Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin (born 7 October 1952) is a Russian politician and a former officer of the KGB who has served as President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 1999 until 2008. He was also the Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 to 2000 and again from 2008 to 2012.
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 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.
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 five-fold 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. Putin served as Prime Minister under Dmitry Medvedev from 2008 to 2012, where he oversaw large scale military reform and police reform. In 2012, Putin sought a third term as president and won with 64% of the vote. Falling oil prices coupled with international sanctions imposed at the beginning of 2014 after Russias annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine 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 gained 76% of the vote in the 2018 election and was re-elected for a six-year term that will end in 2024.
Under Putins leadership, Russia has experienced democratic backsliding. Experts do not generally consider Russia to be a democracy, citing jailing of political opponents, curtailed press freedom, and the lack of free and fair elections. Russia has scored poorly on Transparency Internationals Corruption Perceptions Index, the Economist Intelligence Units Democracy Index and Freedom Houses Freedom in the World index (including a record low 20/100 rating in the 2017 Freedom in the World report, a rating not given since the time of the Soviet Union). Human rights organizations and activists accuse Putin of persecuting political critics and activists as well as ordering them tortured or assassinated; he has rejected accusations of human rights abuses. Officials of the United States government have accused him of leading an interference program against Hillary Clinton in support of Donald Trump during the U.S. presidential election in 2016, an allegation which both Trump and Putin have frequently denied and criticized.