Meaning of PUTIN, VLADIMIR in English

born Oct. 7, 1952, Leningrad, U.S.S.R. [now St. Petersburg, Russia] in full Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin Russian intelligence officer and politician who became president of Russia in 2000. Putin studied law at Leningrad State University, where his tutor was Anatoly Sobchak, later one of the leading reform politicians of the perestroika period. Putin spent 15 years as a foreign intelligence officer for the Committee for State Security (KGB), including six years in Dresden, East Germany (now Germany). In 1990 he retired from active KGB service with the rank of lieutenant colonel and returned to Russia to become prorector of Leningrad State University with responsibility for the institution's external relations. Soon afterward, Putin became an adviser to Sobchak, the first democratically elected mayor of St. Petersburg. He quickly won Sobchak's confidence and became known for his ability to get things done; by 1994 he had risen to the post of first deputy mayor. In 1996 Putin moved to Moscow, where he joined the presidential staff as deputy to Pavel Borodin, the Kremlin's chief administrator. Putin grew close to fellow Leningrader Anatoly Chubais and moved up in administrative positions. In July 1998 President Boris Yeltsin made Putin director of the Federal Security Service (the KGB's domestic successor), and shortly thereafter he became secretary of the influential Security Council. Yeltsin, who was searching for an heir to assume his mantle, appointed Putin prime minister in 1999. As prime minister, the virtually unknown Putin saw his public-approval ratings soar when he launched a well-organized military operation against the secessionist rebels in Chechnya. Wearied by years of Yeltsin's erratic behaviour, the population appreciated Putin's coolness and decisiveness under pressure. Putin's support for the new electoral bloc, Unity, ensured its success in the December parliamentary elections. On December 31, 1999, Yelstin unexpectedly announced his resignation and named Putin acting president. Promising to rebuild a weakened Russia, the austere and reserved Putin easily won the March 2000 elections with about 53 percent of the vote. As president, Putin sought to end corruption and create a strongly regulated free-market economy. He faced a difficult situation in Chechnya, where the rebels had proved to be unexpectedly tenacious.

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