergei Stepashin
Sergei Vadimovich Stepashin is a Russian politician, current Chairman of the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation and former Prime Minister of Russia. He was appointed federal security minister by President Boris Yeltsin in 1994...

 had been sacked, to be appointed acting Prime Minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by President Boris Yeltsin
Boris Yeltsin
Boris Nikolayevich Yeltsin was the first President of the Russian Federation, serving from 1991 to 1999.Originally a supporter of Mikhail Gorbachev, Yeltsin emerged under the perestroika reforms as one of Gorbachev's most powerful political opponents. On 29 May 1990 he was elected the chairman of...

. Yeltsin also announced that he wanted to see Putin as his successor. Later, that same day, Putin agreed to run for the presidency. On 16 August, the State Duma
State Duma
The State Duma , common abbreviation: Госду́ма ) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia , the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. The Duma headquarters is located in central Moscow, a few steps from Manege Square. Its members are referred to...

 approved his appointment as Prime Minister with 233 votes in favour (vs. 84 against, 17 abstained), while a simple majority of 226 was required, making him Russia's fifth PM in fewer than eighteen months. On his appointment, few expected Putin, virtually unknown to the general public, to last any longer than his predecessors. He was initially regarded as a Yeltsin loyalist; like other prime ministers of Boris Yeltsin, Putin did not choose ministers himself, his cabinet being determined by the presidential administration. Yeltsin's main opponents and would-be successors, Moscow Mayor Yuriy Luzhkov
Yuriy Luzhkov
Yury Mikhaylovich Luzhkov is a Russian politician who was the Mayor of Moscow from 1992 to 2010. He was also vice-chairman and one of the founders of the ruling United Russia party....

 and former Chairman of the Russian Government Yevgeniy Primakov, were already campaigning to replace the ailing president, and they fought hard to prevent Putin's emergence as a potential successor. Putin's law-and-order
Law and order (politics)
In politics, law and order refers to demands for a strict criminal justice system, especially in relation to violent and property crime, through harsher criminal penalties...

 image and his unrelenting approach to the renewed crisis in Chechnya
Second Chechen War
The Second Chechen War, in a later phase better known as the War in the North Caucasus, was launched by the Russian Federation starting 26 August 1999, in response to the Invasion of Dagestan by the Islamic International Peacekeeping Brigade ....

 soon combined to raise his popularity and allowed him to overtake all rivals.

Putin's rise to public office in August 1999 coincided with an aggressive resurgence of the near-dormant conflict in the North Caucasus, when a number of Chechens invaded a neighboring region starting the War in Dagestan. Both in Russia and abroad, Putin's public image was forged by his tough handling of the war. On assuming the role of acting President on 31 December 1999, Putin went on a previously scheduled visit to Russian troops in Chechnya. In 2003, a controversial referendum was held in Chechnya adopting a new constitution which declares the Republic as a part of Russia. Chechnya has been gradually stabilized with the parliamentary elections and the establishment of a regional government. Throughout the war Russia has severely disabled the Chechen rebel movement, although sporadic violence still occurs throughout the North Caucasus.

While not formally associated with any party, Putin pledged his support to the newly formed Unity Party, which won the second largest percentage of the popular vote (23.3%) in the December 1999 Duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

 elections, and in turn he was supported by it.

First term (2000–2004)



His rise to Russia's highest office ended up being even more rapid: on 31 December 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the constitution, Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation
Acting President of the Russian Federation
The Acting President of the Russian Federation is a temporary post provided by the Constitution of Russia. Acting President is a person who fulfills the duties of President of the Russian Federation when cases of incapacity and vacancy occur...

.

The first Decree that Putin signed 31 December 1999, was the one "On guarantees for former president of the Russian Federation and members of his family". This ensured that "corruption charges against the outgoing President and his relatives" would not be pursued, although this claim is not strictly verifiable. Later on 12 February 2001 Putin signed a federal law on guarantees for former presidents and their families, which replaced the similar decree. In 1999, Yeltsin and his family were under scrutiny for charges related to money-laundering by the Russian and Swiss authorities.

While his opponents had been preparing for an election in June 2000, Yeltsin's resignation resulted in the elections being held within three months, in March. Presidential elections
Russian presidential election, 2000
Russian presidential elections were held on 26 March 2000. Incumbent Prime Minister, and acting President Vladimir Putin, who had succeeded Boris Yeltsin on his resignation December 31, 1999, was seeking a four-year term in his own right and won the elections in the first round. Polling stations...

 were held on 26 March 2000; Putin won in the first round.


Vladimir Putin was inaugurated president on 7 May 2000. He appointed Minister of Finance Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Mikhailovich Kasyanov - was the Prime Minister of Russia from May 2000 to February 2004.He is the leader of the People's Democratic Union and an ex-member of the opposition coalition "The Other Russia".-Political career:...

 as his Prime minister. Having announced his intention to consolidate power in the country into a strict vertical, in May 2000 he issued a decree dividing 89 federal subjects of Russia
Federal subjects of Russia
Russia is a federation which, since March 1, 2008, consists of 83 federal subjects . In 1993, when the Constitution was adopted, there were 89 federal subjects listed...

 between 7 federal districts
Federal districts of Russia
The federal districts are a level of administration for the convenience of the federal government of the Russian Federation. They are not the constituent units of Russia . Each district includes several federal subjects and each federal district has a presidential envoy...

 overseen by representatives of him in order to facilitate federal administration. In July 2000, according to a law proposed by him and approved by the Russian parliament
Federal Assembly of Russia
The Federal Assembly of Russia is the legislature of the Russian Federation, according to the Constitution of Russian Federation, 1993...

, Putin also gained the right to dismiss heads of the federal subjects.

During his first term in office, he moved to curb the political ambitions of some of the Yeltsin-era oligarchs such as former Kremlin insider Boris Berezovsky, who had "helped Mr. Putin enter the family, and funded the party that formed Mr. Putin's parliamentary base", according to BBC profile. At the same time, according to Vladimir Solovyev
Vladimir Solovyov (journalist)
Vladimir Rudol'fovich Solovyov is a popular Russian TV and radio journalist. He graduated from the Moscow Institute of Steel and Alloys and completed post-doc position at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations...

, it was Alexey Kudrin who was instrumental in Putin's assignment to the Presidential Administration of Russia
Presidential Administration of Russia
The Presidential Administration of Russia ) is the executive office of Russia's president created by a decree of Boris Yeltsin on 19 July 1991 as an institution supporting the activity of the president and vice-president The Presidential Administration of Russia (also known as Staff of Russia’s...

 to work with Pavel Borodin
Pavel Borodin
Pavel Pavlovich Borodin is a Russian official and politician.Born in the town of Shakhunya, near the city of Nizhny in the Nizhny Novgorod Region....

, and according to Solovyev, Berezovsky was proposing Igor Ivanov
Igor Ivanov
Igor Sergeyevich Ivanov is a Russian politician and was Russian Foreign Minister from 1998 to 2004.- Early life :...

 rather than Putin as a new president. A new group of business magnates
Political groups during Vladimir Putin's presidency
A diverse variety of informal political groups emerged during the presidency of Vladimir Putin. They include remnants of the so-called the Yeltsin Family, Sankt Petersburg lawyers and -economists, and security-intelligence elements called the siloviki.-Background:...

, such as Gennady Timchenko
Gennady Timchenko
Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko Gennady Nikolayevich Timchenko (also spelled Guennadi Timtchenko; (born 1952) is a prominent businessman, active in the energy trading business, citizen of Finland, currently living in Geneva, Switzerland....

, Vladimir Yakunin
Vladimir Yakunin
Vladimir Ivanovich Yakunin is a Russian official, president of state-run Russian Railways company. Yakunin is a close ally of the former Russian president Vladimir Putin and is considered to be one of the members of his inner circle.-Biography:...

, Yuriy Kovalchuk
Yuriy Kovalchuk
Yury Valentinovich Kovalchuk is a Russian businessman and financier "reputed to be Putin's personal banker". The May 2008 issue of Russian Forbes listed him for the first time in its Golden Hundred of Russia's richest and introduced him and another new entrant to the List, Gennady Timchenko, as...

, Sergey Chemezov
Sergey Chemezov
Sergey Viktorovich Chemezov is a former KGB agent and later Russian businessman and official.In 1983–1988 he worked as an undercover KGB agent in an obscure company in Dresden, East Germany, where his neighbor was KGB officer Vladimir Putin....

, with close personal ties to Putin, emerged.

Russia's legal reform continued productively during Putin's first term. In particular, Putin succeeded in the codification of land law and tax law, where progress had been slow during Yeltsin's administration, because of Communist and oligarch opposition, respectively. Other legal reforms included new codes on labour, administrative, criminal, commercial and civil procedural law, as well as a major statute on the Bar.

The first major challenge to Putin's popularity came in August 2000, when he was criticised for his alleged mishandling of the Kursk submarine disaster
Russian submarine Kursk explosion
On 12 August 2000, the Russian Oscar II class submarine Kursk sank in the Barents Sea after an explosion. The investigation showed that a leak of hydrogen peroxide in a torpedo led to explosion of its fuel, causing the submarine to hit the bottom which in turn triggered the detonation of further...

.

In December 2000, Putin sanctioned the law to change the National Anthem of Russia
National Anthem of Russia
The National Anthem of the Russian Federation is the name of the official national anthem of Russia. Its musical composition and lyrics were adopted from the anthem of the Soviet Union, composed by Alexander Alexandrov, and lyricists Sergey Mikhalkov and Gabriel El-Registan. The Soviet anthem was...

. At the time the Anthem had music by Glinka
Mikhail Glinka
Mikhail Ivanovich Glinka , was the first Russian composer to gain wide recognition within his own country, and is often regarded as the father of Russian classical music...

 and no words. The change was to restore (with a minor modification) the music of the post-1944 Soviet anthem by Alexandrov
Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov
Alexander Vasilyevich Alexandrov was a Russian Soviet composer, the founder of the Alexandrov Ensemble, who wrote the music for the national anthem of the Soviet Union, which, in 2001, became the anthem of Russia . During his career, he also worked as a professor of the Moscow State Conservatory,...

, while the new text was composed by Mikhalkov
Sergey Mikhalkov
Sergey Vladimirovich Mikhalkov was a Soviet and Russian author of children's books and satirical fables who had the opportunity to write the lyrics of his country's national anthem on three different occasions, spanning almost 60 years.-Life and career:...

.

Many in the Russian press and in the international media warned that the death of some 130 hostages in the special forces' rescue operation during the 2002 Moscow theater hostage crisis
Moscow theater hostage crisis
The Moscow theater hostage crisis, also known as the 2002 Nord-Ost siege, was the seizure of the crowded Dubrovka Theater on 23 October 2002 by some 40 to 50 armed Chechens who claimed allegiance to the Islamist militant separatist movement in Chechnya. They took 850 hostages and demanded the...

 would severely damage President Putin's popularity. However, shortly after the siege had ended, the Russian president was enjoying record public approval ratings – 83% of Russians declared themselves satisfied with Putin and his handling of the siege.

The arrest
Arrest
An arrest is the act of depriving a person of his or her liberty usually in relation to the purported investigation and prevention of crime and presenting into the criminal justice system or harm to oneself or others...

 in early July 2003 of Platon Lebedev
Platon Lebedev
Platon Leonidovich Lebedev is a former CEO of Group Menatep, currently imprisoned in Russia, and is best known as a close associate of Mikhail Khodorkovsky.-Conviction:...

, a Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky is a Russian prisoner, considered by some - such as Amnesty International - to have been imprisoned for political reasons, jailed until 2016 and a former Russian oligarch and businessman...

 partner and second largest shareholder in Yukos
YUKOS
OJSC "Yukos Oil Company" was a petroleum company in Russia which, until 2003, was controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and a number of other prominent Russian businessmen. After Yukos was bankrupted, Khodorkovsky was convicted and sent to prison.Yukos headquarters was located in...

, on suspicion of illegally acquiring a stake in a state-owned fertilizer
Fertilizer
Fertilizer is any organic or inorganic material of natural or synthetic origin that is added to a soil to supply one or more plant nutrients essential to the growth of plants. A recent assessment found that about 40 to 60% of crop yields are attributable to commercial fertilizer use...

 firm, Apatit
Apatit
Apatit JSC is a Russia-based company engaged in the extraction of mineral raw materials for manufacture of chemicals and fertilizers....

, in 1994, foreshadowed what by the end of the year became a full-fledged prosecution of Yukos and its management for fraud, embezzlement, and tax evasion.

A few months before the elections, Putin fired Kasyanov's cabinet and appointed Mikhail Fradkov
Mikhail Fradkov
Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov is a Russian politician and statesman who was the Prime Minister of Russia from March 2004 to September 2007. Fradkov has been the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service since 2007.-Early life:...

 to his place. Sergey Ivanov became the first civilian in Russia to take Defense Minister position.

Second term (2004–2008)



On 14 March 2004, Putin was re-elected
Russian presidential election, 2004
Presidential elections were held in Russia on 14 March 2004. Incumbent Vladimir Putin was seeking a second full four-year term. He was re-elected with 71.31% of the vote.-Sergey Glazyev:...

 to the presidency for a second term, receiving 71% of the vote.

By the beginning of Putin's second term he had been accused of undermining independent sources of political power in Russia, decreasing the degree of pluralism in the Russian society.

Following the Beslan school hostage crisis
Beslan school hostage crisis
The Beslan school hostage crisis of early September 2004 was a three-day hostage-taking of over 1,100 people which ended in the deaths of over 380...

, in September 2004 Putin suggested the creation of the Public Chamber of Russia
Public Chamber of Russia
The Public Chamber is a state institution with 126 members created in 2005 in Russia to analyze draft legislation and monitor the activities of the parliament, government and other government bodies of Russia and its Federal Subjects. It has a role similar to an oversight committee and has...

 and launched an initiative to replace the direct election of the Governors and Presidents of the Federal subjects of Russia
Federal subjects of Russia
Russia is a federation which, since March 1, 2008, consists of 83 federal subjects . In 1993, when the Constitution was adopted, there were 89 federal subjects listed...

 with a system whereby they would be proposed by the President and approved or disapproved by regional legislature
Legislature
A legislature is a kind of deliberative assembly with the power to pass, amend, and repeal laws. The law created by a legislature is called legislation or statutory law. In addition to enacting laws, legislatures usually have exclusive authority to raise or lower taxes and adopt the budget and...

s. He also initiated the merger of a number of federal subjects of Russia into larger entities. Whilst some in Beslan
Beslan
Beslan is a town and the administrative center of Pravoberezhny District of the Republic of North Ossetia–Alania, Russia. In terms of population, Beslan is the third largest town in the republic behind Vladikavkaz and Mozdok...

 blamed Putin personally for the massacre in which hundreds died, his overall popularity in Russia did not suffer.

According to various Russian and western media reports, one of the major domestic issue concerns for President Putin were the problems arising from the ongoing demographic and social trends in Russia
Demographics of Russia
The demographics of Russia is about the demographic features of the population of the Russian Federation, including population growth, population density, ethnic composition, education level, health, economic status, and other aspects of the population....

, such as the death rate being higher than the birth rate, cyclical poverty, and housing concerns. In 2005, National Priority Projects
National Priority Projects
The National Priority Projects of the Russian Federation is a program of the Russian government set out by Russian President Vladimir Putin in his speech on September 5, 2005. The program is aimed to develop social welfare in Russia by additional funding by the state of four selected projects...

were launched in the fields of health care, education
Education in Russia
Education in Russia is provided predominantly by the state and is regulated by the federal Ministry of Education and Science. Regional authorities regulate education within their jurisdictions within the prevailing framework of federal laws. In 2004 state spending for education amounted to 3.6% of...

, housing and agriculture. In his May 2006 annual speech, Putin proposed increasing maternity benefits and prenatal care
Prenatal care
Prenatal care refers to the medical and nursing care recommended for women before and during pregnancy. The aim of good prenatal care is to detect any potential problems early, to prevent them if possible , and to direct the woman to appropriate specialists, hospitals, etc...

 for women. Putin was strident about the need to reform the judiciary considering the present federal judiciary "Sovietesque", wherein many of the judges hand down the same verdicts as they would under the old Soviet judiciary structure, and preferring instead a judiciary that interpreted and implemented the code to the current situation. In 2005, responsibility for federal prisons was transferred from the Ministry of Internal Affairs to the Ministry of Justice. The most high-profile change within the national priority project frameworks was probably the 2006 across-the-board increase in wages in healthcare and education, as well as the decision to modernise equipment in both sectors in 2006 and 2007.

One of the most controversial aspects of Putin's second term was the continuation of the criminal prosecution of Russia's richest man, Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Mikhail Khodorkovsky
Mikhail Borisovich Khodorkovsky is a Russian prisoner, considered by some - such as Amnesty International - to have been imprisoned for political reasons, jailed until 2016 and a former Russian oligarch and businessman...

, President of YUKOS
YUKOS
OJSC "Yukos Oil Company" was a petroleum company in Russia which, until 2003, was controlled by Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky and a number of other prominent Russian businessmen. After Yukos was bankrupted, Khodorkovsky was convicted and sent to prison.Yukos headquarters was located in...

, for fraud and tax evasion
Tax evasion
Tax evasion is the general term for efforts by individuals, corporations, trusts and other entities to evade taxes by illegal means. Tax evasion usually entails taxpayers deliberately misrepresenting or concealing the true state of their affairs to the tax authorities to reduce their tax liability,...

. While much of the international press saw this as a reaction against Khodorkovsky's funding for political opponents of the Kremlin, both liberal and communist, the Russian government had argued that Khodorkovsky was engaged in corrupting a large segment of the Duma to prevent changes in the tax code aimed at taxing windfall profits and closing offshore tax evasion vehicles
Tax haven
A tax haven is a state or a country or territory where certain taxes are levied at a low rate or not at all while offering due process, good governance and a low corruption rate....

. Khodorkovsky's arrest was met positively by the Russian public, who see the oligarchs as thieves who were unjustly enriched and robbed the country of its natural wealth. Many of the initial privatizations, including that of Yukos, are widely believed to have been fraudulent– Yukos, valued at some $30 billion in 2004, had been privatized for $110 million– and like other oligarchic groups, the Yukos-Menatep name has been frequently tarred with accusations of links to criminal organizations. Tim Osborne of GML, the majority owner of Yukos, said in February 2008: "Despite claims by President Vladimir Putin that the Kremlin had no interest in bankrupting Yukos, the company's assets were auctioned at below-market value. In addition, new debts suddenly emerged out of nowhere, preventing the company from surviving. The main beneficiary of these tactics was Rosneft. The Yukos affair marked a turning point in Russia's commitment to domestic property rights and the rule of law." The fate of Yukos was seen by western media as a sign of a broader shift toward a system normally described as state capitalism
State capitalism
The term State capitalism has various meanings, but is usually described as commercial economic activity undertaken by the state with management of the productive forces in a capitalist manner, even if the state is nominally socialist. State capitalism is usually characterized by the dominance or...

, Against the backdrop of the Yukos saga, questions were raised about the actual destination of $13.1 billion remitted in October 2005 by the state-run Gazprom
Gazprom
Open Joint Stock Company Gazprom is the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company. Its headquarters are in Cheryomushki District, South-Western Administrative Okrug, Moscow...

 as payment for 75.7% stake in Sibneft to Millhouse-controlled offshore
Offshore bank
An offshore bank is a bank located outside the country of residence of the depositor, typically in a low tax jurisdiction that provides financial and legal advantages. These advantages typically include:...

 accounts, after a series of generous dividend payouts and another $3 billion received from Yukos in a failed merger in 2003. In 1996, Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich
Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is a Russian businessman and the main owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC.In 2003, Abramovich was named Person of the Year by Expert, a Russian business magazine. He shared this title with Mikhail Khodorkovsky...

 and Boris Berezovsky had acquired the controlling interest in Sibneft for $100 million within the controversial loans-for-shares program. Some prominent Yeltsin-era businessmen, such as Sergey Pugachyov
Sergey Pugachyov
Sergey Viktorovich Pugachyov is a Russian "oligarch", formerly also a politician.-Early life:The son of an army officer, Pugachyov was brought up in Saint Petersburg, where he studied art. As a young man, he became a friend of Vladimir Putin....

, are reported to continue to enjoy close relationship with Putin's Kremlin.

Although Russia's state intervention in the economy had been usually heavily criticized in the West, a study by Bank of Finland’s Institute for Economies in Transition (BOFIT) in 2008 showed that state intervention had made a positive impact on the corporate governance
Corporate governance
Corporate governance is a number of processes, customs, policies, laws, and institutions which have impact on the way a company is controlled...

 of many companies in Russia: the formal indications of the quality of corporate governance in Russia were higher in companies with state control or with a stake held by the government.


Since February 2006, the political philosophy of Putin's administration has often been described as a "Sovereign democracy
Sovereign democracy
Sovereign democracy is a term that with regard to Russian politics was first used by Vladislav Surkov on the 22nd of February 2006 in a speech before a gathering of the Russian political party United Russia...

", the term being used both with positive and pejorative connotation
Connotation
A connotation is a commonly understood subjective cultural or emotional association that some word or phrase carries, in addition to the word's or phrase's explicit or literal meaning, which is its denotation....

s. First proposed by Vladislav Surkov
Vladislav Surkov
Vladislav Yuryevich Surkov is a Russian businessman and politician. Currently he is a First Deputy Chief of Staff of the President of the Russian Federation and a top aide to Vladimir Putin. Vladislav Surkov is widely seen as the main ideologist of the Kremlin...

 in February 2006, the term quickly gained currency within Russia and arguably unified various political elites around it. According to its proponents' interpretation, the government's actions and policies ought above all to enjoy popular support within Russia itself and not be determined from outside the country. However, as implied by expert of the Carnegie Endowment Masha Lipman, "Sovereign democracy is a Kremlin coinage that conveys two messages: first, that Russia's regime is democratic and, second, that this claim must be accepted, period. Any attempt at verification will be regarded as unfriendly and as meddling in Russia's domestic affairs."

During the term, Putin was widely criticized in the West and also by Russian liberals for what many observers considered a wide-scale crackdown on media freedom in Russia. Since the early 1990s, a number of Russian reporters who have covered the situation in Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, contentious stories on organized crime, state and administrative officials, and large businesses have been killed. On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Politkovskaya
Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was a Russian journalist, author, and human rights activist known for her opposition to the Chechen conflict and then-President of Russia Vladimir Putin...

, a journalist who ran a campaign exposing corruption in the Russian army
Russian Ground Forces
The Russian Ground Forces are the land forces of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, formed from parts of the collapsing Soviet Army in 1992. The formation of these forces posed economic challenges after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and required reforms to professionalize the force...

 and its conduct in Chechnya
Chechnya
The Chechen Republic , commonly referred to as Chechnya , also spelled Chechnia or Chechenia, sometimes referred to as Ichkeria , is a federal subject of Russia . It is located in the southeastern part of Europe in the Northern Caucasus mountains. The capital of the republic is the city of Grozny...

, was shot in the lobby of her apartment building. The death of Politkovskaya triggered an outcry of criticism of Russia in the Western media, with accusations that, at best, Putin has failed to protect the country's new independent media. When asked about Politkovskaya murder in his interview with the German TV channel ARD
ARD (broadcaster)
ARD is a joint organization of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters...

, Putin said that her murder brings much more harm to the Russian authorities than her publications. In January 2008, Oleg Panfilov, head of the Center for Journalism in Extreme Situations, claimed that a system of "judicial terrorism" had started against journalists under Putin and that more than 300 criminal cases had been opened against them over the past six years.

At the same time, according to 2005 research by VCIOM
VCIOM
All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, VTsIOM, [established in 1987; till 1992 – All-Union Center for the Study of Public Opinion] is the oldest polling institution in the post-Soviet space and is one of the leading sociological and market research companies in Russia.-General...

, the share of Russians approving censorship on TV grew in a year from 63% to 82%; sociologists believed that Russians were not voting in favor of press freedom suppression, but rather for expulsion of ethically doubtful material (such as scenes of violence and sex).

In June 2007, Putin organised a conference for history teachers to promote a high-school teachers manual called A Modern History of Russia: 1945–2006: A Manual for History Teachers which portrays Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 as a cruel but successful leader. Putin said at the conference that the new manual will "help instill young people with a sense of pride in Russia", and he argued that Stalin's purges
Great Purge
The Great Purge was a series of campaigns of political repression and persecution in the Soviet Union orchestrated by Joseph Stalin from 1936 to 1938...

 pale in comparison to the United States' atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
During the final stages of World War II in 1945, the United States conducted two atomic bombings against the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in Japan, the first on August 6, 1945, and the second on August 9, 1945. These two events are the only use of nuclear weapons in war to date.For six months...

. At a memorial for Stalin's victims, Putin said that while Russians should "keep alive the memory of tragedies of the past, we should focus on all that is best in the country".

In a 2007 interview with newspaper journalists from G8 countries, Putin spoke out in favor of a longer presidential term in Russia, saying "a term of five, six or seven years in office would be entirely acceptable".

On 12 September 2007, Russian news agencies reported that Putin dissolved the government upon the request of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov
Mikhail Fradkov
Mikhail Yefimovich Fradkov is a Russian politician and statesman who was the Prime Minister of Russia from March 2004 to September 2007. Fradkov has been the head of Russia's Foreign Intelligence Service since 2007.-Early life:...

. Fradkov commented that it was to give the President a "free hand" to make decisions in the run-up to the parliamentary election. Viktor Zubkov was appointed the new prime minister.

In December 2007, United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

 won 64.24% of the popular vote in their run for State Duma
State Duma
The State Duma , common abbreviation: Госду́ма ) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia , the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. The Duma headquarters is located in central Moscow, a few steps from Manege Square. Its members are referred to...

 according to election preliminary results. Their closest competitor, the Communist Party of Russia
Communist Party of the Russian Federation
The Communist Party of the Russian Federation is a Russian political party. It is the second major political party in the Russian Federation.-History:...

, won approximately 12% of votes. United Russia's victory in December 2007 elections was seen by many as an indication of strong popular support of the then Russian leadership and its policies.

The end of 2007 saw what both Russian and Western analysts viewed as an increasingly bitter infighting between various factions of the silovik
Silovik
Silovik is a Russian word for politicians from the security or military services, often the officers of the former KGB, the FSB, the Federal Narcotics Control Service and military or other security services who came into power...

i
that make up a significant part of Putin's inner circle.

In December 2007, the Russian sociologist Igor Eidman (VCIOM) qualified the regime that had solidified under Putin as "the power of bureaucratic oligarchy
Oligarchy
Oligarchy is a form of power structure in which power effectively rests with an elite class distinguished by royalty, wealth, family ties, commercial, and/or military legitimacy...

" which had "the traits of extreme right-wing dictatorship — the dominance of state-monopoly
State monopoly capitalism
The theory of state monopoly capitalism was initially a Marxist doctrine popularised after World War II. Lenin had claimed in 1916 that World War I had transformed laissez-faire capitalism into monopoly capitalism, but he did not publish any extensive theory about the topic...

 capital in the economy, silovoki structures in governance, clericalism
Clericalism
Clericalism is the application of the formal, church-based, leadership or opinion of ordained clergy in matters of either the church or broader political and sociocultural import...

 and statism
Statism
Statism is a term usually describing a political philosophy, whether of the right or the left, that emphasises the role of the state in politics or supports the use of the state to achieve economic, military or social goals...

 in ideology". Some analysts assess the socio-economic system which has emerged in Russia as profoundly unstable and the situation in the Kremlin after Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

's nomination as fraught with a coup d'état
Coup d'état
A coup d'état state, literally: strike/blow of state)—also known as a coup, putsch, and overthrow—is the sudden, extrajudicial deposition of a government, usually by a small group of the existing state establishment—typically the military—to replace the deposed government with another body; either...

, as "Putin has built a political construction that resembles a pyramid which rests on its tip, rather than on its base".

The Moscow Times
The Moscow Times
The Moscow Times is an English-language daily newspaper published in Moscow, Russia since 1992. The circulation in 2008 stood at 35,000 copies and the newspaper is typically given out for free at places English-language "expats" attend, including hotels, cafés and restaurants, as well as by...

wrote in February 2008: "The main lesson we should have learned from Putin's eight years in office is a recognition that under the traditional Russian political system that he has revitalized, not only do officials not mean what they say, but also that obfuscation is essential to the way it all works... Putin's playing of the Russian political game has been virtuosic." On the eve of his stepping down as president the FT
Financial Times
The Financial Times is an international business newspaper. It is a morning daily newspaper published in London and printed in 24 cities around the world. Its primary rival is the Wall Street Journal, published in New York City....

 editorialised: "Mr. Putin will remain Russia’s real ruler for some time to come. And the ex-KGB men he promoted will stay close to the seat of power."

On 8 February 2008, his Putin delivered a speech before the expanded session of the State Council
State Council of the Russian Federation
The State Council of the Russian Federation is an advisory body to the Head of State, which deals with issues of the highest importance to the state as a whole. The council was established by a decree of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, on September 1, 2000.The current State Council is the...

 headlined "On the Strategy of Russia's Development until 2020", which was interpreted by the Russian media as his "political bequest". The speech was largely devoted to castigating the state of affairs in the 1990s and setting ambitious targets of economic growth by 2020. He also condemned the expansion of NATO and the US plan to include Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

 in a missile defence shield
National Missile Defense
National missile defense is a generic term for a type of missile defense intended to shield an entire country against incoming missiles, such as intercontinental ballistic missile or other ballistic missiles. Interception might be by anti-ballistic missiles or directed-energy weapons such as lasers...

 and promised that "Russia has, and always will have, responses to these new challenges".

In his last days in office Putin was reported to have taken a series of steps to re-align the regional bureaucracy to make the governors report to the prime minister rather than the president. The presidential site explained that "the changes... bear a refining nature and do not affect the essential positions of the system. The key role in estimating the effectiveness of activity of regional authority still belongs to President of the Russian Federation."

Domestic policy


Several government actions made under Putin’s presidency have been criticized by some independent Russian media outlets and many Western commentators as anti-democratic.

In 2007, "Dissenters' Marches" were organized by the opposition group The Other Russia, led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov
Garry Kasparov
Garry Kimovich Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist, and one of the greatest chess players of all time....

 and national-Bolshevist leader Eduard Limonov
Eduard Limonov
Eduard Limonov is Russian writer and political dissident, and is the founder and leader of radical National Bolshevik Party. An opponent of Vladimir Putin, Limonov is one of leaders of Other Russia political bloc.-Early life:...

. Following prior warnings, demonstrations in several Russian cities were met by police action, which included interfering with the travel of the protesters and the arrests of as many as 150 people who attempted to break through police lines. The Dissenters' Marches have received little support among the Russian general public, according to popular polls. The Dissenters' March in Samara held in May 2007 during the Russia-EU summit attracted more journalists providing coverage of the event than actual participants. When asked in what way the Dissenters' Marches bother him, Putin answered that such marches "shall not prevent other citizens from living a normal life". During the Dissenters' March in Saint Petersburg on 3 March 2007, the protesters blocked automobile traffic on Nevsky Prospect, the central street of the city, much to the disturbance of local drivers. The Governor of Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, Valentina Matvienko, commented on the event that "it is important to give everyone the opportunity to criticize the authorities, but this should be done in a civilized fashion". When asked about Kasparov's arrest, Putin replied that during his arrest Kasparov was speaking English rather than Russian, and suggested that he was targeting a Western audience rather than his own people. Putin has said that some domestic critics are being funded and supported by foreign enemies who would prefer to see a weak Russia. In his speech at the United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

 meeting in Luzhniki
Luzhniki
Luzhniki may refer to:*Luzhniki , a village in Moscow Oblast, Russia*Luzhniki Olympic Complex, sport complex in Moscow, Russia.**Luzhniki Palace of Sports, an arena in Luzhniki Olympic Complex...

: "Those who oppose us don't want us to realize our plan.... They need a weak, sick state! They need a disorganized and disoriented society, a divided society, so that they can do their deeds behind its back and eat cake on our tab.".

In its January 2008 World Report, Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

 wrote in the section devoted to Russia: "As parliamentary and presidential elections in late 2007 and early 2008 approached, the administration headed by President Vladimir Putin cracked down on civil society and freedom of assembly. Reconstruction in Chechnya did not mask grave human rights abuses including torture, abductions, and unlawful detentions. International criticism of Russia’s human rights record remains muted, with the European Union failing to challenge Russia on its human rights record in a consistent and sustained manner." The organization called President Putin a "repressive" and "brutal" leader on par with the leaders of Zimbabwe and Pakistan.

On 28 January 2008, Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 in his interview to Interfax "sharply criticized the state of Russia’s electoral system and called for extensive reforms to a system that has secured power for President Vladimir V. Putin and the Kremlin’s inner circle". Following Gorbachev's interview The Washington Post
The Washington Post
The Washington Post is Washington, D.C.'s largest newspaper and its oldest still-existing paper, founded in 1877. Located in the capital of the United States, The Post has a particular emphasis on national politics. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia editions are printed for daily circulation...

s editorial said: "No wonder that Mikhail Gorbachev, the Soviet Union's last leader, felt moved to speak out. "Something wrong is going on with our elections", he told the Interfax agency. But it's not only elections: In fact, the system that Mr. Gorbachev took apart is being meticulously reconstructed." On 21 February 2011, Gorbachev again criticized Putin and Russian President Dmitri Medvedev for the lack of democracy in Russia, particularly their claim that they would decide who would stand for president in 2012.

On 30 January 2010 in Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

, a 10,000 person anti-tax protest took place prompted by the regional authorities' decision to increase the transportation tax. Supporters of the Communist Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, Patriots of Russia, Other Russia, a number of veterans' organizations and other regional NGOs are also taking part.

Economic policy



Under the Putin administration the economy made real gains of an average 7% per year (2000: 10%, 2001: 5.1%, 2002: 4.7%, 2003: 7.3%, 2004: 7.2%, 2005: 6.4%, 2006: 8.2%, 2007: 8.5%) http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/weo/2011/02/weodata/weorept.aspx?)sy=1993&ey=2010&scsm=1&ssd=1&sort=country&ds=.&br=1&pr1.x=49&pr1.y=11&c=922&s=NGDP_RPCH&grp=0&a=, making it the 7th largest economy in the world in purchasing power. Russia's nominal Gross Domestic Product
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

 (GDP) increased 6 fold, climbing from 22nd to 10th largest in the world. In 2007, Russia's GDP exceeded that of Russian SFSR in 1990, meaning it has overcome the devastating consequences of the 1998 financial crisis and preceding recession in the 1990s.

During Putin's eight years in office, industry grew by 76%, investments increased by 125%, and agricultural production and construction increased as well. Real incomes more than doubled and the average monthly salary increased sevenfold from $80 to $640. From 2000 to 2006 the volume of consumer credit increased 45 times and the middle class grew from 8 million to 55 million. The number of people living below the poverty line decreased from 30% in 2000 to 14% in 2008. A number of large-scale reforms in retirement (2002), banking (2001–2004), tax (2000–2003), the monetization of benefits (2005), and others have taken place.

In 2001, Putin, who has advocated liberal economic policies, introduced flat tax
Flat tax
A flat tax is a tax system with a constant marginal tax rate. Typically the term flat tax is applied in the context of an individual or corporate income that will be taxed at one marginal rate...

 rate of 13%; the corporate rate of tax was also reduced from 35 percent to 24 percent; Small businesses also get better treatment. The old system with high tax rates has been replaced by a new system where companies can choose either a 6 percent tax on gross revenue or a 15 percent tax on profits. Overall tax burden is lower in Russia than in most European countries.

A central concept in Putin's economic thinking was the creation of so-called National champions
National champions
National champion is a political concept in which large corporations in strategic sectors are expected not only to seek profit but also to "advance the interests of the nation.”This policy has been popular and practiced by many countries....

, vertically integrated companies in strategic sectors that are expected not only to seek profit, but also to "advance the interests of the nation". Examples of such companies include Gazprom
Gazprom
Open Joint Stock Company Gazprom is the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company. Its headquarters are in Cheryomushki District, South-Western Administrative Okrug, Moscow...

, Rosneft
Rosneft
Rosneft is an integrated oil company majority owned by the Government of Russia. Rosneft is headquartered in Moscow’s Balchug district near the Kremlin, across the Moskva river...

 and United Aircraft Corporation
United Aircraft Corporation
United Aircraft Corporation may refer to one of the following:* United Aircraft Corporation, formerly United Aircraft and Transport Corporation; now known as United Technologies Corporation....

.

Before the Putin era, in 1998, over 60% of industrial turnover in Russia was based on barter and various monetary surrogates. The use of such alternatives to money has now fallen out of favour, which has boosted economic productivity significantly. Besides raising wages and consumption, Putin's government has received broad praise also for eliminating this problem.

The flow of petrodollar
Petrodollar
A petrodollar is a United States dollar earned by a country through the sale of petroleum. The term was coined by Ibrahim Oweiss, a professor of economics at Georgetown University, in 1973...

s was the foundation of Putin's government and masked economic woes. The share of oil and gas in Russia's gross domestic product has more than doubled since 1999 and as of Q2 2008 stood at above 30%. Oil and gas account for 50% of Russian budget revenues and 65% of its exports.

Some oil revenue went to stabilization fund
Stabilization Fund of the Russian Federation
The Stabilization fund of the Russian Federation wasestablished by resolution of the Government of Russia on January 1, 2004, as a part of the federal budget to balance the...

 established in 2004. The fund accumulated oil revenue, which allowed Russia to repay all of the Soviet Union's debts by 2005. In early 2008, it was split into the Reserve Fund (designed to protect Russia from possible global financial shocks) and the National Welfare Fund, whose revenues will be used for a pension reform.

Inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 remained a problem however, as the government failed to contain the growth of prices. Between 1999–2007 inflation was kept at the forecast ceiling only twice, and in 2007 the inflation exceeded that of 2006, continuing an upward trend at the beginning of 2008. The Russian economy is still commodity-driven despite its growth. Payments from the fuel and energy sector in the form of customs duties and taxes accounted for nearly half of the federal budget's revenues. The large majority of Russia's exports are made up by raw materials and fertilizers, although exports as a whole accounted for only 8.7% of the GDP in 2007, compared to 20% in 2000. There is also a growing gap between rich and poor in Russia. Between 2000–2007 the incomes of the rich grew from approximately 14 times to 17 times larger than the incomes of the poor. The income differentiation ratio shows that the 10% of Russia's rich live increasingly better than the 10% of the poor, amongst whom are mostly pensioners and unskilled workers in depressive regions (see Gini coefficient
Gini coefficient
The Gini coefficient is a measure of statistical dispersion developed by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini and published in his 1912 paper "Variability and Mutability" ....

).

Environmental policy


In 2004, President Putin signed the Kyoto Protocol
Kyoto Protocol
The Kyoto Protocol is a protocol to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change , aimed at fighting global warming...

 treaty designed to reduce greenhouse gases. However Russia did not face mandatory cuts, because the Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to a percentage increase or decrease from 1990 levels and Russia's greenhouse-gas emissions fell well below the 1990 baseline due to a drop in economic output after the breakup of the Soviet Union.

Recently during the past election Putin and his assumed successor have been talking about the need for Russia to crack down on polluting companies and clean up Russia’s environment. He has been quoted as saying “Working to protect nature must become the systematic, daily obligation of state authorities at all levels.” President Medvedev has also been quoted as saying "There is not much they fear because the penalty for environmental damage is frequently 10 times, even 100 times less than the fees to meet environmental requirements."

Foreign policy




In international affairs
International relations
International relations is the study of relationships between countries, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations , international nongovernmental organizations , non-governmental organizations and multinational corporations...

, Putin has been publicly and increasingly critical of the foreign policies
Foreign policy
A country's foreign policy, also called the foreign relations policy, consists of self-interest strategies chosen by the state to safeguard its national interests and to achieve its goals within international relations milieu. The approaches are strategically employed to interact with other countries...

 of the US and other Western countries. Some commentators have linked this increase in hostility towards the West with the global rise in oil prices. In February 2007, at the annual Munich Conference on Security Policy
Munich Conference on Security Policy
The Munich Conference on Security Policy is an annual conference on international security policy that is held in the Hotel Bayerischer Hof in Munich, Germany.The 47th Munich Security Conference will be held from February 4th through February 6th 2011....

, he criticized what he calls the United States' monopolistic dominance in global relations, and pointed out that the United States displayed an "almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations". He said the result of it is that "no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

 is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race."

Putin called for a "fair and democratic world order that would ensure security and prosperity not only for a select few, but for all". He proposed certain initiatives such as establishing international centres for the enrichment of uranium and prevention of deploying weapons in outer space
Militarisation of space
The militarisation of space is the placement and development of weaponry and military technology in outer space.-History:Acquisition of high grounds for military advantage has been a perennial feature of military campaigns. For thousands of years, military tacticians have exploited the concept of...

. In his January 2007 interview Putin said Russia is in favor of a democratic multipolar
Polarity in international relations
Polarity in international relations is any of the various ways in which power is distributed within the international system. It describes the nature of the international system at any given period of time. One generally distinguishes four types of systems: Unipolarity, Bipolarity, Tripolarity, and...

 world and of strengthening the systems of international law
International law
Public international law concerns the structure and conduct of sovereign states; analogous entities, such as the Holy See; and intergovernmental organizations. To a lesser degree, international law also may affect multinational corporations and individuals, an impact increasingly evolving beyond...

.

While Putin is often characterised as an autocrat by the Western media and many opposition politicians (most notably, Boris Nemtsov
Boris Nemtsov
Boris Efimovich Nemtsov is a Russian politician who was Deputy Prime Minister of Russia from 1997 to 1998. He was a co-founder of the Russian political party Union of Right Forces and is an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin.-Early life:...

, Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Kasyanov
Mikhail Mikhailovich Kasyanov - was the Prime Minister of Russia from May 2000 to February 2004.He is the leader of the People's Democratic Union and an ex-member of the opposition coalition "The Other Russia".-Political career:...

 and Ilya Yashin
Ilya Yashin
Ilya Yashin is one of the key leaders of the Russian political movement Solidarnost. He is also the leader of the Moscow branch of the People's Freedom Party, in which the Solidarnost participates....

), his relationship with former American President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

, former German
Germans
The Germans are a Germanic ethnic group native to Central Europe. The English term Germans has referred to the German-speaking population of the Holy Roman Empire since the Late Middle Ages....

 Chancellor Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Schröder
Gerhard Fritz Kurt Schröder is a German politician, and was Chancellor of Germany from 1998 to 2005. A member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , he led a coalition government of the SPD and the Greens. Before becoming a full-time politician, he was a lawyer, and before becoming Chancellor...

, former French President Jacques Chirac
Jacques Chirac
Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

, and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi
Silvio Berlusconi , also known as Il Cavaliere – from knighthood to the Order of Merit for Labour which he received in 1977 – is an Italian politician and businessman who served three terms as Prime Minister of Italy, from 1994 to 1995, 2001 to 2006, and 2008 to 2011. Berlusconi is also the...

 are reported to be personally friendly. According to leaked documents in 2010 reported in the New York Times, the connection between Putin and Berlusconi was "extraordinarily close" and marked by "lavish gifts", "lucrative energy contracts", and a "shadowy Russian-speaking Italian go-between." Putin's relationship with Germany's new Chancellor, Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel
Angela Dorothea Merkel is the current Chancellor of Germany . Merkel, elected to the Bundestag from Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, has been the chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union since 2000, and chairwoman of the CDU-CSU parliamentary coalition from 2002 to 2005.From 2005 to 2009 she led a...

, was reported to be "cooler" and "more business-like" than his partnership with Gerhard Schröder. This observation is often attributed to the fact that Merkel was raised in the former DDR, the country of station of Putin when he was a KGB agent.

In the wake of the September 11 attacks
September 11, 2001 attacks
The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks The September 11 attacks (also referred to as September 11, September 11th or 9/119/11 is pronounced "nine eleven". The slash is not part of the pronunciation...

 on the United States, he agreed to the establishment of coalition military bases in Central Asia
Central Asia
Central Asia is a core region of the Asian continent from the Caspian Sea in the west, China in the east, Afghanistan in the south, and Russia in the north...

 before and during the US-led invasion of Afghanistan. Russian nationalists objected to the establishment of any US military presence on the territory of the former Soviet Union, and had expected Putin to keep the US out of the Central Asian republics, or at the very least extract a commitment from Washington to withdraw from these bases as soon as the immediate military necessity had passed.

During the Iraq crisis of 2003, Putin opposed Washington's move to invade Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

 without the benefit of a United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council
The United Nations Security Council is one of the principal organs of the United Nations and is charged with the maintenance of international peace and security. Its powers, outlined in the United Nations Charter, include the establishment of peacekeeping operations, the establishment of...

 resolution explicitly authorizing the use of military force. After the official end of the war was announced, American President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 asked the United Nations to lift sanctions on Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Putin supported lifting of the sanctions in due course, arguing that the UN
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 commission first be given a chance to complete its work on the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

In 2005, Putin and former German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder negotiated the construction of a major gas pipeline over the Baltic exclusively between Russia and Germany. Schröder also attended Putin's 53rd birthday in Saint Petersburg the same year.

The CIS
Commonwealth of Independent States
The Commonwealth of Independent States is a regional organization whose participating countries are former Soviet Republics, formed during the breakup of the Soviet Union....

, seen in Moscow as its traditional sphere of influence
Sphere of influence
In the field of international relations, a sphere of influence is a spatial region or conceptual division over which a state or organization has significant cultural, economic, military or political influence....

, became one of the foreign policy priorities under Putin, as the EU and NATO have grown to encompass much of Central Europe
Central Europe
Central Europe or alternatively Middle Europe is a region of the European continent lying between the variously defined areas of Eastern and Western Europe...

 and, more recently, the Baltic states
Baltic states
The term Baltic states refers to the Baltic territories which gained independence from the Russian Empire in the wake of World War I: primarily the contiguous trio of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania ; Finland also fell within the scope of the term after initially gaining independence in the 1920s.The...

.

During the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election
Ukrainian presidential election, 2004
The Ukrainian presidential election, 2004 was held on October 31, November 21 and December 26, 2004. The election was the fourth presidential election to take place in Ukraine following independence from the Soviet Union...

, Putin twice visited Ukraine before the election to show his support for Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych
Viktor Yanukovych
Viktor Fedorovych Yanukovych is a Ukrainian politician who has been the President of Ukraine since February 2010.Yanukovych served as the Governor of Donetsk Oblast from 1997 to 2002...

, who was widely seen as a pro-Kremlin candidate, and he congratulated him on his anticipated victory before the official election returns had been announced. Putin's personal support for Yanukovych was criticised as unwarranted interference in the affairs of a sovereign state. Crises also developed in Russia's relations with Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

 and Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

, both former Soviet republics who accused Moscow of supporting separatist entities in their territories.

Putin took an active personal part in promoting the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate
Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate
The Act of Canonical Communion of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia with the Russian orthodox Church Moscow Patriarchate reunited the two branches of the Russian Orthodox Church: the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia and the Moscow Patriarchate...

 signed 17 May 2007 that restored relations between the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia
The Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia , also called the Russian Orthodox Church Abroad, ROCA, or ROCOR) is a semi-autonomous part of the Russian Orthodox Church....

 after the 80-year schism.

In his annual address to the Federal Assembly
Federal Assembly of Russia
The Federal Assembly of Russia is the legislature of the Russian Federation, according to the Constitution of Russian Federation, 1993...

 on 26 April 2007, Putin announced plans to declare a moratorium on the observance of the CFE Treaty
Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe
The original Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe was negotiated and concluded during the last years of the Cold War and established comprehensive limits on key categories of conventional military equipment in Europe and mandated the destruction of excess weaponry...

 by Russia until all NATO members ratified it and started observing its provisions, as Russia had been doing on a unilateral basis. Putin argues that as new NATO members have not even signed the treaty so far, an imbalance in the presence of NATO and Russian armed forces in Europe creates a real threat and an unpredictable situation for Russia. NATO members said they would refuse to ratify the treaty until Russia complied with its 1999 commitments made in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 whereby Russia should remove troops and military equipment from Moldova
Moldova
Moldova , officially the Republic of Moldova is a landlocked state in Eastern Europe, located between Romania to the West and Ukraine to the North, East and South. It declared itself an independent state with the same boundaries as the preceding Moldavian Soviet Socialist Republic in 1991, as part...

 and Georgia
Georgia (country)
Georgia is a sovereign state in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded to the west by the Black Sea, to the north by Russia, to the southwest by Turkey, to the south by Armenia, and to the southeast by Azerbaijan. The capital of...

. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov
Sergey Lavrov
Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov is the Foreign Minister of Russia. Prior to that, Lavrov was a Soviet diplomat and Russia's ambassador to the United Nations from 1994 to 2004. Lavrov speaks Russian, English, French and Sinhala....

, was quoted as saying in response that "Russia has long since fulfilled all its Istanbul obligations relevant to CFE". Russia suspended its participation in the CFE as of midnight Moscow time
Moscow Time
Moscow Time is the time zone for the city of Moscow, Russia and most of western Russia, including Saint Petersburg. It is the second westernmost of the nine time zones of Russia. Moscow Time has been UTC+4 year-round since 27 March 2011....

 on 11 December 2007. On 12 December 2007, the United States officially said it "deeply regretted the Russian Federation's decision to 'suspend' implementation of its obligations under the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE)." State Department spokesman Sean McCormack, in a written statement, claimed that "Russia's conventional forces are the largest on the European continent, and its unilateral action damages this successful arms control regime." NATO's primary concern arising from Russia's suspension was that Moscow could accelerate its military presence in the North Caucasus
North Caucasus
The North Caucasus is the northern part of the Caucasus region between the Black and Caspian Seas and within European Russia. The term is also used as a synonym for the North Caucasus economic region of Russia....

.

The months following Putin's Munich
Munich
Munich The city's motto is "" . Before 2006, it was "Weltstadt mit Herz" . Its native name, , is derived from the Old High German Munichen, meaning "by the monks' place". The city's name derives from the monks of the Benedictine order who founded the city; hence the monk depicted on the city's coat...

 speech were marked by tension and a surge in rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic. So, Vladimir Putin said at the anniversary of the Victory Day
Victory Day (Eastern Europe)
Victory Day or 9 May marks the capitulation of Nazi Germany to the Soviet Union in the Second World War...

, "these threats are not becoming fewer but are only transforming and changing their appearance. These new threats, just as under the Third Reich, show the same contempt for human life and the same aspiration to establish an exclusive dictate over the world." On the eve of the 33rd Summit of the G8 in Heiligendamm
Heiligendamm
Heiligendamm is a German seaside resort, founded in 1793. The small cluster of structures which still survive are reminders of the glory days of days gone by when this part of the Baltic Sea was one of the playgrounds of Europe's aristocracy. It is the oldest seaside spa in Germany...

, neoconservative author Anne Applebaum
Anne Applebaum
Anne Elizabeth Applebaum is a journalist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who has written extensively about communism and the development of civil society in Central and Eastern Europe. She has been an editor at The Economist, and a member of the editorial board of The Washington Post...

 opined that "Whether by waging cyberwarfare on Estonia, threatening the gas supplies of Lithuania, or boycotting Georgian wine
2006 Russian ban of Moldovan and Georgian wines
The 2006 Russian import ban of Moldovan and Georgian wines began in late March 2006 and created a diplomatic conflict between the Republic of Moldova and Georgia on the one hand and Russia on the other...

 and Polish meat, he [Putin] has, over the past few years, made it clear that he intends to reassert Russian influence in the former communist states of Europe, whether those states want Russian influence or not. At the same time, he has also made it clear that he no longer sees Western nations as mere benign trading partners, but rather as Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

-style threats."

Max Hastings
Max Hastings
Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, FRSL is a British journalist, editor, historian and author. He is the son of Macdonald Hastings, the noted British journalist and war correspondent and Anne Scott-James, sometime editor of Harper's Bazaar.-Life and career:Hastings was educated at Charterhouse...

 opined that a scenario of military confrontation reminiscent of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 was unlikely, he stated his belief that warm ties between Russia and the West was untenable notion. Both Russian and American officials always denied the idea of a new Cold War. The US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates
Robert Gates
Dr. Robert Michael Gates is a retired civil servant and university president who served as the 22nd United States Secretary of Defense from 2006 to 2011. Prior to this, Gates served for 26 years in the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Council, and under President George H. W....

 said on the Munich Conference: "We all face many common problems and challenges that must be addressed in partnership with other countries, including Russia. ... One Cold War was quite enough." Vladimir Putin said prior to 33rd G8 Summit, on 4 June: "we do not want confrontation; we want to engage in dialogue. However, we want a dialogue that acknowledges the equality of both parties’ interests."

Putin publicly opposed plans for the U.S. missile shield
National Missile Defense
National missile defense is a generic term for a type of missile defense intended to shield an entire country against incoming missiles, such as intercontinental ballistic missile or other ballistic missiles. Interception might be by anti-ballistic missiles or directed-energy weapons such as lasers...

 in Europe, and presented President George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 with a counterproposal on 7 June 2007 of modernising and sharing the use of the Soviet-era Gabala
Qabala
Qabala is a rayon of Azerbaijan. Its administrative center is the historic town of Qəbələ, which in ancient times was known as the capital of Caucasian Albania....

 radar station in Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

 rather than building a new system in the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

. Putin proposed it would not be necessary to place interceptor missiles in Poland then, but interceptors could be placed in NATO member Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 or Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. Putin suggested also equal involvement of interested European countries in the project.


In a 4 June 2007, interview to journalists of G8
G8
The Group of Eight is a forum, created by France in 1975, for the governments of seven major economies: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States. In 1997, the group added Russia, thus becoming the G8...

 countries, when answering the question of whether Russian nuclear forces may be focused on European targets in case "the United States continues building a strategic shield in Poland
Poland
Poland , officially the Republic of Poland , is a country in Central Europe bordered by Germany to the west; the Czech Republic and Slovakia to the south; Ukraine, Belarus and Lithuania to the east; and the Baltic Sea and Kaliningrad Oblast, a Russian exclave, to the north...

 and the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

", Putin admitted that "if part of the United States’ nuclear capability is situated in Europe and that our military experts consider that they represent a potential threat then we will have to take appropriate retaliatory steps. What steps? Of course we must have new targets in Europe."

The end of 2006 brought strained relations between Russia and the United Kingdom
Russia–United Kingdom relations
Russia–United Kingdom relations is the bilateral relationship between the countries of Russia and the United Kingdom and their predecessor states. Spanning nearly five centuries, it has often switched from a state of alliance to rivalry...

 in the wake of the death by poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko was an officer who served in the Soviet KGB and its Russian successor, the Federal Security Service ....

 in London. On 20 July 2007 UK Prime Minister
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the Head of Her Majesty's Government in the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister and Cabinet are collectively accountable for their policies and actions to the Sovereign, to Parliament, to their political party and...

 Gordon Brown
Gordon Brown
James Gordon Brown is a British Labour Party politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Labour Party from 2007 until 2010. He previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer in the Labour Government from 1997 to 2007...

 expelled four Russian envoys
Diplomat
A diplomat is a person appointed by a state to conduct diplomacy with another state or international organization. The main functions of diplomats revolve around the representation and protection of the interests and nationals of the sending state, as well as the promotion of information and...

 over Russia's refusal to extradite Andrei Lugovoi
Andrei Lugovoi
Andrey Konstantinovich Lugovoy is a Russian politician and businessman and deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation for the LDPR. He is a former KGB bodyguard and the ex-head of the security firm "Ninth Wave."...

 to face charges on the alleged murder of Litvinenko. The Russian constitution prohibits the extradition of Russian nationals to third countries. British Foreign Secretary
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
The Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, commonly referred to as the Foreign Secretary, is a senior member of Her Majesty's Government heading the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and regarded as one of the Great Offices of State...

 David Miliband
David Miliband
David Wright Miliband is a British Labour Party politician who has been the Member of Parliament for South Shields since 2001, and was the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs from 2007 to 2010. He is the elder son of the late Marxist theorist Ralph Miliband...

 said that "this situation is not unique, and other countries have amended their constitutions, for example to give effect to the European Arrest Warrant".

Miliband's statement was widely publicized by Russian media as a British proposal to change the Russian constitution. According to VCIOM
VCIOM
All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion, VTsIOM, [established in 1987; till 1992 – All-Union Center for the Study of Public Opinion] is the oldest polling institution in the post-Soviet space and is one of the leading sociological and market research companies in Russia.-General...

, 62% of Russians are against changing the Constitution in this respect. The British Ambassador in Moscow Tony Brenton
Tony Brenton
Sir Anthony Russell Brenton KCMG is a former British diplomat.Mr Brenton entered the British Foreign Office 1975, where he began his career learning Arabic and then spent three years in the British Embassy in Cairo working on the Middle East Dispute...

 said that the UK is not asking Russia to break its Constitution, but rather interpret it in such a way that would make Lugovoi's extradition possible. At a meeting with Russian youth organisations, Putin stated that the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...

 was acting like a colonial power with a mindset stuck in the 19th or 20th centuries, due to their belief that Russia could change its constitution. He also stated, "They say we should change our Constitution – advice that I view as insulting for our country and our people. They need to change their thinking and not tell us to change our Constitution."

When Litvinenko
Alexander Litvinenko
Alexander Valterovich Litvinenko was an officer who served in the Soviet KGB and its Russian successor, the Federal Security Service ....

 was dying from radiation poisoning, he allegedly accused Putin of directing the assassination in a statement which was released shortly after his death by his friend Alex Goldfarb
Alexander Goldfarb (microbiologist)
Alexander Davidovich Goldfarb is a Russian-American microbiologist, activist, and author. He emigrated from the USSR in 1975 and lived in Israel and Germany before settling permanently in New York in 1982. Goldfarb is a naturalized American citizen...

. Goldfarb, who is also the chairman of Boris Berezovsky's International Foundation for Civil Liberties
International Foundation for Civil Liberties
The International Foundation for Civil Liberties is a non-profit organization established by the Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky in November 2000. The Guardian 21 December 2000 Critics see it as an anti-Russian propaganda organization....

, claimed Litvinenko had dictated it to him three days earlier. Andrei Nekrasov
Andrei Nekrasov
Andrei Lvovich Nekrasov is a Russian film and TV director from Saint Petersburg.Andrei Nekrasov studied acting and directing at the State Institute for Theater and Film in his native Saint Petersburg. He studied comparative literature and philosophy at the University of Paris, taking a master's...

 said his friend Litvinenko and Litvinenko's lawyer composed the statement in Russian on 21 November and translated it to English. Critics have doubted that Litvinenko is the true author of the released statement. When asked about the Litvinenko accusations, Putin said that a statement released after death of its author "naturally deserves no comment", and stated his belief it was being used for political purposes. Contradicting his previous claim, Goldfarb later stated that Litvinenko instructed him to write a note "in good English" in which Putin was to be accused of his poisoning. Goldfarb also stated that he read the note to Litvinenko in English and Russian, to which he claims Litvinenko agreed "with every word of it" and signed it.

The expulsions were seen as "the biggest rift since the countries expelled each other's diplomats in 1996 after a spying dispute". In response to the situation, Putin stated "I think we will overcome this mini-crisis. Russian-British relations will develop normally. On both the Russian side and the British side, we are interested in the development of those relations." Despite this, British Ambassador Tony Brenton
Tony Brenton
Sir Anthony Russell Brenton KCMG is a former British diplomat.Mr Brenton entered the British Foreign Office 1975, where he began his career learning Arabic and then spent three years in the British Embassy in Cairo working on the Middle East Dispute...

 was told by the Russian Foreign Ministry that UK diplomats would be given 10 days before they were expelled in response. The Russian government also announced that it would suspend issuing visas to UK officials and froze cooperation on counterterrorism in response to Britain suspending contacts with their Federal Security Service.

Alexander Shokhin, president of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs warned that British investors in Russia will "face greater scrutiny from tax and regulatory authorities. [And] They could also lose out in government tenders". Some see the crisis as originating with Britain's decision to grant Putin's former patron, Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky, political asylum in 2003. Earlier in 2007, Berezovsky had called for the overthrow of Putin.
On 10 December 2007, Russia ordered the British Council
British Council
The British Council is a United Kingdom-based organisation specialising in international educational and cultural opportunities. It is registered as a charity both in England and Wales, and in Scotland...

 to halt work at its regional offices in what was seen as the latest round of a dispute over the murder of Alexander Litvinenko; Britain said Russia's move was illegal.

Following the Peace Mission 2007 military exercises jointly conducted by the SCO
Shanghai Cooperation Organization
The Shanghai Cooperation Organisation or SCO , is an intergovernmental mutual-security organisation which was founded in 2001 in Shanghai by the leaders of China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan...

, Putin announced on 17 August 2007 the resumption on a permanent basis of long-distance patrol flights of Russia's strategic bombers that were suspended in 1992. US State Department spokesman Sean McCormack
Sean McCormack
Sean McCormack is a former United States Assistant Secretary of State. He was sworn in as Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Department Spokesman on June 2, 2005, and served until January 20, 2009.-Early career:...

 was quoted as saying in response that "if Russia feels as though they want to take some of these old aircraft out of mothballs and get them flying again, that's their decision". The announcement made during the SCO summit in the light of joint Russian-Chinese military exercises, first-ever in history to be held on Russian territory, makes some believe that Putin is inclined to set up an anti-NATO bloc or the Asian version of OPEC
OPEC
OPEC is an intergovernmental organization of twelve developing countries made up of Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Venezuela. OPEC has maintained its headquarters in Vienna since 1965, and hosts regular meetings...

. When presented with the suggestion that "Western observers are already likening the SCO to a military organisation that would stand in opposition to NATO", Putin answered that "this kind of comparison is inappropriate in both form and substance". Russian Chief of the General Staff Yury Baluyevsky
Yury Baluyevsky
General of the Army Yury Nikolayevich Baluyevsky is the former First Deputy Minister of Defense and Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, positions he held from July 2004 to 2008....

 was quoted as saying that "there should be no talk of creating a military or political alliance or union of any kind, because this would contradict the founding principles of SCO".

The resumption of long-distance flights of Russia's strategic bombers was followed by the announcement by Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov
Anatoliy Serdyukov
Anatoliy Eduardovich Serdyukov is a Russian politician and businessman.He has been the Defense Minister of Russia since February 15, 2007. He is known for launching major reforms in the Russian military....

 during his meeting with Putin on 5 December 2007, that 11 ships, including the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, would take part in the first major navy sortie into the Mediterranean since Soviet times. The sortie was to be backed up by 47 aircraft, including strategic bombers. According to Serdyukov, this is an effort to resume regular Russian naval patrols on the world's oceans, the view that is also supported by Russian media.

In September 2007, Putin visited Indonesia
Indonesia
Indonesia , officially the Republic of Indonesia , is a country in Southeast Asia and Oceania. Indonesia is an archipelago comprising approximately 13,000 islands. It has 33 provinces with over 238 million people, and is the world's fourth most populous country. Indonesia is a republic, with an...

 and in doing so became the first Russian leader to visit the country in more than 50 years. In the same month, Putin also attended the APEC meeting held in Sydney
Sydney
Sydney is the most populous city in Australia and the state capital of New South Wales. Sydney is located on Australia's south-east coast of the Tasman Sea. As of June 2010, the greater metropolitan area had an approximate population of 4.6 million people...

, Australia
Australia
Australia , officially the Commonwealth of Australia, is a country in the Southern Hemisphere comprising the mainland of the Australian continent, the island of Tasmania, and numerous smaller islands in the Indian and Pacific Oceans. It is the world's sixth-largest country by total area...

 where he met with Australian Prime Minister John Howard
John Howard
John Winston Howard AC, SSI, was the 25th Prime Minister of Australia, from 11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007. He was the second-longest serving Australian Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies....

 and signed a uranium trade deal. This was the first visit by a Russian president to Australia.

On 16 October 2007 Putin visited Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 to participate in the Second Caspian Summit in Tehran
Tehran
Tehran , sometimes spelled Teheran, is the capital of Iran and Tehran Province. With an estimated population of 8,429,807; it is also Iran's largest urban area and city, one of the largest cities in Western Asia, and is the world's 19th largest city.In the 20th century, Tehran was subject to...

, where he met with Iranian President
President of Iran
The President of Iran is the highest popularly elected official in, and the head of government of the Islamic Republic of Iran; although subordinate to the Supreme Leader of Iran, who functions as the country's head of state...

 Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Other participants were leaders of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan , officially the Republic of Azerbaijan is the largest country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia. Located at the crossroads of Western Asia and Eastern Europe, it is bounded by the Caspian Sea to the east, Russia to the north, Georgia to the northwest, Armenia to the west, and Iran to...

, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

, and Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan , formerly also known as Turkmenia is one of the Turkic states in Central Asia. Until 1991, it was a constituent republic of the Soviet Union, the Turkmen Soviet Socialist Republic . Turkmenistan is one of the six independent Turkic states...

. This is the first visit of a Soviet or Russian leader to Iran since Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

's participation in the Tehran Conference
Tehran Conference
The Tehran Conference was the meeting of Joseph Stalin, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill between November 28 and December 1, 1943, most of which was held at the Soviet Embassy in Tehran, Iran. It was the first World War II conference amongst the Big Three in which Stalin was present...

 in 1943. At a press conference after the summit Putin said that "all our (Caspian) states have the right to develop their peaceful nuclear programmes without any restrictions". During the summit it was also agreed that its participants, under no circumstances, would let any third-party state use their territory as a base for aggression or military action against any other participant.

On 26 October 2007, at a press conference following the 20th Russia–EU Summit in Portugal
Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

, Putin proposed creating a Russian-European Institute for Freedom and Democracy headquartered either in Brussels or in one of the European capitals, and added that "we are ready to supply funds for financing it, just as Europe covers the costs of projects in Russia". This newly proposed institution is expected to monitor human rights violations in Europe and contribute to development of European democracy.

Vladimir Putin strongly opposes the secession of Kosovo
Kosovo
Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

 from Serbia
Serbia
Serbia , officially the Republic of Serbia , is a landlocked country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeast Europe, covering the southern part of the Carpathian basin and the central part of the Balkans...

. He called any support for this act "immoral" and "illegal". He described Kosovo's declaration of independence a "terrible precedent" that will come back to hit the West "in the face". He stated that the Kosovo precedent will de facto destroy the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries.

Another neoconservative Robert Kagan
Robert Kagan
Robert Kagan is an American historian and foreign policy commentator.-Early life and education:Kagan graduated from Yale University in 1980 where he was tapped by Skull and Bones, studied history, and founded the Yale Political Monthly. He later earned an MPP from the John F...

, reflecting on what underlay the fundamental rift between Putin's Russia and the EU wrote in February 2008: "Europe's nightmares are the 1930s; Russia's nightmares are the 1990s. Europe sees the answer to its problems in transcending the nation-state and power. For Russians, the solution is in restoring them. So what happens when a 21st-century entity faces the challenge of a 19th-century power? The contours of the conflict are already emerging—in diplomatic stand-offs over Kosovo, Ukraine, Georgia and Estonia; in conflicts over gas and oil pipelines; in nasty diplomatic exchanges between Russia and Britain; and in a return to Russian military exercises of a kind not seen since the Cold War. Europeans are apprehensive, with good reason."

Talks on a new Partnership and Co-operation Agreement (PCA), signed in 1997, remained stymied till the end of Putin's presidency due to vetoes by Poland and later Lithuania
Lithuania
Lithuania , officially the Republic of Lithuania is a country in Northern Europe, the biggest of the three Baltic states. It is situated along the southeastern shore of the Baltic Sea, whereby to the west lie Sweden and Denmark...

.

According to a document uncovered during the United States diplomatic cables leak
United States diplomatic cables leak
The United States diplomatic cables leak, widely known as Cablegate, began in February 2010 when WikiLeaks—a non-profit organization that publishes submissions from anonymous whistleblowers—began releasing classified cables that had been sent to the U.S. State Department by 274 of its consulates,...

 Putin “implicitly challenged" the territorial integrity of Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 at the April 4, 2008, NATO-Russia Council Summit in Bucharest
Bucharest
Bucharest is the capital municipality, cultural, industrial, and financial centre of Romania. It is the largest city in Romania, located in the southeast of the country, at , and lies on the banks of the Dâmbovița River....

, Romania
Romania
Romania is a country located at the crossroads of Central and Southeastern Europe, on the Lower Danube, within and outside the Carpathian arch, bordering on the Black Sea...

. A January 2009 dispute led state-controlled Russian company Gazprom
Gazprom
Open Joint Stock Company Gazprom is the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company. Its headquarters are in Cheryomushki District, South-Western Administrative Okrug, Moscow...

 to halt its deliveries of natural gas
Natural gas
Natural gas is a naturally occurring gas mixture consisting primarily of methane, typically with 0–20% higher hydrocarbons . It is found associated with other hydrocarbon fuel, in coal beds, as methane clathrates, and is an important fuel source and a major feedstock for fertilizers.Most natural...

 to Ukraine. During the crisis, Putin hinted that Ukraine
Ukraine
Ukraine is a country in Eastern Europe. It has an area of 603,628 km², making it the second largest contiguous country on the European continent, after Russia...

 is run by criminals who cannot solve economic problems.

Key speeches


During his terms in office Putin has made eight annual addresses to the Federal Assembly of Russia
Federal Assembly of Russia
The Federal Assembly of Russia is the legislature of the Russian Federation, according to the Constitution of Russian Federation, 1993...

, speaking on the situation in Russia and on guidelines of the internal and foreign policy of the State (as prescribed in Article 84 of the Constitution). The 2007 election campaign of the United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

 party went under the slogan "Putin's Plan: Russia's Victory". When asked on the "Putin's plan", Vladimir Putin said that the last five Addresses contained some key parts "devoted to the state’s medium-term development", and "if all these key ideas were put together to build a coherent system, it can become the country's development plan in the medium-term."

2nd Premiership (2008–present)




Putin was barred from a third term by the Constitution. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Medvedev
Dmitry Anatolyevich Medvedev is the third President of the Russian Federation.Born to a family of academics, Medvedev graduated from the Law Department of Leningrad State University in 1987. He defended his dissertation in 1990 and worked as a docent at his alma mater, now renamed to Saint...

 was elected his successor. On 8 May 2008—only a day after handing the presidency to Medvedev—Putin was appointed Prime Minister of Russia
Prime Minister of Russia
The Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation The use of the term "Prime Minister" is strictly informal and is not allowed for by the Russian Constitution and other laws....

. By all accounts, however, he still held the real power.

On 24–25 July 2008, Putin accused the Mechel
Mechel
Mechel is one of Russia’s leading mining and metallurgical companies, producing coal, iron ore, nickel steel, rolled steel products, hardware, heat and electric power. Headquartered in Moscow, the company operates facilities in Russia, Romania, Lithuania, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria, and the United...

 company of selling resources to Russia at higher prices than those charged to foreign countries and claimed that it had been avoiding taxes by using foreign subsidiaries to sell its products internationally. The Prime Minister's attack on Mechel resulted in sharp decline of its stock value and contributed to the 2008 Russian financial crisis.

In August 2008 Putin accused the US of provoking the 2008 South Ossetia war
2008 South Ossetia war
The 2008 South Ossetia War or Russo-Georgian War was an armed conflict in August 2008 between Georgia on one side, and Russia and separatist governments of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the other....

, arguing that US citizens were present in the area of the conflict following their leaders' orders to the benefit of one of the two presidential candidates
United States presidential election, 2008
The United States presidential election of 2008 was the 56th quadrennial presidential election. It was held on November 4, 2008. Democrat Barack Obama, then the junior United States Senator from Illinois, defeated Republican John McCain, the senior U.S. Senator from Arizona. Obama received 365...

.

In December 2008, car owners and traders from Vladivostok
Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

 and other regions protested against highly unpopular new duties and regulations on the import of foreign-made used cars (the tariff hike was introduced by Putin in violation of the international commitments undertaken by Medvedev at the G20 Summit
2008 G-20 Washington summit
The 2008 G-20 Washington Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy took place on November 14–15, 2008, in Washington, D.C., United States. It achieved general agreement amongst the G-20 on how to cooperate in key areas so as to strengthen economic growth, deal with the financial...

 in November 2008), one of the slogans being "Putin, resign!" This was seen as the first visible public anger at one of the government's responses to the crisis. The following month, the protests continued, with the slogans having become of a mostly political nature.

In December 2009, during the annual televised phone-in session, the prime minister continued his reflective approach to Russian history and openly criticised Josef Stalin’s cult of personality, his “crimes against his own people”, and all forms of totalitarianism
Totalitarianism
Totalitarianism is a political system where the state recognizes no limits to its authority and strives to regulate every aspect of public and private life wherever feasible...

.

On 5 February 2009, Russia's liberal democratic
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

 political movement, citing the regime's "total helplessness and flagrant incompetence" maintained that "the dismantling of Putinism
Putinism
Putinism is the ideology, priorities, and policies of the system of government practiced by Russian politician Vladimir Putin...

" and restoration of democracy in Russia were prerequisites for any successful anti-crisis measures and demanded that Putin's government resign. The Russian government's anti-crisis measures have been praised by the World Bank, which said in its Russia Economic Report from November 2008: "prudent fiscal management and substantial financial reserves have protected Russia from deeper consequences of this external shock. The government’s policy response so far—swift, comprehensive, and coordinated—has helped limit the impact."

On 9 June 2009, after 16 years of slowly progressing accession talks with the World Trade Organization
World Trade Organization
The World Trade Organization is an organization that intends to supervise and liberalize international trade. The organization officially commenced on January 1, 1995 under the Marrakech Agreement, replacing the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade , which commenced in 1948...

, which, according to the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, might be completed by the end of the year, Vladimir Putin announced that Russia withdrew from the negotiations and instead would make a new joint bid with Belarus
Belarus
Belarus , officially the Republic of Belarus, is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe, bordered clockwise by Russia to the northeast, Ukraine to the south, Poland to the west, and Lithuania and Latvia to the northwest. Its capital is Minsk; other major cities include Brest, Grodno , Gomel ,...

 and Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan , officially the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a transcontinental country in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Ranked as the ninth largest country in the world, it is also the world's largest landlocked country; its territory of is greater than Western Europe...

. Senior Kremlin officials had earlier signalled, that Russia was losing patience with Western promises to let it join.

At the United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

 Congress in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

 on 24 September 2011, Medvedev proposed that Putin stand for the Presidency in 2012; an offer which Putin accepted. Given United Russia's near-total dominance of Russian politics, many observers believe that Putin is all but assured of a third term. The move is expected to see Medvedev stand on the United Russia ticket in the parliamentary elections in December, with a goal of becoming Prime Minister at the end of his presidential term.

Public image and popularity



According to public opinion surveys conducted by Levada Center
Levada Center
Levada Center is a Russian independent, non-governmental polling and sociological research organisation. It is named after its founder, the first Russian professor of sociology Yuri Levada . Levada Center traces back its history to 1987 when VCIOM was founded, originally headed by Academician...

, Putin's approval rating was 81% in June 2007, and the highest of any leader in the world. His popularity rose from 31% in August 1999 to 80% in November 1999 and since then it has never fallen below 65%. Observers see Putin's high approval ratings as a consequence of the significant improvements in living standards and Russia's reassertion of itself on the world scene that occurred during his tenure as President. Most Russians are also deeply disillusioned with the West after all the hardships of 90s, and they no longer trust pro-western politicians associated with Yeltsin that were removed from the political scene under Putin's leadership. According to the JTA
Jewish Telegraphic Agency
The Jewish Telegraphic Agency is an international news agency serving Jewish community newspapers and media around the world. The JTA was founded on February 6, 1917, by Jacob Landau as the Jewish Correspondence Bureau in The Hague with the mandate of collecting and disseminating news among and...

, Putin is popular amongst the Russian Jewish community who see him as a force for stability. Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar
Berel Lazar
Rabbi Shlomo Dovber Pinchas Lazar, better known as Berel Lazar, is an Orthodox, Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic rabbi. He is presently Chief Rabbi of Russia, and chairman of the Federation of Jewish Communities...

 said, Putin “paid great attention to the needs of our community and related to us with a deep respect.”

In early 2005, a youth organization called Nashi
Nashi (Ours)
Nashi is Vladimir Putin's political youth movement in Russia, which declares itself to be a democratic, anti-fascist, anti-'oligarchic-capitalist' movement. Its creation was encouraged by senior figures in the Russian Presidential administration, and by late 2007, it grew in size to some 120,000...

 (meaning 'Ours' or 'Our Own People') was created in Russia, which positions itself as a democratic, anti-fascist organization. Its creation was encouraged by some of the most senior figures in the Administration of the President, and by 2007 it grew to some 120,000 members (between the ages of 17 and 25). One of Nashi's major stated aims was to prevent a repeat of the 2004 Orange Revolution
Orange Revolution
The Orange Revolution was a series of protests and political events that took place in Ukraine from late November 2004 to January 2005, in the immediate aftermath of the run-off vote of the 2004 Ukrainian presidential election which was claimed to be marred by massive corruption, voter...

 during the Russian elections: as its leader Vasily Yakemenko
Vasily Yakemenko
Vasily Grigoryevich Yakemenko is a Russian politician, creator and leader of several pro-government youth groups.In May 2000 he founded the movement Walking Together , which became well known for its struggle against Vladimir Sorokin's books and the band Leningrad...

 said, "the enemies must not perform unconstitutional takeovers". Kremlin adviser, Sergei Markov said about the activists of Nashi: "They want Russia to be a modern, strong and free country... Their ideology is clear — it is modernization of the country and preservation of its sovereignty with that."

A joint poll by World Public Opinion in the US and NGO Levada Center  in Russia around June–July 2006 stated that "neither the Russian nor the American publics are convinced Russia is headed in an anti-democratic direction" and "Russians generally support Putin’s concentration of political power and strongly support the re-nationalization of Russia’s oil and gas industry." Russians generally support the political course of Putin and his team. A 2005 survey showed that three times as many Russians felt the country was "more democratic" under Putin than it was during the Yeltsin or Gorbachev years, and the same proportion thought human rights were better under Putin than Yeltsin.

Putin was Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

magazine's Person of the Year
Person of the Year
Person of the Year is an annual issue of the United States newsmagazine Time that features and profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse, ...has done the most to influence the events of the year."- History :The tradition of selecting a Man of the Year...

 for 2007.
Time said that "TIME's Person of the Year is not and never has been an honor. It is not an endorsement. It is not a popularity contest. At its best, it is a clear-eyed recognition of the world as it is and of the most powerful individuals and forces shaping that world—for better or for worse". The choice provoked sarcasm from one of Russia's opposition leaders, Garry Kasparov
Garry Kasparov
Garry Kimovich Kasparov is a Russian chess grandmaster, a former World Chess Champion, writer, political activist, and one of the greatest chess players of all time....

, who recalled that Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler
Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician and the leader of the National Socialist German Workers Party , commonly referred to as the Nazi Party). He was Chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945, and head of state from 1934 to 1945...

 had been Times Man of the Year in 1938, and an overwhelmingly negative reaction from the magazine's readership.

On 4 December 2007, at Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Gorbachev
Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev is a former Soviet statesman, having served as General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union from 1985 until 1991, and as the last head of state of the USSR, having served from 1988 until its dissolution in 1991...

 credited Putin with having "pulled Russia out of chaos" and said he was "assured a place in history", "despite Gorbachev's acknowledgment that the news media have been suppressed and that election rules run counter to the democratic ideals he has promoted".

In 2007, the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda
Komsomolskaya Pravda
Komsomolskaya Pravda is a daily Russian tabloid newspaper, founded on March 13th, 1925. It is published by "Izdatelsky Dom Komsomolskaya Pravda" .- History :...

published a huge photograph of a bare-chested Putin vacationing in the Siberian mountains under the headline: "Be Like Putin." In 2010, Russian TV broadcast video of Putin co-piloting a firefighting plane to dump water on a raging wildfire. Such photo op
Photo op
A photo op , short for photograph opportunity , is an opportunity to take a memorable and effective photograph of a politician, a celebrity, or a notable event...

s are part of a public relations approach that, according to Wired
Wired (magazine)
Wired is a full-color monthly American magazine and on-line periodical, published since January 1993, that reports on how new and developing technology affects culture, the economy, and politics...

, "deliberately cultivates the macho
Macho
Macho typically refers to machismo. Other uses include:*Macho , a short-lived disco group in the late 1970s*Pique macho, Bolivian dish*Macho Man , a 1978 disco song performed by the Village People...

, take-charge superhero
Superhero
A superhero is a type of stock character, possessing "extraordinary or superhuman powers", dedicated to protecting the public. Since the debut of the prototypical superhero Superman in 1938, stories of superheroes — ranging from brief episodic adventures to continuing years-long sagas —...

 image".

Putin's name and image are widely used in advertisement and product branding. Among the Putin-branded products are Putinka
Putinka
Putinka is a brand of Russian vodka made by the state-owned Moscow Distillery Crystal company. Since Vladimir Putin has been in power, the company has played upon the name and Putin's popularity among Russians, even after his departure from the Presidency and accession as Prime Minister.Vodka...

 vodka, the PuTin brand of canned food, the Gorbusha Putina caviar
Caviar
Caviar, sometimes called black caviar, is a luxury delicacy, consisting of processed, salted, non-fertilized sturgeon roe. The roe can be "fresh" or pasteurized, the latter having much less culinary and economic value....

 and a collection of T-shirts with his image.

In April 2008, Putin was put on the Time 100 most influential people in the world
Time 100
Time 100 is an annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world, as assembled by Time. First published in 1999 as a result of a debate among several academics, the list has become an annual event.-History and format:...

 list. In 2010 a much-publicised erotic calendar titled Happy Birthday, Mr. Putin!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Putin!
Happy Birthday, Mr. Putin! is an English title of the erotic calendar, released by the Russian publishing house "Fakultet" for the 58th birthday of Vladimir Putin on October 7, 2010. The calendar features twelve semi-nude female students of journalism faculty at the Moscow State University , each...

was released.

Family and personal life



On 28 July 1983 Putin married Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad
Kaliningrad is a seaport and the administrative center of Kaliningrad Oblast, the Russian exclave between Poland and Lithuania on the Baltic Sea...

-born Lyudmila Shkrebneva
Lyudmila Putina
Lyudmila Aleksandrovna Putina is the wife of former Russian President and current Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.She married Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin on July 28, 1983; they have two daughters, Maria, born 1985 and Yekaterina...

, at that time an undergraduate student of the Spanish branch of the Philology
Philology
Philology is the study of language in written historical sources; it is a combination of literary studies, history and linguistics.Classical philology is the philology of Greek and Classical Latin...

 Department of the Leningrad State University
Saint Petersburg State University
Saint Petersburg State University is a Russian federal state-owned higher education institution based in Saint Petersburg and one of the oldest and largest universities in Russia....

 and a former Aeroflot
Aeroflot
OJSC AeroflotRussian Airlines , commonly known as Aeroflot , is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Russian Federation, based on passengers carried per year...

 flight attendant
Flight attendant
Flight attendants or cabin crew are members of an aircrew employed by airlines primarily to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers aboard commercial flights, on select business jet aircraft, and on some military aircraft.-History:The role of a flight attendant derives from that of similar...

. They have two daughters, Mariya Putina (born 28 April 1985 in St. Petersburg) and Yekaterina Putina (born 31 August 1986 in Dresden
Dresden
Dresden is the capital city of the Free State of Saxony in Germany. It is situated in a valley on the River Elbe, near the Czech border. The Dresden conurbation is part of the Saxon Triangle metropolitan area....

). The daughters grew up in East Germany and attended the German School in Moscow until his appointment as Prime Minister. After that they studied international economics
International economics
International economics is concerned with the effects upon economic activity of international differences in productive resources and consumer preferences and the institutions that affect them...

 at the Finance Academy
Finance Academy under the Government of RF
The Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation earlier known as "Moscow Institute of Economics and Finance" , "Moscow Finance Institute" , "State Finance Academy" or "Finance Academy under the Government of...

 in Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, although it was not officially reported due to security reasons. Putin also owns a black Labrador Retriever
Labrador Retriever
The Labrador Retriever is one of several kinds of retriever, a type of gun dog. A breed characteristic is webbed paws for swimming, useful for the breed's original purpose of retrieving fishing nets. The Labrador is the most popular breed of dog by registered ownership in Canada, the United...

 named Koni
Koni (dog)
Koni , full name Connie Paulgrave , also known as Connie, is a female black Labrador Retriever owned by former President and current Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin...

, who has been known to accompany him into staff meetings and greeting world leaders. In 2010 his Bulgaria
Bulgaria
Bulgaria , officially the Republic of Bulgaria , is a parliamentary democracy within a unitary constitutional republic in Southeast Europe. The country borders Romania to the north, Serbia and Macedonia to the west, Greece and Turkey to the south, as well as the Black Sea to the east...

n colleague, Boyko Borisov
Boyko Borisov
Boyko Metodiev Borisov is a Bulgarian politician who has been Prime Minister of Bulgaria since July 2009. Previously he was Mayor of Sofia from 8 November 2005 until his election as Prime Minister....

, gave him a Karakachan Dog
Karakachan Dog
The Karakachan is a breed of dog that originated in Bulgaria as a mountain livestock guardian dog. Other names are Karakachan Shepherd and Thracian Mollos. The dog is named after the Karakachans, Balkan nomadic shepherds...

 who then was named Buffy
Buffy (dog)
Buffy is a dog, owned as a pet by the Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. It was given to him by his Bulgarian colleague Boyko Borisov during a visit in Sofia on 13 November 2010. Buffy is a Karakachan Dog and it was born in Boyko Borisov's personal nursery in August 2010 under the name Yorgo...

. Vladimir's cousin Igor Putin
Igor Putin
Igor Alexandrovich Putin is a Russian businessman and politician, former Vice President of Master Bank. He is a cousin of former Russian president and current Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin...

 is a director of Master Bank
Master Bank
- About :“Master-Bank” - Moscow large private bank. Established at the end of 1992. Holds 58th place in the rating "Top Russian banks" in terms of assets year. The bank is currently represented by 12 branches and 114 offices in 9 regions of Russia...

.

Putin speaks fluent German. His family used to speak German at home as well. After becoming President he was reported to be taking English lessons and could be seen conversing directly with Bush and native speakers of English in informal situations, but he continues to use interpreters for formal talks. Putin spoke English in public for the first time during the state dinner in Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

 in 2003 saying but a few phrases while delivering his condolences to the Queen
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom
Elizabeth II is the constitutional monarch of 16 sovereign states known as the Commonwealth realms: the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Jamaica, Barbados, the Bahamas, Grenada, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, Tuvalu, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Belize,...

 on the death of her mother
Elizabeth Bowes-Lyon
Elizabeth Angela Marguerite Bowes-Lyon was the queen consort of King George VI from 1936 until her husband's death in 1952, after which she was known as Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother, to avoid confusion with her daughter, Queen Elizabeth II...

. He made a full fluent English speech while addressing delegates at the 119th International Olympic Committee
International Olympic Committee
The International Olympic Committee is an international corporation based in Lausanne, Switzerland, created by Pierre de Coubertin on 23 June 1894 with Demetrios Vikelas as its first president...

 Session in Guatemala City
Guatemala City
Guatemala City , is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Guatemala and Central America...

 on behalf of the successful bid of Sochi
Sochi
Sochi is a city in Krasnodar Krai, Russia, situated just north of Russia's border with the de facto independent republic of Abkhazia, on the Black Sea coast. Greater Sochi sprawls for along the shores of the Black Sea near the Caucasus Mountains...

 for the 2014 Winter Olympics
2014 Winter Olympics
The 2014 Winter Olympics, officially the XXII Olympic Winter Games, or the 22nd Winter Olympics, is a major international multi-sport event scheduled to be celebrated from 7 to 23 February 2014, in Sochi, Russia with some events held in the resort town of Krasnaya Polyana. Both the Olympic and...

 and the 2014 Winter Paralympics
2014 Winter Paralympics
The 2014 Winter Paralympics, officially known as the XI Paralympic Winter Games, will be held from March 7 to March 16, 2014 in Sochi, Russia...

. Putin enjoys watching football and he supports FC Zenit Saint Petersburg
FC Zenit Saint Petersburg
Football Club Zenit is a Russian football club from the city of Saint-Petersburg. Founded in 1925 , the club plays in the Russian Premier League...

.

Religion


Putin's father was "a model communist, genuinely believing in its ideals while trying to put them into practice in his own life". With this dedication he became secretary of the Party cell in his workshop and then after taking night classes joined the factory’s Party bureau. Though his father was a "militant atheist", Putin's mother "was a devoted Orthodox believer". Though she kept no icon
Icon
An icon is a religious work of art, most commonly a painting, from Eastern Christianity and in certain Eastern Catholic churches...

s at home, she attended church regularly, despite the government's persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 at that time. She ensured that Putin was secretly christened as a baby and she regularly took him to services. His father knew of this but turned a blind eye. According to Putin's own statements, his religious awakening followed the serious car crash of his wife in 1993, and was deepened by a life-threatening fire that burned down their dacha in August 1996. Right before an official visit to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 his mother gave him his baptismal cross telling him to get it blessed “I did as she said and then put the cross around my neck. I have never taken it off since.” Putin repeated the story to George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 in June 2001, which might have inspired Bush to make his remark that he had "got a sense of Putin's soul". When asked whether he believes in God during his interview with Time
Time (magazine)
Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

, he responded saying: "... There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody's consumption because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease."

Martial arts



One of Putin's favorite sports is the martial art of judo
Judo
is a modern martial art and combat sport created in Japan in 1882 by Jigoro Kano. Its most prominent feature is its competitive element, where the object is to either throw or takedown one's opponent to the ground, immobilize or otherwise subdue one's opponent with a grappling maneuver, or force an...

. Putin began training in sambo
Sambo (martial art)
Sambo is a Russian martial art and combat sport. The word "SAMBO" is an acronym for SAMooborona Bez Oruzhiya, which literally translates as "self-defense without weapons". Sambo is relatively modern since its development began in the early 1920s by the Soviet Red Army to improve their hand to hand...

 (a martial art that originated in the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

) at the age of 14, before switching to judo, which he continues to practice today. Putin won competitions in his hometown of Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg)
Saint Petersburg
Saint Petersburg is a city and a federal subject of Russia located on the Neva River at the head of the Gulf of Finland on the Baltic Sea...

, including the senior championship of Leningrad. He is the President of the Yawara Dojo, the same Saint Petersburg dojo
Dojo
A is a Japanese term which literally means "place of the way". Initially, dōjōs were adjunct to temples. The term can refer to a formal training place for any of the Japanese do arts but typically it is considered the formal gathering place for students of any Japanese martial arts style to...

 he practiced at when young. Putin co-authored a book on his favorite sport, published in Russian as Judo with Vladimir Putin and in English under the title Judo: History, Theory, Practice (2004).

Though he is not the first world leader to practice judo, Putin is the first leader to move forward into the advanced levels. Currently, Putin holds a 6th dan
Dan rank
The ranking system is a Japanese mark of level, which is used in modern fine arts and martial arts. Originally invented in a Go school in the Edo period, this system was applied to martial arts by Kanō Jigorō, the founder of judo and later introduced to other East Asia countries.In the modern...

 (red/white belt
Black belt (martial arts)
In martial arts, the black belt is a way to describe a graduate of a field where a practitioner's level is often marked by the color of the belt. The black belt is commonly the highest belt color used and denotes a degree of competence. It is often associated with a teaching grade though...

) and is best known for his Harai Goshi
Harai Goshi
is one of the original 40 throws of Judo as developed by Kano Jigoro. It belongs to the second group of the traditional throwing list in the Gokyo no waza of the Kodokan Judo....

 (sweeping hip throw). Putin earned Master of Sports (Soviet and Russian sport title) in judo in 1975 and in sambo in 1973. At a state visit to Japan, Putin was invited to the Kodokan Institute, the judo headquarters, where he showed different judo techniques to the students and Japanese officials.

Biking


In July 2010 Putin appeared at a Russian-Ukrainian Orthodox
Russian Orthodox Church
The Russian Orthodox Church or, alternatively, the Moscow Patriarchate The ROC is often said to be the largest of the Eastern Orthodox churches in the world; including all the autocephalous churches under its umbrella, its adherents number over 150 million worldwide—about half of the 300 million...

 Bikers
Outlaw motorcycle club
An outlaw motorcycle club is a type of motorcycle club that is part of a subculture with roots in the post-World War II USA, centered on cruiser motorcycles, particularly Harley-Davidsons and choppers, and a set of ideals celebrating freedom, nonconformity to mainstream culture, and loyalty to the...

 festival in Sevastopol
Sevastopol
Sevastopol is a city on rights of administrative division of Ukraine, located on the Black Sea coast of the Crimea peninsula. It has a population of 342,451 . Sevastopol is the second largest port in Ukraine, after the Port of Odessa....

, Ukraine, riding a Harley-Davidson tricycle. The high council of Russian bikers movements unanimously voted to elevate him into a Hells Angel
Hells Angels
The Hells Angels Motorcycle Club is a worldwide one-percenter motorcycle gang and organized crime syndicate whose members typically ride Harley-Davidson motorcycles. In the United States and Canada, the Hells Angels are incorporated as the Hells Angels Motorcycle Corporation. Their primary motto...

 range with the nickname of Abaddon
Abaddon
Abaddon in the Revelation of St. John, is the king of tormenting locusts and the angel of the bottomless pit. The exact nature of Abaddon is debated, but the Hebrew word is related to the triliteral root אבד , which in verb form means "to perish."...

. The nickname is probably influenced by angel of death and destruction Abadonna in Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhail Bulgakov
Mikhaíl Afanásyevich Bulgákov was a Soviet Russian writer and playwright active in the first half of the 20th century. He is best known for his novel The Master and Margarita, which The Times of London has called one of the masterpieces of the 20th century.-Biography:Mikhail Bulgakov was born on...

's The Master and Margarita
The Master and Margarita
The Master and Margarita is a novel by Mikhail Bulgakov, woven around the premise of a visit by the Devil to the fervently atheistic Soviet Union. Many critics consider the book to be one of the greatest novels of the 20th century, and one of the foremost Soviet satires, directed against a...

 novel

Personal wealth


According to the data submitted during the legislative election of 2007
Russian legislative election, 2007
Legislative elections were held in the Russian Federation on 2 December 2007. At stake were the 450 seats in the State Duma, the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia . Eleven parties were included in the ballot, including Russia's largest party, United Russia, which was supported by...

, Putin's wealth was limited to approximately 3.7 million rubles
Russian ruble
The ruble or rouble is the currency of the Russian Federation and the two partially recognized republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Formerly, the ruble was also the currency of the Russian Empire and the Soviet Union prior to their breakups. Belarus and Transnistria also use currencies with...

 (approximately $150,000) in bank accounts, a private 77.4 square metres (92.6 sq yd) apartment in Saint Petersburg, 260 shares of Bank Saint Petersburg (with a December 2007 market price $5.36 per share) and two 1960s Volga M21 cars that he inherited from his father and does not register
Vehicle registration
Vehicle registration is the compulsory registration of a vehicle with a government authority. Vehicle registration's purpose is to establish clear ownership and to tax motorists or vehicle owners....

 for on-road use. Putin's 2006 income totalled 2 million rubles (approximately $80,000). According to the data Putin did not make it into the 100 wealthiest Duma
Duma
A Duma is any of various representative assemblies in modern Russia and Russian history. The State Duma in the Russian Empire and Russian Federation corresponds to the lower house of the parliament. Simply it is a form of Russian governmental institution, that was formed during the reign of the...

 candidates of his own United Russia
United Russia
United Russia is a centrist political party in Russia and the largest party in the country, currently holding 315 of the 450 seats in the State Duma. The party was founded in December 2001, through a merger of the Unity and Fatherland-All Russia parties...

 party.

There have also been allegations that Putin secretly owns a large fortune.
According to former Chairman
Speaker of the Duma
The Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation , also called Speaker , is the presiding officer of the lower house of the Russian parliament...

 of the Russian State Duma
State Duma
The State Duma , common abbreviation: Госду́ма ) in the Russian Federation is the lower house of the Federal Assembly of Russia , the upper house being the Federation Council of Russia. The Duma headquarters is located in central Moscow, a few steps from Manege Square. Its members are referred to...

 Ivan Rybkin
Ivan Rybkin
Ivan Petrovich Rybkin is a Russian politician; was Chairman of Russia's State Duma in 1994–96 and Secretary of the Security Council in 1996–98.-Early life:...

 in 2004 and Russian political scientist Stanislav Belkovsky
Stanislav Belkovsky
Stanislav Alexandrovich Belkovsky is a Russian political analyst and communication specialist. A political conservative, he is said to be very close to Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky...

, Putin allegedly controlled a 4.5% stake (approx. $13 billion) in Gazprom
Gazprom
Open Joint Stock Company Gazprom is the largest extractor of natural gas in the world and the largest Russian company. Its headquarters are in Cheryomushki District, South-Western Administrative Okrug, Moscow...

, 37% (approx. $20 billion) in Surgutneftegaz and 50% in the oil-trading company Gunvor
Gunvor (oil trader)
Gunvor Group Ltd is an energy trading company registered in Nicosia, Cyprus , with major trading operations in Geneva and Singapore. The company operates in the trade, transport and storage of petroleum and other energy products, as well as having investments in oil terminal and port facilities...

. Gunvor's turnover in 2007 was $40 billion. The aggregate estimated value of these holdings would easily make Putin Russia's richest person. In December 2007, Belkovsky elaborated on his claims: "Putin's name doesn't appear on any shareholders' register, of course. There is a non-transparent scheme of successive ownership of offshore companies and funds. The final point is in Zug
Zug
Zug , is a German-speaking city in Switzerland. The name ‘Zug’ originates from fishing vocabulary; in the Middle Ages it referred to the right to ‘pull up’ fishing nets and hence to the right to fish.The city of Zug is located in the Canton of Zug and is its capital...

, Switzerland
Switzerland
Switzerland name of one of the Swiss cantons. ; ; ; or ), in its full name the Swiss Confederation , is a federal republic consisting of 26 cantons, with Bern as the seat of the federal authorities. The country is situated in Western Europe,Or Central Europe depending on the definition....

, and Liechtenstein
Liechtenstein
The Principality of Liechtenstein is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Central Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east. Its area is just over , and it has an estimated population of 35,000. Its capital is Vaduz. The biggest town is Schaan...

. Vladimir Putin should be the beneficiary owner." Asked at a press conference on 14 February 2008 whether he was the richest person in Europe, as some newspapers claimed; and if so, to state the source of his wealth, Putin said "This is true. I am the richest person not only in Europe, but also in the world. I collect emotions. And I am rich in that respect that the people of Russia have twice entrusted me with leadership of such a great country as Russia. I consider this to be my biggest fortune. As for the rumors concerning my financial wealth, I have seen some pieces of paper regarding this. This is plain chatter, not worthy discussion, plain bosh. They have picked this in their noses and have smeared this across their pieces of paper. This is how I view this."

Evidence in support of the allegations of Belkovsky and others was provided in December 2010 and the early months of 2011 by Sergei Kolesnikov
Sergei Kolesnikov (whistleblower)
Sergei Vladimirovich Kolesnikov is a Russian businessman and former associate of Vladimir Putin currently believed to be living in exile in Europe...

, a businessman with ties to Putin dating from his time in St. Petersburg. In an open letter to Dmitri Medvedev and in media interviews he claimed that he and other named individuals had participated in a scheme that involved a proportion of donations from businessmen including Roman Abramovich
Roman Abramovich
Roman Arkadyevich Abramovich is a Russian businessman and the main owner of the private investment company Millhouse LLC.In 2003, Abramovich was named Person of the Year by Expert, a Russian business magazine. He shared this title with Mikhail Khodorkovsky...

 and Alexei Mordashov
Alexei Mordashov
Alexey Mordashov was born on 26 September 1965 in Cherepovets, Vologda Oblast. He is a Russian business oligarch and self-made billionaire...

, ostensibly intended for health infrastructure projects, being siphoned off into a Switzerland-based investment fund managed for Putin's benefit. Besides more conventional investments, the fund was allegedly used for the construction of a large Italianate palace for Putin's personal use, nicknamed Putin's Palace
Putin's Palace
"Putin's Palace" is a name used by the media for a large Italianate palace located on the Black Sea coast near the village of Praskoveevka in Gelendzhik, Krasnodar Krai, Russia. It has been claimed that the dacha was built for the personal use of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, and that its...

, located on the Black Sea coast near the village of Praskoveevka in Krasnodar Krai, Russia. Kolesnikov also claimed that state resources were illegitimately used for the palace's construction. The Kremlin issued a denial of the allegations, which has subsequently been undermined by the investigative journalism of Novaya Gazeta
Novaya Gazeta
Novaya Gazeta is a Russian newspaper well known in the country for its critical and investigative coverage of Russian political and social affairs....

, which found a paper trail leading to the Kremlin.

Honors

  • In September 2006, France's president Jacques Chirac
    Jacques Chirac
    Jacques René Chirac is a French politician who served as President of France from 1995 to 2007. He previously served as Prime Minister of France from 1974 to 1976 and from 1986 to 1988 , and as Mayor of Paris from 1977 to 1995.After completing his studies of the DEA's degree at the...

     awarded Vladimir Putin the insignia of Grand-Croix (Grand Cross) of the Légion d'honneur
    Légion d'honneur
    The Legion of Honour, or in full the National Order of the Legion of Honour is a French order established by Napoleon Bonaparte, First Consul of the Consulat which succeeded to the First Republic, on 19 May 1802...

    , the highest French decoration, to celebrate his contribution to the friendship between the two countries. This decoration is usually awarded to the heads of state considered very close to France.
  • In 2007, Putin was named Time magazine's
    Time (magazine)
    Time is an American news magazine. A European edition is published from London. Time Europe covers the Middle East, Africa and, since 2003, Latin America. An Asian edition is based in Hong Kong...

     Person of the Year
    Person of the Year
    Person of the Year is an annual issue of the United States newsmagazine Time that features and profiles a person, couple, group, idea, place, or machine that "for better or for worse, ...has done the most to influence the events of the year."- History :The tradition of selecting a Man of the Year...

    .
  • On 12 February 2007 Saudi
    Saudi Arabia
    The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , commonly known in British English as Saudi Arabia and in Arabic as as-Sa‘ūdiyyah , is the largest state in Western Asia by land area, constituting the bulk of the Arabian Peninsula, and the second-largest in the Arab World...

     King Abdullah
    Abdullah of Saudi Arabia
    Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud, Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, is the King of Saudi Arabia. He succeeded to the throne on 1 August 2005 upon the death of his half-brother, King Fahd. When Crown Prince, he governed Saudi Arabia as regent from 1998 to 2005...

     awarded Putin the King Abdul Aziz Award, Saudi Arabia's top civilian decoration.
  • On 10 September 2007 UAE
    United Arab Emirates
    The United Arab Emirates, abbreviated as the UAE, or shortened to "the Emirates", is a state situated in the southeast of the Arabian Peninsula in Western Asia on the Persian Gulf, bordering Oman, and Saudi Arabia, and sharing sea borders with Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, and Iran.The UAE is a...

     President Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan awarded Putin the Order of Zayed
    Order of Zayed
    - Recipients :* Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, Crown Prince of Qatar in 2005* Vladimir Putin, Russia's Prime Minister on September 10, 2007* Queen Elizabeth II on November 25, 2010....

    , UAE's top civil decoration.
  • In December 2007 Putin was named Person of the Year by Expert magazine
    Expert magazine
    Expert or Ekspert magazine is Russia's leading business weekly magazine, established in 1995 in Moscow by a group of editors and journalists who departed from Kommersant publishing house. It covers economics and finance, Russian business, international business, politics, science and technology,...

    , influential and respected Russian business weekly.
  • In February 2011 Kyrgyzstan
    Kyrgyzstan
    Kyrgyzstan , officially the Kyrgyz Republic is one of the world's six independent Turkic states . Located in Central Asia, landlocked and mountainous, Kyrgyzstan is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east...

     parliament named a peak in Tian Shan
    Tian Shan
    The Tian Shan , also spelled Tien Shan, is a large mountain system located in Central Asia. The highest peak in the Tian Shan is Victory Peak , ....

     mountains Vladimir Putin Peak
    Vladimir Putin Peak
    Vladimir Putin Peak is a mountain of the Tian Shan mountain range in Kyrgyzstan. Located in the Chuy Province. Named in 2011 for the second president of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin.- See also :...

    .

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