Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is a Russian statesman and former intelligence officer serving as President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 2000 until 2008. He was Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 until the beginning of his first presidency in 2000, and again between presidencies from 2008 until 2012. Take a look below for 30 more interesting and fascinating facts about Vladimir Putin.
1. During his first term as Prime Minister, he served as Acting President of Russia due to the resignation of President Boris Yeltsin.
2. During his second term as Prime Minister, he was the chairman of the ruling United Russia party.
3. Putin was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union.
4. He studied law at Leningrad State University, graduating in 1975.
5. Putin was a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to rank of Lieutenant Colonel before resigning in 1991 to enter politics in Saint Petersburg.
6. He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President Boris Yeltsin’s administration, rising quickly through the ranks and becoming Acting President on December 31, 1999, when Yeltsin resigned.
7. Putin won the 2000 presidential election by a 53% to 30% margin, thus avoiding a runoff with his Communist Party of the Russian Federation opponent, Gennady Zyuganov.
8. He was reelected in 2004 with 72% of the vote.
9. During his first presidency, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, and GDP measured in purchasing power increased by 72%. The growth was a result of the 2000s commodities boom, high oil prices, and prudent economic and fiscal policies.
10. Because of constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term in 2008.
11. The 2008 presidential election was won by Dmitry Medvedev, who appointed Putin as Prime Minister, the beginning of what some opponents considered to be a period of “tandemocracy.”
12. In September 2011, after presidential terms were extended from four to six years, Putin announced that he would seek a third term as president.
13. He won the March 2012 presidential election with 64% of the vote, a result which aligned with pre-election polling.
14. Falling oil prices coupled with international sanctions imposed at the beginning of 2014 after Russian’s annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine led to the GDP shrinking by 3.7% in 2015, though the Russian economy rebounded in 2016 with 0.3% GDP growth and is officially out of the recession.
15. Putin gained 76% of the March 2018 presidential vote and was re-elected for a six year term that will end in 2024.
16. Under Putin’s leadership, Russia has scored poorly in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and experienced democratic backsliding according to both the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index and Freedom House’s Freedom in the World index.
17. Human rights organizations and activists have accused Putin of persecuting political critics and activists, as well as ordering them tortured or assassinated; however, he has rejected accusations of human rights abuses.
18. Officials of the United States government have accused him of leading an interference program against Hillary Clinton in support of Donald Trump during the U.S. presidential election in 2016, which both Trump and Putin have frequently denied and criticized.
19. Putin has enjoyed high domestic approval ratings during his career and received extensive international attention as one of the world’s most powerful leaders.
20. On August 18, 2015, Putin took a ride in a mini-sub to explore the ruins of a 10th century Byzantine trading ship. He’s also done this in 2013, when he dove in a submersible in the Gulf of Finland to explore the remains of a naval frigate.
21. He married Lyudmila Putin in 1983, and the couple had two daughters: Maria and Katerina Putin. The children went to school under assumed names for security reasons.
22. In April 2014, Putin and his wife separated after 31 years of marriage.
23. A gold-coated Apple Watch, which also depicts the Moscow skyline and the double-headed eagle of Russia’s coat of arms, was made by the Russian-Italian jewelry brand, Caviar Perna Penna. At $3,073, only 999 units of the “Putinwatch” were made.
24. Renowned photographer Platon photographed Putin for the Time Magazine cover, a simple head-shot that went on to win the World Press Photo 2008 award.
25. Platon and Putin bonded over their love for the Beatles during the shoot, after which Platon spent around $2,000 calling people to tell them about the experience.
26. His mother didn’t approve of his decision to start learning judo when he was 11 years old. However, now an avid martial artist, Putin earned the fifth dan black belt in judo in 2001, the highest ranked ninth dan in taekwondo in 2013 and the eighth dan black belt in karate in 2014.
27. Putin is a dog lover. He named his Bulgarian shepherd dog, Buffy, after holding a nationwide naming contest. His other dog is an Akita Inu named Yume.
28. Putin enjoys “active leisure” wherein he enjoys fishing, horse-riding, whitewater rafting, scuba diving, skiing and ice hockey.
29. His paternal grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Putin, worked as a chef at Lenin‘s country house and later as Stalin‘s chef. Trained by the NKVD, a predecessor to the KGB, Spiridon passed on how to balance political instincts with survival to his grandson.
30. Apart from Russian, Putin learned German in high school and speaks it fluently. He acted as an interpreter for German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her 2013 trip to Russia. He rarely uses English but he picked it up during his KGB jobs in Europe.