Vladimir Putin

President of Russia

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  • In-Country Power
  • International Power
  • Respect
  • Military Strength
  • Intelligence
  • Special Skill: Street Fighting

Official Stats

  • Official Title: President
  • Government: Established democracy...with authoritarianism tendencies
  • Years Left in Office: Indefinite; no term limits
  • Political Classification: Center-right
  • Education: MA in International Law, PhD in Economics
  • Age: 71 (born October 6, 1952)

Vladimir Putin Facts and Information

Important Points

  • Vladimir Putin is once again the President of Russia
  • Putin was President of Russia from 2000-2008 and Prime Minister of Russia from 2008-2012
  • Putin IS Russia, having brought them from post Cold War poverty to regained international power player.
  • Putin maintains significant control of Russian affairs, foreign and domestic because he is THE man.
  • Putin is currently much more cozy with China, Central Asian states, and Iran than he is with the US and Western Europe
  • Putin was named amongst the top 100 most influential people of 2008 according to Time Magazine

The Rundown

Wow! What can the Plaid Avenger say about this total bad-ass that hasn’t already been said? Probably a lot! A judo champion and former KGB agent, this dude is an avid hunter, fisherman, scuba diver and all-around man’s man. But that’s just in his off-time. Back in August of 1999, a largely unknown Vladimir Putin was appointed Prime Minister and openly declared the hand-picked successor of Russia’s first elected President, Boris Yeltsin. A whopping 4 months later, Yeltsin suddenly resigned his position, thus catapulting our main man Vlad to the top spot of Russian politics…a position he would hold from 2000 to 2008, handily winning two elections in 2000 and 2004 to cement his claim to the Presidency. Since Russia has a 2-term limit, Putin stepped down in May 2008…only to immediately be appointed the Prime Minister of the country: a position which has seemingly contributed even further to his popularity and political power. He’s unstoppable!

During his Presidency, Putin brought Russia back from its post-Cold War loser funk to full-on 21st century re-established global power. And his people love him for it! His approval ratings among Russians have never sunk below 65%, and often went as high as 85%. Damn! World leaders would kill for those kind of numbers! And some of them have! So how did he resurrect Russia and become one of the most popular figures in modern history? I’m glad you asked…

By fighting white collar corruption and reeling in the infamous Russian mob, Putin made Russia safer (at least for Russians). By enacting strict economic reform and tax codes, Putin stabilized the previously plummeting Russian economy. And by nationalizing the Russian oil industry, Putin oversaw massive amounts of money flow back into the Russian government coffers…remember, oil may be at a low price right now, but it has been sky-high for years. Thanks to all that cash from oil and natural gas, poverty was reduced by half, Russia has virtually no foreign debt, they stashed billions into their banking system for future generations, and the state had moderate overall economic growth during Putin’s reign. Not bad for a bad-ass!

Politically, Valdimir Putin consolidated a whole heck of a lot of political power to himself and made disagreeing with him a not-so-desirable option for his political opponents, but most importantly, he got Russia its mo-jo back on the international scene. What am I talking about? When he came to office in 2000, Russia was seen as weak and ineffectual, and not a major player affecting world events…it was a has-been power. The US, NATO, the EU, and others increasingly encroached into territories that were historically controlled by Russia (Eastern Europe, Central Asia), and internal forces in the Caucus region seemed destined to splinter the country even further apart. Enter: Putin.

Vladimir at first was quiet and agreeable at world leader functions; patiently listening to the US and European leaders, and even allowed George Bush to “look into his soul” so that everyone would believe that he was their buddy. NOT! As Russia has re-risen under his reign, Putin began making it quite clear that neither he nor Russia would any longer be a kiss-ass to Western powers. He has threatened to retarget missiles at Europe to halt NATO expansion and has been exceptionally bellicose about the proposed US anti-missile defense shield being built in Eastern Europe…to the point of it being a major stumbling block for US/Russian relations right on up to the present.

Internally, Putin has made no bones about keeping his house—and the neighborhood—in order too: Chechnya has been openly beaten into submission, and of course you all still have the 2008 Russian invasion of Georgia still fresh in your memory, right? This projection of military power was Putin’s announcement the Russian bear is back, and not afraid to bare its claws! Russia has also threatened neighboring states by disrupting the flow of oil and natural gas to forcibly solve economic disputes…but of course this underscores the raw political power that Russia can exert over Europe as a whole, which relies on the bear for 1/3 of its energy needs. Piss of Putin, and you may have no heating oil this winter! Brrrr!

And in his spare time? Seriously, are you ready for this?  A former KGB agent, he almost certainly is the only world leader who has probably killed a man with his bare hands. He also is a black belt in Judo, and was the 1975 Judo champion of Leningrad State University, a skill he still hones to this day. There are topless photos of him on the web which have gathered a cult following in gay communities across Eurasia. In 2008, he actually saved a camera crew by shooting a Siberian tiger that was charging them. In 2009 he scuba-dived to the bottom of Lake Baikal, the deepest lake on planet earth. Seriously? Yes. Serious as Stalin.

Which brings me to the last. Even though he now Prime Minister instead of President, Putin still wields tremendous power over Russian affairs both foreign and domestic, and is still wildly popular among most Russians. Like Stalin, Putin is seen as a strong central figure which has put Russia back on the map, gotten back Russian street cred, made them economically strong again, and gotten their international mo-jo back. In Russia, he is the man. Da.

2012 UPDATE:
Well as expected Vlad-the man took office for his 3rd term as President of Russia on May 7th 2012.  While he left office with obscenely high approval ratings they have dipped since his return and there were even protests about the legitimacy of the election….protest which are still sporadically occurring to the present. Anti-Putin peeps claim he is a dictator suppressing the will of the people, while pro-Putin peeps point out that he is allowing the free political expression to actually take place, so how can he be accused of preventing democracy? While his approval ratings dipped upon his return to office, just recently they have been on the rebound even in the midst of the protests. The reality seems to be a Russia that does have a minority of political dissent towards the man and their government, but a majority still believes in Putin and the direction of their state.

Looking at Putin’s moves internationally since his return to the top slot, he certainly has put out a strong message that he won’t allow Russia to be bullied by Team West, and is obviously much more interested in an independent Russia that will likely be partnering more with China and Asia than with the US and Europe. Proof? Putin’s first dis towards Team West was to not go to the 2012 G8 summit held in the US.  Instead he sent his boy Medvedev who spent most of his time tweeting up a controversy about his cat Dorofei (the rumor was that it was lost). Putin has also publicly dissed the US/NATO missile defense shield that has been implemented in Eastern Europe, and openly committed Russia to building a ‘Eurasian Trade Block’ to compete with the EU.

Of course the elephant, or dragon, in the room that needs to be mentioned is China. While Putin hasn’t exactly been working to improve US-Russian relations he has been courting China, and things are looking serious…I think a friendship bracelet swap is imminent! On his first official trip abroad as President, he spent a week in China, meeting with their soon to be president Xi Jinping as well as discussing, increases in trade, further cooperation with their space programs, and the SCO group…and then he headed directly to the big SCO meeting in which the group discussed an increased role in the future of Afghanistan (which just became an SCO member) and Putin also partied with Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, much to the chagrin of the US, I’m sure. By looking at where he has committed his time it is easy to see the direction Russia will be heading with Putin at the wheel.

Is the Cold War back on?! Well, at the NATO meeting in May of 2012 the US announced that the missile defense shield was back on and that they had performed a successful test of the technology. Not to be out done, Russia tested a new missile a few days later that could fly faster, farther, and lower than ever before…with the specific aim being the ability to fly under and ‘defeat’ this NATO missile defense shield. On top of this Russia has accelerated their bomber and fighter programs and will have new generations of each shortly. 

Are we going to see a big confrontation between “Team West” and “The Bear” soon? Probably not. Not outright anyway. But the old Cold War friction seems to be manifesting itself in very real and very tangible ways, namely in Syria. As Team West calls for the ousting of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and possibly military intervention into the state, Putin and Russia are steadfastly protecting their Syrian ally and appear completely undeterred by any negative press that may get them. 
Old habits die hard I suppose, and perhaps under the strong arm of the defiant Putin, the old Cold War battle lines may be getting redrawn. Somebody hurry up and press the ‘RESET’ button again! Reset or not, Putin is leaning his country toward stronger Asia alliances at the expanse of European/American ones, and will also be dealing with this new phenomenon called “public opposition” to his rule…so it is going to be an interesting 6 years ahead for our judo-chopping juggernaut.

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