Vladimir Putin

Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin, (;, born 7 October 1952), has been the President of Russia since 7 May 2012. Putin was Prime Minister from 1999 to 2000, President from 2000 to 2008, and again Prime Minister from 2008 to 2012. During his second term as Prime Minister, he was the Chairman of the United Russia Party, the ruling party. Putin was a KGB officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before retiring in 1991 to enter politics in his native Saint Petersburg. He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President Boris Yeltsin’s administration, rising quickly through the ranks and becoming Acting President on 31 December 1999, when Yeltsin resigned. Putin won the subsequent 2000 presidential election by a 52% to 30% margin, thus avoiding a runoff with his Communist Party opponent, Gennady Zyuganov. He was reelected President in 2004 with 72% of the vote. Because of constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term in 2008. The 2008 presidential election was won by Dmitry Medvedev, who appointed Putin Prime Minister, beginning a period of so-called „tandemocracy”. In September 2011, after presidential terms were extended from four to six years, Putin announced he would seek a third term as president. He won the March 2012 presidential election with 64% of the vote, a result which aligned with pre-election polling. Opposition groups accused Putin and the United Russia party of fraud. During Putin’s first presidency, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, and GDP measured in purchasing power increased 72%. The growth was a result of the 2000s commodities boom, high oil prices, and prudent economic and fiscal policies. The economy began to experience difficulties with the arrival of the global economic crisis of 2008-2009, falling oil prices, Western sanctions imposed at the beginning of 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine, with GDP shrinking by 3.7% in 2015. In 2015, The Economist magazine’s Democracy Index classified Russia as „authoritarian”, ranking it 132nd out of 167 countries. Putin has enjoyed very high domestic approval ratings throughout his career, particularly following the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In 2007, he was Time Magazine’s Person of the Year, and in 2004, 2008, 2014, and 2015, he was placed on its 100 Most Influential People in the World list. In 2013, 2014, and 2015, he was designated #1 on the Forbes List of The World’s Most Powerful People.

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