Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born on October 7, 1952. Vladimir Putin is Russia‘s current president and a former intelligence officer. He has held this position since 2012, and he previously held it from 1999 to 2008. He was previously Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2012. Putin is Europe’s second-longest-serving president, behind Alexander Lukashenko.

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Putin was born in Leningrad and earned a law degree from Leningrad State University in 1975. Putin spent 16 years as a KGB foreign intelligence officer, reaching the rank of lieutenant colonel before retiring in 1991 to pursue a political career in Saint Petersburg. He eventually relocated to Moscow in 1996 to join President Boris Yeltsin’s cabinet. Before being named Prime Minister in August 1999, he temporarily served as Director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Secretary of the Security Council. Following Yeltsin’s resignation, Putin took over as acting president and was elected outright to his first term as president less than four months later. He was re-elected in 2004.

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Because he was constitutionally restricted to two consecutive terms as president at the time, Putin served as prime minister again under Dmitry Medvedev from 2008 to 2012, then returned to the President in 2012 in an election marked by claims of fraud and demonstrations; he was reelected again in 2018. Following a vote, he signed constitutional amendments into law in April 2021, including one that would let him compete for reelection twice more, perhaps extending his reign until 2036.

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Russia has turned to authoritarianism under Putin’s leadership. Experts usually do not believe Russia to be a democracy, citing political opponents’ imprisonment and persecution, intimidation and control of the free press, and a lack of free and fair elections.