From Soviet spy to the highest elected position in the nation, Vladimir Putin has served as Russia’s president for 14 years. He’s the second longest-serving leader in modern Russian history, coming in second behind dictator Joseph Stalin. So how exactly did he rise to power?
Born in 1952, in Leningrad, known today as St. Petersburg, he grew up in a tiny communal apartment with 6 other people. He was enamored with the idea of being an intelligence officer, but apparently, he was too impulsive and un-disciplined. Determined to achieve his dream in some capacity, he approached the local branch of the KGB in 9th grade, but was told to not contact him again. The eventually approached him years later and ended up enlisting and training him as an agent.
He later went on to work in local St. Petersburg government. Boris Yeltsin eventually appointed Putin to his staff. As a politician, he wanted to help the post-Soviet economy while sustaining Russia as a global superpower. Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned in 1999, making him President, and Russia’s acting 21st century leader. The country has since become increasingly utilitarian under his rule. He has not only worked to silence and police the press, but has also arrested and, in some cases, murdered political opponents. He’s also become a controversial figure when it comes to foreign relations — particularly in the U.S.A. and Syria. And while news of alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 U.S. election dominates the news, experts also want people to be wary of its influence in other parts of the world as well.