Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich

(1952– )
   Putin, the current president of the Russian Federation, was an intelligence officer for 15 years. After serving in Leningrad with the KGB, Putin was posted to Dresden, in East Germany, where he operated with the Stasi in collecting scientific and technical intelligence. Putin returned to Leningrad in 1990 with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Putin reportedly targeted Western businesspeople who had access to proprietary industrial information.
   Putin was downsized out of the KGB in 1990 and worked for a former professor at his alma mater, Leningrad State University, and then in the Leningrad/St. Petersburg government—the city reverted to its pre-Soviet name after the dissolution of the USSR. In St. Petersburg, Putin came to the attention of Boris Yeltsin’s presidential administration and was brought to Moscow in 1997. In 1998 he was appointed head of the FSB (Federal Security Service). In August 1999 Yelstin made Putin prime minister; on the last day of that year, he was made interim president of the Russian Federation. Putin has since then won two general elections with solid support from the Russian “silent majority.” As president, he has led a second Chechen war, promising the Russian people to pursue terrorists without pause. He has also selectively moved to prosecute corrupt businesspeople who dominated Russian politics in the Yeltsin years.
   Since becoming president, Putin has relied heavily on the Russian intelligence services and former KGB colleagues, appointing many to senior posts in his administration. Putin is an admirer of former KGB Chair and Communist Party General Secretary Yuri Andropov. He apparently believes Russia needs a strong reformer who will use the security and intelligence services to accelerate Russia’s reforms. Russian liberals are deeply troubled by the war in Chechnya and Putin’s apparent willingness to ignore the law in prosecuting political enemies. Perhaps future historians will compare him to tsarist reformer Petr Stolypin, who combined repression with economic and political reform in the last decade of imperial power.

Historical dictionary of Russian and Soviet Intelligence. . 2014.

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