This is the story of Vladimir Putin. A man who is notorious for his brutal dictatorship and ruthless personality.
Putin’s story begins in 1952 when he was born in St. Petersburg. He grew up in a modest family with his mother who was a factory worker and his father a former naval conscript.
Putin’s childhood was one of hardship. He lived in rat-infested communal housing that he shared with two other families. His former school teacher described his home as being cold and awful.
If that wasn’t bad enough, his two older brothers tragically passed away. One of them died at birth and the other fell victim to the brutal 900-day siege of Leningrad during World War Two.
During this time religion was banned in the country. But despite this strict legislation, his mother secretly baptized him as an orthodox Christian and he has remained one ever since.
Unsurprisingly, Putin was a bright and intelligent child and as a result, he was selected to attend one of St. Petersburg’s most prestigious highschools known as school 281. He had a keen interest in history and would often read the works of Karl Marx and Lenin.
Being a small child and living in rough conditions, Putin developed an interest in Judo growing up and eventually earned a black belt in the sport. Ultimately, he wanted to defend himself against his bullies.
But, this lust for power didn’t stop there and he would go on to join a street gang shaping the young boy into the hardened leader we know today.
Fast forward to 1970 and he would go on to attend Leningrad State University where he would study law and ultimately graduate in 1975.
Career at the KGB
Like most of his countrymen, he was also required to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Union remaining active there until the collapse of the USSR. Shortly after he would pursue a career in the KGB, the Soviet Union’s notorious intelligence agency.
His first role was the second chief directorate working counter-intelligence before being promoted to first chief doctorate whereby he would surveil foreigners and consular officials in St. Petersburg.
While at the KGB it is widely considered that Putin was sent to New Zealand through corroborating witnesses and government records. However, little is known about his objectives.
Then from 1985 to 1990, he was stationed in Dresden Germany under the pseudonym “Mr Adamov” to conceal his true identity. During his stay in Germany, Putin’s object was to spy on NATO nations.
According to author John Loyd his official objective was to “track the political leanings of East Germans and their contacts with the West”
However, there is speculation about the effectiveness of his operations. For instance, author Masha Gessen stated that he was “reduced to mainly collecting press clipping”.
This was further backed by his former KGB colleague Vladimir Usoltsev. Ultimately, after an uneventful career at the KGB, Putin was forced back to Russia after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989.
Then, after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Putin entered politics and quickly rose through the ranks. In 1999, he became the Prime Minister of Russia, and the following year he was elected President, a position he would hold for the next eight years.
During his presidency, Putin was credited with stabilizing the Russian economy and restoring the country’s status as a major world power. Under his rule, the Russian economy grew on average by seven percent annually for his first term.
However, Putin’s tenure as President was not without controversy. His government was accused of human rights abuses, suppressing political opposition, and stifling freedom of the press.
Critics have also alleged that Putin was using his power to enrich himself and his inner circle and that his government was rife with corruption. Not to mention, in order to cement his authoritarian rule, Putin appointed several ex-KGB colleagues.
Despite these criticisms, Putin remained popular among many Russians, who saw him as a strong leader who was bringing stability and prosperity to their country.
In 2008, Putin was forced to step down as President due to term limits, but he remained an influential figure in Russian politics as prime minister to Dmitry Medvedev.
In 2012, Putin was once again elected President, this time with a sweeping majority of the vote. However, his third term in office was marked by increasing tensions with the West, particularly over Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
This resulted in the west issuing sanctions and plunging the Russian economy into a financial crisis. But his shenanigans don’t stop there. As you may know, there are countless other examples of his ruthlessness. Including the recent invasion of Ukraine.
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But, despite these challenges, Putin remains a dominant figure in Russian politics, with a cult-like following among his supporters.
His critics see him as a dangerous authoritarian who is eroding democracy and human rights in Russia, but to his supporters, he is a strong leader who is standing up for his country against foreign adversaries.
Regardless of one’s opinion of Putin, it is clear that his impact on the political landscape of the 21st century will be felt for years to come. Thanks for reading.
Want to learn about the story of Kim Jung-un? Click here to read my previous article.