Putin, Vladimir (1952–)

Born in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin served as the second president of Russia. During his one-year appointment as the last of Boris Yeltsin's prime ministers, he unexpectedly became acting president of Russia on December 31, 1999, following Yeltsin's resignation after 8 years in power. Putin's first decision was to grant immunity from prosecution to his predecessor, who had been under investigation for money laundering by Russian and Swiss authorities. Elected president in the first round by a clear majority of 57%, Putin projected the image of a literally and metaphorically strong leader (a judo black belt), a welcome change for Russians nostalgic about the country's glorious past. Putin's firm approach to the Chechen crisis combined with his law-and-order image have kept his ...

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