Vladimir Putin was born on October 7, 1952 in Leningrad. “I come from an ordinary family, and this is how I lived for a long time, nearly my whole life. I lived as an average, normal person and I have always maintained that connection,” Mr Putin recalls.
Vladimir Putin’s mother, Maria Shelomova, was a very kind, benevolent person.
“We lived simply - cabbage soup, cutlets, pancakes, but on Sundays and holidays my Mom would bake very delicious stuffed buns [pirozhki] with cabbage, meat and rice, and curd tarts [vatrushki],” Mr Putin says.
His mother did not approve of his decision to do judo. “Every time I went to a practice session, she would grumble, ‘He’s off to his fights again.’” Things changed after Vladimir Putin’s coach visited his home and told his parents about what he did and what he achieved; the family’s attitude toward this sport changed.
My mother baked some very delicious stuffed buns – with cabbage, meat and rice, — and curd tarts.Vladimir Putin
His father, Vladimir Putin, participated in the war. In the 1950s, he worked as a security guard and later as a foreman at the carriage works.
“My father was born in St Petersburg in 1911. When World War I began, life in St Petersburg became hard, people were starving, so the entire family moved to Pominovo, a village in the Tver Region my grandmother came from. Incidentally, my relatives still vacation in the house where my grandparents lived. It was in Pominovo that my father met my mother, and they got married at the age of 17.”
After the war, the Putin family moved into a room in a communal apartment [kommunalka], in a typical St Petersburg dwelling house on Baskov Lane. Vladimir Putin recalls, “It was a building with a well-like yard. Fifth floor. No elevator. Before the war [World War II], my parents occupied half of the house in Peterhof and were very proud of the living standards they had achieved then. It wasn’t really much, but it seemed like an ultimate dream to them.”
In 1960-1968, Vladimir Putin attended Primary School No. 193 in Leningrad. After the eighth grade, he entered High School No. 281, a chemistry-focused magnet school under the aegis of a technology institute, completing his studies there in 1970.
I was always late for my first class, so even in winter I didn’t have time to dress properly.Vladimir Putin
From first and eighth grade, Vladimir Putin studied at School No. 193. As he recalls, he was a troublemaker, not a Pioneer.
His teacher, Vera Gurevich, recalls, “In the fifth grade, he still hadn’t found himself yet, but I could feel the potential, the energy and the character in him. I saw that he had a great deal of interest in language; he picked it up easily. He had a very good memory and an agile mind.
I thought, something good will come of this boy, so I decided to give him more attention, to distract him from the boys on the streets.”
Until the sixth grade, Vladimir Putin was not very interested in studying, but his teacher Vera Gurevich saw that he could do better and get higher grades.
She met with his father asking him to influence his son. It did not help much, but Vladimir Putin himself radically changed his attitude toward his studies when he was in the sixth grade.
Mr Putin notes, “Other priorities were emerging. I was asserting myself through sports, achieving something. There were new goals, too. No doubt, this had an enormous effect.”
In the sixth grade, Vladimir Putin decided that he needed to achieve something in life, so he began getting good grades, which came easily to him. He was allowed to join the Young Pioneers organisation, and almost immediately became the head of a Pioneer detachment in his class.
“It became clear that street smarts were not enough, so I began doing sports. But even that was not enough for maintaining my status, so to speak, for very long. I realised that I also needed to study well,” Vladimir Putin says.
In 1970, Vladimir Putin became a student of law department at Leningrad State University, earning his degree in 1975. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, Mr Putin studied at KGB School No. 1 in Moscow.
Even before I finished high school, I wanted to work in intelligence. Granted, soon after, I decided I wanted to be a sailor, but then I wanted to do intelligence again. In the very beginning, I wanted to be a pilot.Vladimir Putin
Even before he finished school, Vladimir Putin wanted to work in intelligence. He went to a public reception office of the KGB Directorate to find out how to become an intelligence officer. There, he was told that first, he would have to either serve in the army or complete college, preferably with a degree in law.
“And from that moment, I began preparing myself to enter the law department at Leningrad State University,” Mr Putin notes.
In 1970, Vladimir Putin was admitted to law department at Leningrad State University. “We had a class of 100 people, and only 10 of them entered immediately after high school, the rest had already completed military service. So for us, the high-school graduates, only one out of 40 was admitted. I got four out of five for the essay, but top marks for everything else, so I passed.”
“When I began studying at the university, new goals and new values emerged. I mainly focused on studies, and began seeing sports as secondary. But, of course, I trained on a regular basis and participated in nation-wide competitions, almost out of habit.”
After graduating from Leningrad State University, Putin was assigned to work in the state security agencies. “My perception of the KGB was based on the idealistic stories I heard about intelligence.”
He was first appointed to the Directorate secretariat, then the counterintelligence division, where he worked for about five months. Half a year later, he was sent to operations personnel retraining courses.
Mr Putin spent another six months working in the counterintelligence division.
That was when he drew attention from foreign intelligence officers. “Fairly quickly, I left for special training in Moscow, where I spent a year. Then I returned again to Leningrad, worked there in the First Main Directorate – the intelligence service. That directorate had branches in major cities of the Soviet Union, including Leningrad. I worked there for about four and a half years.”
Then Mr Putin returned again to Moscow to study at the Andropov Red Banner Institute, where he was trained for his trip to Germany.
Having completed his studies at the Andropov Institute, Vladimir Putin left for East Germany in 1985 and worked there until 1990. But before he left, another major event in his life took place.
Vladimir Putin met Lyudmila Shkrebneva through a mutual friend. Lyudmila worked as a flight attendant on domestic airlines and had come to Leningrad for three days with a friend.
“I was already working in the First Main Directorate in St Petersburg, when a friend of mine called and invited me to the Arkady Raikin theatre. He said he already had the tickets, and mentioned there would be two young ladies joining us. So we went to the performance and the young ladies did join us. The next day, we went to the theatre again, but it was now my turn to buy the tickets. And the same thing happened on the third day. I then began dating one of the girls. I became friends with Lyudmila, my future wife,” Mr Putin recalls.
“There was something about Vladimir that attracted me. Three or four months later, I already knew this was the man I needed,” Lyudmila recalls. Three years after their first meeting, Vladimir proposed to Lyudmila. “I knew that if I did not marry for another two or three years, I would not marry at all. True, I was used to life as a bachelor, but Lyudmila changed that,” Mr Putin admits. They got married on July 28, 1983.
I became friends with Lyudmila, my future wife.Vladimir Putin
In 1985, before their departure for Germany, Vladimir and Lyudmila Putin welcomed their first daughter, Maria. Their second daughter, Katerina, was born in 1986, in Dresden.
Both girls were named in honour of their grandmothers, Maria Putina and Yekaterina Shkrebneva.
According to their mother, Lyudmila, Mr Putin loves his daughters very much. “Not all fathers are as loving with their children as he is. And he has always spoiled them, while I was the one who had to discipline them,” she says.
In 1985-1990, Vladimir Putin worked in East Germany. He served at the local intelligence office in Dresden. Over the course of his service, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant colonel and to the position of senior assistant to the head of the department. In 1989, he was awarded the bronze medal issued in the German Democratic Republic, For Faithful Service to the National People’s Army.
“My work was going well. It was a normal thing to be promoted just once while working abroad. I was promoted twice,” Mr Putin says.
After returning to Leningrad from Germany in 1990, Vladimir Putin became assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University in charge of international relations. In 1996, he and his family moved to Moscow, where his political career began.
After returning to Leningrad from Dresden in 1990, Vladimir Putin found new job as assistant to the rector of Leningrad State University, in which position he was responsible for international relations. “I was happy to find work at Leningrad State University,” he later recalled. “I took the job hoping at the same time to write my Ph.D. thesis and, perhaps, stay on and work there afterwards. That was how I ended up, in 1990, becoming assistant to the rector in charge of international relations.”
Soon he also became an adviser to the chairman of the Leningrad City Council.
Starting in June 1991, Putin began work as Chairman of the Committee for International Relations at the St Petersburg City Hall, and from 1994, concurrently held the position of Deputy Chairman of the St Petersburg City Government.
After starting work at the City Hall, Putin sent in his resignation from the KGB.
Probably the fact that I did not want to be any sort of president helped.Vladimir Putin
In 1996, Vladimir Putin moved with his family to Moscow, where he was offered the post of Deputy Chief of the Presidential Property Management Directorate. “I would not say that I did not like Moscow, but simply that I liked St Petersburg more. But Moscow was very obviously a European city,” Putin recalled.
His career rise was rapid. In March 1997, he was appointed Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office and Chief of Main Control Directorate. Busy with work as he was, he still found time to defend his doctoral thesis on economics at the St Petersburg State Mining Institute. In May 1998, Putin was made First Deputy Chief of Staff of the Presidential Executive Office, and in July 1998, he was appointed Director of the Federal Security Service. From March 1999, he also held the position of Secretary of the Security Council of the Russian Federation.
In August 1999, Putin was appointed Prime Minister of the Russian Government. The post was offered to him by then President Boris Yeltsin.
As Putin later recalled, “Mr Yeltsin invited me to come and see him and said that he wanted to offer me the prime minister’s job. <…> Incidentally, he never used the word ‘successor’ in his conversation with me then, but spoke of becoming ‘prime minister with prospects’, and said that if all went well, he thought this could be possible”.
Putin described his time in the prime minister’s office as an honour and an interesting experience. “I thought then, if I can get through a year that will already be a good start. If I can do something to help save Russia from falling apart then this would be something to be proud of.”
Shortly before the New Year of 2000 rolled in, President of Russia Boris Yeltsin proposed that Vladimir Putin become Acting President.
“Two or three weeks before New Year, Mr Yeltsin called me to his office and said that he had decided to step down. This meant I would have to become Acting President,” Putin recalled.
Putin described it as not an easy decision to make, given that it is “a rather heavy load to bear”.
“I had my own thoughts, my own reasoning, but at the same time, there was another logic I had to consider too. Fate was offering me the chance to work for the country at the very highest level and it would have been foolish to say, no, I’m going to go and sell sunflower seeds instead, or go into private legal practice. I could do all those other things later after all, and so I decided that this had to come first, and everything else later,” Putin explained his choice.
On December 31, 1999, Vladimir Putin became Acting President of the Russian Federation.
Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia on March 26, 2000, and was re-elected to a second term on March 14, 2004. On May 8, 2008, he was appointed Prime Minister by presidential executive order.
Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia on March 26, 2000. He was officially inaugurated on May 7, 2000.
In his inauguration speech he said, “We have common aims, we want our Russia to be a free, prosperous, flourishing, strong and civilized country, a country that its citizens are proud of and that is respected internationally.” He added that he would be guided solely by the interests of the state. “Perhaps it will not be possible to avoid mistakes, but what I can promise and what I do promise is that I will work openly and honestly”, Putin said.
I consider it to be my sacred duty to unify the people of Russia, to rally citizens around clear aims and tasks, and to remember every day and every minute that we have one Motherland, one people and one future.Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin was re-elected to a second presidential term on March 14, 2004. In his Address to the Federal Assembly on May 26, 2004, Putin said, “Our goals are very clear. We want high living standards and a safe, free and comfortable life for the country. We want a mature democracy and a developed civil society. We want to strengthen Russia’s place in the world. But our main goal, I repeat, is to bring about a noticeable rise in our people’s prosperity.
We have better knowledge today of our own potential and we know what resources we have at our disposal. We understand the obstacles we could face in reaching the goals we have set and we are actively modernising the state in order to make sure that its functions correspond to the present stage of Russia’s development – that of achieving a real rise in living standards.”
On May 8, 2008, Vladimir Putin was appointed Russian Prime Minister by presidential executive order.
“Russia has grown much stronger in recent years,” Putin said at a session of the Russian Federation State Duma. “We have enough resources to tackle still more ambitious tasks and goals. The important thing is to make competent, effective and proper use of the accumulated potential. For my part I am ready to exert every effort to achieve the goals set, to deliver new and significant results for the prosperity of our country and for the sake of a worthy life for Russian citizens.”
People are at the centre of the Prime Minister’s attention. Putin said that the authorities must draw their support solely from the Russian people, and if this support is absent, the authorities have no place in power. In November 2011, Putin was nominated as candidate for Russian president.
Vladimir Putin took the reconstruction of homes and compensation for victims of the wildfires in the summer of 2010 under his personal control.
Round-the-clock monitoring was set up at the sites where new housing was being built for the fire victims. Video cameras working 24 hours a day were installed at all of the main sites. The construction work could be followed on monitors at the Government House, at Vladimir Putin’s residence, and on the Government website. Families of those killed by the fires received 1 million rubles [$33,000] in compensation, and each member of families affected by the fires received 100,000 rubles. All of the people whose homes were destroyed received new homes or apartments by the start of winter, or, at their request, received monetary compensation. A total of 2,200 families built new homes.
If I do something, I try to see it through to its completion, or at least try to ensure that it brings the maximum result.Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin is an active supporter of measures to develop the agricultural sector. “Step by step, we are becoming full-fledged masters of our own food and agricultural markets. This is the result of our work to develop the country’s agricultural sector, and is the visible fruit of the hard work put in by our grain growers, livestock farmers, and processing companies,” he said.
Support for military personnel is another priority for Putin. Servicemen will see their service pay and military pensions increase substantially by 2013, and they will receive housing.
On September 5, 2011, Vladimir Putin announced that over the course of the 2011-2012 academic year, teachers’ wages all around the country must be at least as high as the average wage in each given region’s economy. He has taken this process under his personal control.
The delegates at the second round of United Russia’s 12th party congress approved Vladimir Putin as their candidate in the 2012 presidential election.
Vladimir Putin was elected President of Russia on March 4, 2012.