VLADIMIR VLADIMIROVICH PUTIN, born on 7th October 1952 is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer who is serving as the current President of Russia.
He was also the prime minister from 1999 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 2012. Putin is the second-longest serving European president in modern history. Putin was born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) and studied law at Leningrad State University, graduating in 1975. Putin worked as a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel, before resigning in 1991 to begin a political career in Saint Petersburg. He later moved to Moscow in 1996 to join the administration of president Boris Yeltsin. He briefly served as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and secretary of the Security Council, before being appointed as prime minister in August 1999. After the resignation of Yeltsin, Putin became acting president, and less than four months later was elected outright to his first term as president and was reelected in 2004. As he was then constitutionally limited to two consecutive terms as president, Putin chose to become the prime minister again from 2008 to 2012, and was reelected as president in 2012, and again in 2018. In April 2021, following a referendum, he signed into law constitutional amendments including one that would allow him to run for reelection twice more, potentially extending his presidency to 2036. During his first tenure as president, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, with GDP measured by purchasing power increasing by 72%, real incomes increased by a factor of 2.5, real wages more than tripled; unemployment and poverty more than halved and the Russians’ self-assessed life satisfaction rose significantly. The growth was a result of a fivefold increase in the price of oil and gas which constitute the majority of Russian exports, recovery from the post-Communist depression and financial crises, a rise in foreign investment, and prudent economic and fiscal policies. Serving under Dmitry Medvedev from 2008 to 2012, he oversaw large-scale military reform and police reform. In 2012, Putin sought a third term as president and won with almost 64% of the vote. Falling oil prices coupled with international sanctions imposed at the beginning of 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the War in Donbas led to GDP shrinking by 3.7% in 2015, though the Russian economy rebounded in 2016 with 0.3% GDP growth, and the recession officially ended. Development under Putin has included the construction of pipelines, the restoration of the satellite navigation system GLONASS, and the building of infrastructure for international events such as the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. Putin received 76% of the vote in the 2018 election and was re-elected for a six-year term ending in 2024.
On 15 March 2020, Putin instructed to form a Working Group of the State Council to counteract the spread of coronavirus. Putin appointed Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin as the head of the Group. On 22 March 2020, after a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Putin arranged the Russian army to send military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy, which was the European country hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. On 24 March 2020, Putin visited a hospital in Moscow’s Kommunarka, where patients with coronavirus are kept, where he spoke with them and with doctors. Vladimir Putin began working remotely from his office at Novo-Ogaryovo. According to Dmitry Peskov, Putin passes daily tests for coronavirus, and his health is not in danger. On 25 March, President Putin announced in a televised address to the nation that the 22 April constitutional referendum would be postponed due to the coronavirus. He added that the next week would be a nationwide paid holiday and urged Russians to stay at home. Putin also announced a list of measures of social protection, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and changes in fiscal policy. Putin announced the following measures for microenterprises, small- and medium-sized businesses: deferring tax payments (except Russia’s value-added tax) for the next six months, cutting the size of social security contributions in half, deferring social security contributions, deferring loan repayments for the next six months, a six-month moratorium on fines, debt collection, and creditors’ applications for bankruptcy of debtor enterprises. On 2 April, Putin again issued an address in which he announced prolongation of the non-working time until 30 April. Putin likened Russia’s fight against COVID-19 to Russia’s battles with invading Pecheneg and Cuman steppe nomads in the 10th and 11th centuries. In a 24 to 27 April Levada poll, 48% of Russian respondents said that they disapproved of Putin’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and his strict isolation and lack of leadership during the crisis was widely commented as sign of losing his “strongman”. In June 2021, Putin said he was fully vaccinated against the disease with the Sputnik V vaccine, emphasizing that while vaccinations should be voluntary, making them mandatory in some professions would slow down the spread of COVID-19.