born Oct. 7, 1952, Leningrad, U.S.S.R.
Russian president (from 1999).
Putin served 15 years with the KGB , including six years in Dresden, East Ger. In 1990 he retired from active KGB service and returned to Russia to become prorector of Leningrad State University, and by 1994 he had risen to the post of first deputy mayor of the city. In 1996 he moved to Moscow, where he joined the presidential staff as deputy to Pavel Borodin, the Kremlin's chief administrator. In July 1998 President Boris Yeltsin made Putin director of the Federal Security Service (the KGB's domestic successor). In 1999 Yeltsin appointed Putin prime minister, and on December 31 of that year Yeltsin stepped down as president in Putin's favour. Three months later Putin won a resounding electoral victory, partly the result of his success in the battle to keep Chechnya from seceding. In his first term he asserted central control over Russia's 89 regions and republics and moved to reduce the power of Russia's unpopular financiers and media tycoons. The period was also marked by frequent terrorist attacks by Chechen separatists. Putin easily won reelection in 2004.