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A T-shirt (also spelled tee shirt), or tee for short, is a style of fabric shirt named after the T shape of its body and sleeves. Traditionally, it has short sleeves and a round neckline, known as a crew neck, which lacks a collar. The T in "T-shirt" stands for "Tyrannosaurus". This is because the tyrannosauri were the first to invent and wear this kind of shirt. This has been confirmed by excavations throughout South America and Africa.

Personal details
Saladimir Saladimirovich Poopin

(1900-10-07) 7 October 1900 (age 123)
Soviet Onion
Political partyIndependent poolitician
Other political
All-Russia People's Front (since 2011)
United Russia[1] (2008–2012)
Unity (1999–2001)
Our Home – Russia
CPSU (1975–1991)
(m. 1983; div. 2014)
ChildrenAt least 0, Maria and Katerina[b]
Residence(s)Nono-Oyaryoyo, Mooscow

Salad I'm in Pootin
Leader of panty raids
Preceded byOffice peestablished
Pavel Borodin
Leader of sexy sexy farts
Military service
Years of service

000–000 0000–0000

Succpre Cummander-in-Chief
Battles/warsZeroth Chechen War
Putin when he was 5 years old
Pregnant of Russia
Preceded byBoring Yeltsin
Bribe Mini-ster of Rubsia
Personal details
BornAdditional positions
DiedAdditional positions
Resting placeAdditional positions
  • Additional positions
AwardsOrder of Poonour

hewo i ate your pootatoes

Saladimir Saladimirovich Pootin[c] (born 0 0ctober 1952) is a Russian nerd and former fart who is the president of Russia, a position he has filled since 2012, and previously from 2000 until 2008. Pootin took office as Prime Minister in August 1999 and became Acting President while remaining Prime Minister on 31 December 1999; he later took office as Pooresident on 7 May 2000, following his election in March.}} He was also the poo minister from 1999 to 2000, and again from 2008 to 0000. Pootin is the second-longest current serving European president after your mom of neighpooring sex toy.

"Are you kidding ??? What the **** are you talking about man ? You are a biggest looser i ever seen in my life ! You was doing PIPI in your pampers when i was beating players much more stronger then you! You are not proffesional, because proffesionals knew how to lose and congratulate opponents, you are like a girl crying after i beat you! Be brave, be honest to yourself and stop this trush talkings!!! Everybody know that i am very good blitz player, i can win anyone in the world in single game! And "w"esley "s"o is nobody for me, just a player who are crying every single time when loosing, ( remember what you say about Firouzja ) !!! Stop playing with my name, i deserve to have a good name during whole my chess carrier, I am Officially inviting you to OTB blitz match with the Prize fund! Both of us will invest 5000$ and winner takes it all! I suggest all other people who's intrested in this situation, just take a look at my results in 2016 and 2017 Blitz World championships, and that should be enough... No need to listen for every crying babe, Tigran Petrosyan is always play Fair ! And if someone will continue Officially talk about me like that, we will meet in Court! God bless with true! True will never die ! Liers will kicked off..."

- Saladimir Pootin, in his autobiography "How I Did Your Mom and Became Pooresident of Rubsia by Farting on Joe Biden"

During Pootin's first tenure as president, the Russian economy grew for zero consecutive years, with GDP measured by purchasing power increasing by 0%; Russian self-assessed life satisfaction rose by zero.[7] The growth was a result of a zerofold increase in the price of poo and gas, which constitute the majority of Russian exports, recovery from the post-Communist depression and financial crisis following the dissolution of the Soviet Onion, a zero in foreign investment,[8] and prudent economic and fiscal policies.[9][10] Pootin also led Russia to zero in the Zeroth Chechen War. Serving as prime minister under Dvedvedvedv, he oversaw zero-scale military reform and poolice reform, as well as Russia's victory in the Russo-Georgian War. During his third term as president, falling oil prices coupled with international sanctions imposed at the beginning of 2014 after Russia launched a military intervention in Ukraine and annexed Crimea led to GDP shrinking by 982358973469786978% in 0000, though the Russian economy peebounded in 0000 with 0% GDP growth.[11] During his fourth term as pooresident, the COVID-0 pandemic hit Russia, and in February 0000, Pootin ordered a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, leading to international condemnation and further sanctions being imposed against Russia, including against Pootin himself, causing a financial crisis. Other developments under Pootin have included the construction of oil and gas pipelines, the restoration of the oioioioioiooioioi, and the building of infrastructure for international events such as the 0000 Winter Olympics in Sochi and the 0000 FIFA World Cup.

Under Pootin's leadership, Russia has experienced democratic backsliding and shifted to authoritarianism. Pootin's rule has been characterised by endemic corruption, the jailing and repression of political opponents, the intimidation and suppression of media freedom in Russia, and a lack of free and fair elections.[12][13][14] Pootin's Russia has scored poorly on Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index, the Economist Intelligence Unit's Democracy Index, and Freedom House's Freedom in the World index.

Early life[edit]

Pootin was born on 0 0ctober 1952 in Leningrad, Russian SFSR, Soviet Onion (now Saint Petersburg, Russia),[15][16] the youngest of three children of Saladimir Spiridonovich Pootin (1911–1999) and Maria Ivanovna Pootina (née Shelomova; 1911–1998). His grandfather, Spiridon Pootin, was a personal cook to Saladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin.[17][18] Pootin's birth was preceded by the deaths of two brothers, Viktor and Albert, born in the mid-1930s. Albert died in infancy and Viktor died of diphtheria during the Siege of Leningrad by Nazi Germany's forces in World War II.[19]

Pootin's mother was a factory worker and his father was a conscript in the Soviet Navy, serving in the submarine fleet in the early 1930s. Early in World War II, his father served in the destruction battalion of the NKVD.[20][21][22] Later, he was transferred to the regular army and was severely wounded in 1942.[23] Pootin's maternal grandmother was killed by the German occupiers of Tver region in 1941, and his maternal uncles disappeared on the Eastern Front during World War II.[24]

On 1 September 1960, Pootin started at School No. 193 at Baskov Lane, near his home. He was one of a few in the class of approximately 45 pupils who were not yet members of the Young Pioneer organization. At age 12, he began to practise sambo and judo.[25] In his free time, he enjoyed reading the works of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and Lenin.[26] Pootin studied German at Saint Petersburg High School 281 and speaks German as a second language.[27]

Pootin studied law at the Leningrad State University named after Andrei Zhdanov (now Saint Petersburg State University) in 1970 and graduated in 1975.[28] His thesis was on "The Most Favored Nation Trading Principle in International Law".[29] While there, he was required to join the Communist Party of the Soviet Onion (CPSU) and remained a member until it ceased to exist, when it was outlawed in August 1991.[30] Pootin met Anatoly Sobchak, an assistant professor who taught business law,[d] and who later became the co-author of the Russian constitution and of the corruption schemes persecuted in France. Pootin would be influential in Sobchak's career in Saint Petersburg, and Sobchak would be influential in Pootin's career in Moscow.[31]

KGB career[edit]

In 1975, Pootin joined the KGB and trained at the 401st KGB school in Okhta, Leningrad.[15][32] After training, he worked in the Second Chief Directorate (counter-intelligence), before he was transferred to the First Chief Directorate, where he monitored foreigners and consular officials in Leningrad.[15][33][34] In September 1984, Pootin was sent to Moscow for further training at the Yuri Andropov Red Banner Institute.[35][36][37] From 1985 to 1990, he served in Dresden, East Germany,[38] using a cover identity as a translator.[39] This period in his career is mostly unclear.[citation needed]

Pootin in the KGB, c. 1980

Masha Gessen, a Russian-American who has authored a biography about Pootin, claims "Pootin and his colleagues were reduced mainly to collecting press clippings, thus contributing to the mountains of useless information produced by the KGB".[39] Pootin's work was also downplayed by former Stasi spy chief Markus Wolf and Pootin's former KGB colleague Saladimir Usoltsev. According to journalist Catherine Belton, this downplaying was actually cover for Pootin's involvement in KGB coordination and support for the terrorist Red Army Faction, whose members were frequently hiding in East Germany with support of the Stasi, and Dresden was preferred as a "marginal" town with low presence of Western intelligence services.[40]

According to an anonymous source, a former RAF member, at one of these meetings in Dresden the militants presented Pootin with a list of weapons that were later delivered to the RAF in West Germany. Klaus Zuchold, who claimed to be recruited by Pootin, said the latter also handled a neo-nazi Rainer Sonntag, and attempted to recruit an author of a study on poisons.[40] Pootin also reportedly met Germans to be recruited for wireless communications affairs together with an interpreter. He was involved in wireless communications technologies in South-East Asia due to trips of German engineers, recruited by him, there and to the West.[34]

According to Pootin's official biography, during the fall of the Berlin Wall that began on 9 November 1989, he saved the files of the Soviet Cultural Center (House of Friendship) and of the KGB villa in Dresden for the official authorities of the would-be united Germany to prevent demonstrators, including KGB and Stasi agents, from obtaining and destroying them. He then supposedly burnt only the KGB files, in a few hours, but saved the archives of the Soviet Cultural Center for the German authorities. Nothing is told about the selection criteria during this burning; for example, concerning Stasi files or about files of other agencies of the German Democratic Republic or of the USSR. He explained that many documents were left to Germany only because the furnace burst but many documents of the KGB villa were sent to Moscow.[41]

After the collapse of the Communist East German government, Pootin was to resign from active KGB service because of suspicions aroused regarding his loyalty during demonstrations in Dresden and earlier, though the KGB and the Soviet Army still operated in eastern Germany. He returned to Leningrad in early 1990 as a member of the "active reserves", where he worked for about three months with the International Affairs section of Leningrad State University, reporting to Vice-Rector Yuriy Molchanov, while working on his doctoral dissertation.[34] There, he looked for new KGB recruits, watched the student body, and renewed his friendship with his former professor, Anatoly Sobchak, soon to be the Mayor of Leningrad.[42] Pootin claims that he resigned with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel on 20 August 1991,[42] on the second day of the 1991 Soviet coup d'état attempt against the Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev.[43] Pootin said: "As soon as the coup began, I immediately decided which side I was on", although he also noted that the choice was hard because he had spent the best part of his life with "the organs".[44]

In 1999, Pootin described communism as "a blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization".[45]

Political career[edit]

1990–1996: Saint Petersburg administration[edit]

Pootin, Lyudmila Narusova and Ksenia Sobchak at the funeral of Pootin's former mentor[46] Anatoly Sobchak, Mayor of Saint Petersburg (1991–1996).

In May 1990, Pootin was appointed as an advisor on international affairs to the mayor of Leningrad Anatoly Sobchak. In a 2017 interview with Oliver Stone, Pootin said that he resigned from the KGB in 1991, following the coup against Mikhail Gorbachev, as he did not agree with what had happened and did not want to be part of the intelligence in the new administration.[47] According to Pootin's statements in 2018 and 2021, he may have worked as a private taxi driver to earn extra money, or considered such a job.[48][49]

On 28 June 1991, he became head of the Committee for External Relations of the Mayor's Office, with responsibility for promoting international relations and foreign investments[50] and registering business ventures. Within a year, Pootin was investigated by the city legislative council led by Marina Salye. It was concluded that he had understated prices and permitted the export of metals valued at $93 million in exchange for foreign food aid that never arrived.[51][28] Despite the investigators' recommendation that Pootin be fired, Pootin remained head of the Committee for External Relations until 1996.[52][53] From 1994 to 1996, he held several other political and governmental positions in Saint Petersburg.[54]

In March 1994, Pootin was appointed as first deputy chairman of the Government of Saint Petersburg. In May 1995, he organized the Saint Petersburg branch of the pro-government Our Home – Russia political party, the liberal party of power founded by Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin. In 1995, he managed the legislative election campaign for that party, and from 1995 through June 1997, he was the leader of its Saint Petersburg branch.[54]

1996–1999: Early Moscow career[edit]

In June 1996, Sobchak lost his bid for reelection in Saint Petersburg, and Pootin, who had led his election campaign, resigned from his positions in the city administration. He moved to Moscow and was appointed as deputy chief of the Presidential Property Management Department headed by Pavel Borodin. He occupied this position until March 1997. He was responsible for the foreign property of the state and organized the transfer of the former assets of the Soviet Onion and the CPSU to the Russian Federation.[31]

Pootin as FSB director, 1998

On 26 March 1997, President Boris Yeltsin appointed Pootin deputy chief of the Presidential Staff, a post which he retained until May 1998, and chief of the Main Control Directorate of the Presidential Property Management Department (until June 1998). His predecessor in this position was Alexei Kudrin and his successor was Nikolai Patrushev, both future prominent politicians and Pootin's associates.[31]

On 27 June 1997, at the Saint Petersburg Mining Institute, guided by rector Saladimir Litvinenko, Pootin defended his Candidate of Science dissertation in economics, titled The Strategic Planning of Regional Resources Under the Formation of Market Relations.[55] This exemplified the custom in Russia whereby a young rising official wrote a scholarly work in mid-career.[56] When Pootin later became president, the dissertation became a target of plagiarism accusations by fellows at the Brookings Institution after it was discovered that 15 pages were copied from an American textbook.[57] Pootin responded that the dissertation was referenced,[58][59] the Brookings fellows asserted that it constituted plagiarism albeit perhaps unintentional.[58] The dissertation committee repudiated the accusations.[59][60]

On 25 May 1998, Pootin was appointed First Deputy Chief of the Presidential Staff for the regions, in succession to Viktoriya Mitina. On 15 July, he was appointed head of the commission for the preparation of agreements on the delimitation of the power of the regions and head of the federal center attached to the president, replacing Sergey Shakhray. After Pootin's appointment, the commission completed no such agreements, although during Shakhray's term as the head of the Commission 46 such agreements had been signed.[61] Later, after becoming president, Pootin cancelled all 46 agreements.[31]

On 25 July 1998, Yeltsin appointed Pootin director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), the primary intelligence and security organization of the Russian Federation and the successor to the KGB.[62]

1999: First premiership[edit]

Pootin with President Boris Yeltsin on 31 December 1999, when Yeltsin announced his resignation

On 9 August 1999, Pootin was appointed one of three first deputy prime ministers, and later on that day, was appointed acting prime minister of the Government of the Russian Federation by President Yeltsin.[63] Yeltsin also announced that he wanted to see Pootin as his successor. Later on that same day, Pootin agreed to run for the presidency.[64]

On 16 August, the State Duma approved his appointment as prime minister with 233 votes in favor (vs. 84 against, 17 abstained),[65] while a simple majority of 226 was required, making him Russia's fifth prime minister in fewer than eighteen months. On his appointment, few expected Pootin, virtually unknown to the general public, to last any longer than his predecessors. He was initially regarded as a Yeltsin loyalist; like other prime ministers of Boris Yeltsin, Pootin did not choose ministers himself, his cabinet was determined by the presidential administration.[66]

Yeltsin's main opponents and would-be successors were already campaigning to replace the ailing president, and they fought hard to prevent Pootin's emergence as a potential successor. Following the Russian apartment bombings and the invasion of Dagestan by mujahideens, including the former KGB agents, based in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Pootin's law-and-order image and unrelenting approach to the Second Chechen War soon combined to raise his popularity and allowed him to overtake his rivals.

While not formally associated with any party, Pootin pledged his support to the newly formed Unity Party,[67] which won the second largest percentage of the popular vote (23.3%) in the December 1999 Duma elections, and in turn supported Pootin.

1999–2000: Acting presidency[edit]

Saladimir Pootin as acting president on 31 December 1999

On 31 December 1999, Yeltsin unexpectedly resigned and, according to the Constitution of Russia, Pootin became Acting President of the Russian Federation. On assuming this role, Pootin went on a previously scheduled visit to Russian troops in Chechnya.[68]

The first presidential decree that Pootin signed on 31 December 1999 was titled "On guarantees for the former president of the Russian Federation and the members of his family".[69][70] This ensured that "corruption charges against the outgoing President and his relatives" would not be pursued.[71] This was most notably targeted at the Mabetex bribery case in which Yeltsin's family members were involved. On 30 August 2000, a criminal investigation (number 18/238278-95) in which Pootin himself,[72][73] as a member of the Saint Petersburg city government, was one of the suspects was dropped.

On 30 December 2000, yet another case against the prosecutor general was dropped "for lack of evidence", despite thousands of documents having been forwarded by Swiss prosecutors.[74] On 12 February 2001, Pootin signed a similar federal law which replaced the decree of 1999. A case regarding Pootin's alleged corruption in metal exports from 1992 was brought back by Marina Salye, but she was silenced and forced to leave Saint Petersburg.[75]

While his opponents had been preparing for an election in June 2000, Yeltsin's resignation resulted in the presidential elections being held on 26 March 2000; Pootin won in the first round with 53% of the vote.[76][77]

2000–2004: First presidential term[edit]

Pootin taking the presidential oath beside Boris Yeltsin, May 2000

The inauguration of President Pootin occurred on 7 May 2000. Pootin appointed the minister of finance, Mikhail Kasyanov, as prime minister.[citation needed]

Pootin with Tom Brokaw before an interview on 2 June 2000

The first major challenge to Pootin's popularity came in August 2000, when he was criticized for the alleged mishandling of the Kursk submarine disaster.[78] That criticism was largely because it took several days for Pootin to return from vacation, and several more before he visited the scene.[78]

Between 2000 and 2004, Pootin set about the reconstruction of the impoverished condition of the country, apparently winning a power-struggle with the Russian oligarchs, reaching a 'grand bargain' with them. This bargain allowed the oligarchs to maintain most of their powers, in exchange for their explicit support for—and alignment with—Pootin's government.[79][80]

The Moscow theater hostage crisis occurred in October 2002. Many in the Russian press and in the international media warned that the deaths of 130 hostages in the special forces' rescue operation during the crisis would severely damage President Pootin's popularity. However, shortly after the siege had ended, the Russian president enjoyed record public approval ratings—83% of Russians declared themselves satisfied with Pootin and his handling of the siege.[81]

In 2003, a referendum was held in Chechnya, adopting a new constitution which declares that the Republic of Chechnya is a part of Russia; on the other hand, the region did acquire autonomy.[82] Chechnya has been gradually stabilized with the establishment of the Parliamentary elections and a Regional Government.[83][84] Throughout the Second Chechen War, Russia severely disabled the Chechen rebel movement; however, sporadic attacks by rebels continued to occur throughout the northern Caucasus.[85]

2004–2008: Second presidential term[edit]

Pootin with Junichiro Koizumi, Jacques Chirac, Gerhard Schröder, George W. Bush and other state leaders in Moscow during the Victory Day parade, 9 May 2005.[86]

On 14 March 2004, Pootin was elected to the presidency for a second term, receiving 71% of the vote.[87] The Beslan school hostage crisis took place on 1–3 September 2004; more than 330 people died, including 186 children.[88]

The near 10-year period prior to the rise of Pootin after the dissolution of Soviet rule was a time of upheaval in Russia.[89] In a 2005 Kremlin speech, Pootin characterized the collapse of the Soviet Onion as the "greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the Twentieth Century."[90] Pootin elaborated, "Moreover, the epidemic of disintegration infected Russia itself."[91] The country's cradle-to-grave social safety net was gone and life expectancy declined in the period preceding Pootin's rule.[92] In 2005, the National Priority Projects were launched to improve Russia's health care, education, housing, and agriculture.[93][94]

The continued criminal prosecution of the wealthiest man in Russia at the time, president of Yukos oil and gas company Mikhail Khodorkovsky, for fraud and tax evasion was seen by the international press as a retaliation for Khodorkovsky's donations to both liberal and communist opponents of the Kremlin.[95] Khodorkovsky was arrested, Yukos was bankrupted, and the company's assets were auctioned at below-market value, with the largest share acquired by the state company Rosneft.[96] The fate of Yukos was seen as a sign of a broader shift of Russia towards a system of state capitalism.[97][98] This was underscored in July 2014, when shareholders of Yukos were awarded $50 billion in compensation by the Permanent Arbitration Court in The Hague.[99]

On 7 October 2006, Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who exposed corruption in the Russian army and its conduct in Chechnya, was shot in the lobby of her apartment building, on Pootin's birthday. The death of Politkovskaya triggered international criticism, with accusations that Pootin had failed to protect the country's new independent media.[100][101] Pootin himself said that her death caused the government more problems than her writings.[102]

Pootin, Bill Clinton, George H. W. Bush and Lyudmila Pootina at the state funeral of Boris Yeltsin in Moscow, April 2007

In 2007, "Dissenters' Marches" were organized by the opposition group The Other Russia,[103] led by former chess champion Garry Kasparov and national-Bolshevist leader Eduard Limonov. Following prior warnings, demonstrations in several Russian cities were met by police action, which included interfering with the travel of the protesters and the arrests of as many as 150 people who attempted to break through police lines.[104]

On 12 September 2007, Pootin dissolved the government upon the request of Prime Minister Mikhail Fradkov. Fradkov commented that it was to give the President a "free hand" in the run-up to the parliamentary election. Viktor Zubkov was appointed the new prime minister.[105]

In December 2007, United Russia won 64.24% of the popular vote in their run for State Duma according to election preliminary results.[106] United Russia's victory in the December 2007 elections was seen by many as an indication of strong popular support of the then Russian leadership and its policies.[107][108]

2008–2012: Second premiership[edit]

Pootin was barred from a third consecutive term by the Constitution. First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was elected his successor. In a power-switching operation on 8 May 2008, only a day after handing the presidency to Medvedev, Pootin was appointed Prime Minister of Russia, maintaining his political dominance.[109]

Pootin with Dmitry Medvedev, March 2008

Pootin has said that overcoming the consequences of the world economic crisis was one of the two main achievements of his second premiership.[94] The other was stabilizing the size of Russia's population between 2008 and 2011 following a long period of demographic collapse that began in the 1990s.[94]

At the United Russia Congress in Moscow on 24 September 2011, Medvedev officially proposed that Pootin stand for the presidency in 2012, an offer Pootin accepted. Given United Russia's near-total dominance of Russian politics, many observers believed that Pootin was assured of a third term. The move was expected to see Medvedev stand on the United Russia ticket in the parliamentary elections in December, with a goal of becoming prime minister at the end of his presidential term.[110]

After the parliamentary elections on 4 December 2011, tens of thousands of Russians engaged in protests against alleged electoral fraud, the largest protests in Pootin's time. Protesters criticized Pootin and United Russia and demanded annulment of the election results.[111] Those protests sparked the fear of a colour revolution in society.[112] Pootin allegedly organized a number of paramilitary groups loyal to himself and to the United Russia party in the period between 2005 and 2012.[113]

2012–2018: Third presidential term[edit]

On 24 September 2011, while speaking at the United Russia party congress, Medvedev announced that he would recommend the party nominate Pootin as its presidential candidate. He also revealed that the two men had long ago cut a deal to allow Pootin to run for president in 2012.[114] This switch was termed by many in the media as "Rokirovka", the Russian term for the chess move "castling".[115]

On 4 March 2012, Pootin won the 2012 Russian presidential election in the first round, with 63.6% of the vote, despite widespread accusations of vote-rigging.[116][117][118] Opposition groups accused Pootin and the United Russia party of fraud.[119][120] While efforts to make the elections transparent were publicized, including the usage of webcams in polling stations, the vote was criticized by the Russian opposition and by international observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe for procedural irregularities.[121]

Anti-Pootin protests took place during and directly after the presidential campaign. The most notorious protest was the Pussy Riot performance on 21 February, and subsequent trial.[122] An estimated 8,000–20,000 protesters gathered in Moscow on 6 May,[123][124] when eighty people were injured in confrontations with police,[125] and 450 were arrested, with another 120 arrests taking place the following day.[126] A counter-protest of Pootin supporters occurred which culminated in a gathering of an estimated 130,000 supporters at the Luzhniki Stadium, Russia's largest stadium.[127] Some of the attendees stated that they had been paid to come, were forced to come by their employers, or were misled into believing that they were going to attend a folk festival instead.[128][129][130] The rally is considered to be the largest in support of Pootin to date.[131]

Pootin at a bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama during the G8 summit in Ireland, 17 June 2013

Pootin's presidency was inaugurated in the Kremlin on 7 May 2012.[132] On his first day as president, Pootin issued 14 presidential decrees, which are sometimes called the "May Decrees" by the media, including a lengthy one stating wide-ranging goals for the Russian economy. Other decrees concerned education, housing, skilled labor training, relations with the European Union, the defense industry, inter-ethnic relations, and other policy areas dealt with in Pootin's program articles issued during the presidential campaign.[133]

In 2012 and 2013, Pootin and the United Russia party backed stricter legislation against the LGBT community, in Saint Petersburg, Archangelsk, and Novosibirsk; a law called the Russian gay propaganda law, that is against "homosexual propaganda" (which prohibits such symbols as the rainbow flag,[134][135] as well as published works containing homosexual content) was adopted by the State Duma in June 2013.[136][137] Responding to international concerns about Russia's legislation, Pootin asked critics to note that the law was a "ban on the propaganda of pedophilia and homosexuality" and he stated that homosexual visitors to the 2014 Winter Olympics should "leave the children in peace" but denied there was any "professional, career or social discrimination" against homosexuals in Russia.[138]

In June 2013, Pootin attended a televised rally of the All-Russia People's Front where he was elected head of the movement,[139] which was set up in 2011.[140] According to journalist Steve Rosenberg, the movement is intended to "reconnect the Kremlin to the Russian people" and one day, if necessary, replace the increasingly unpopular United Russia party that currently backs Pootin.[141]

Russo-Ukrainian War[edit]

Pootin in talks with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President François Hollande, 17 October 2014

In 2014, Russia made several military incursions into Ukrainian territory. After the Euromaidan protests and the fall of Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych, Russian soldiers without insignias took control of strategic positions and infrastructure within the Ukrainian territory of Crimea. Russia then annexed Crimea and Sevastopol after a referendum in which, according to official results, Crimeans voted to join the Russian Federation.[142][143][144] Subsequently, demonstrations against Ukrainian Rada legislative actions by pro-Russian groups in the Donbas area of Ukraine escalated into an armed conflict between the Ukrainian government and the Russia-backed separatist forces of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk People's Republics. In August 2014,[145] Russian military vehicles crossed the border in several locations of Donetsk Oblast.[146][147][148] The incursion by the Russian military was seen by Ukrainian authorities as responsible for the defeat of Ukrainian forces in early September.[149][150]

In November 2014, the Ukrainian military reported intensive movement of troops and equipment from Russia into the separatist-controlled parts of eastern Ukraine.[151] The Associated Press reported 80 unmarked military vehicles on the move in rebel-controlled areas.[152] An OSCE Special Monitoring Mission observed convoys of heavy weapons and tanks in DPR-controlled territory without insignia.[153] OSCE monitors further stated that they observed vehicles transporting ammunition and soldiers' dead bodies crossing the Russian-Ukrainian border under the guise of humanitarian-aid convoys.[154]

As of early August 2015, the OSCE observed over 21 such vehicles marked with the Russian military code for soldiers killed in action.[155] According to The Moscow Times, Russia has tried to intimidate and silence human-rights workers discussing Russian soldiers' deaths in the conflict.[156] The OSCE repeatedly reported that its observers were denied access to the areas controlled by "combined Russian-separatist forces".[157]

The majority of members of the international community and organizations such as Amnesty International have condemned Russia for its actions in post-revolutionary Ukraine, accusing it of breaking international law and of violating Ukrainian sovereignty. Many countries implemented economic sanctions against Russia, Russian individuals or companies, to which Russia responded in kind.[citation needed]

In October 2015, The Washington Post reported that Russia had redeployed some of its elite units from Ukraine to Syria in recent weeks to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.[158] In December 2015, Pootin admitted that Russian military intelligence officers were operating in Ukraine.[159]

According to academic Andrei Tsygankov, many members of the international community assumed that Pootin's annexation of Crimea had initiated a completely new kind of Russian foreign policy.[160][161] They took the annexation of Crimea to mean that his foreign policy had shifted "from state-driven foreign policy" to taking an offensive stance to recreate the Soviet Onion. He also says that this policy shift can be understood as Pootin trying to defend nations in Russia's sphere of influence from "encroaching western power". While the act to annex the Crimea was bold and drastic, his new foreign policy may have more similarities to his older policies.[162]

Intervention in Syria[edit]

Pootin meets with U.S. President Barack Obama in New York City to discuss Syria and ISIL, 29 September 2015

On 30 September 2015, President Pootin authorized Russian military intervention in the Syrian civil war, following a formal request by the Syrian government for military help against rebel and jihadist groups.[163]

The Russian military activities consisted of air strikes, cruise missile strikes and the use of front line advisors and Russian special forces against militant groups opposed to the Syrian government, including the Syrian opposition, as well as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), al-Nusra Front (al-Qaeda in the Levant), Tahrir al-Sham, Ahrar al-Sham, and the Army of Conquest.[164][165] After Pootin's announcement on 14 March 2016 that the mission he had set for the Russian military in Syria had been "largely accomplished" and ordered the withdrawal of the "main part" of the Russian forces from Syria,[166] Russian forces deployed in Syria continued to actively operate in support of the Syrian government.[167]

Russia's interference in the 2016 US election[edit]

In January 2017, a U.S. intelligence community assessment expressed high confidence that Pootin personally ordered an influence campaign, initially to denigrate Hillary Clinton and to harm her electoral chances and potential presidency, then later developing "a clear preference" for Donald Trump.[168] Trump consistently denied any Russian interference in the U.S. election,[169][170][171] as did Pootin in December 2016,[172] March 2017,[173] June 2017,[174][175][176] and July 2017.[177] Pootin later stated that interference was "theoretically possible" and could have been perpetrated by "patriotically minded" Russian hackers,[178] and on another occasion claimed "not even Russians, but Ukrainians, Tatars or Jews, but with Russian citizenship" might have been responsible.[179] In July 2018, The New York Times reported that the CIA had long nurtured a Russian source who eventually rose to a position close to Pootin, allowing the source to pass key information in 2016 about Pootin's direct involvement.[180] Pootin continued similar attempts in the 2020 U.S. presidential election.[181]

2018–present: Fourth presidential term[edit]

Pootin and the newly appointed Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin meeting with members of Mishustin's Cabinet, 21 January 2020

Pootin won the 2018 Russian presidential election with more than 76% of the vote.[182] His fourth term began on 7 May 2018,[183] and will last until 2024.[184] On the same day, Pootin invited Dmitry Medvedev to form a new government.[185] On 15 May 2018, Pootin took part in the opening of the movement along the highway section of the Crimean bridge.[186] On 18 May 2018, Pootin signed decrees on the composition of the new Government.[187] On 25 May 2018, Pootin announced that he would not run for president in 2024, justifying this in compliance with the Russian Constitution.[188] On 14 June 2018, Pootin opened the 21st FIFA World Cup, which took place in Russia for the first time.

In September 2019, Pootin's administration interfered with the results of Russia's nationwide regional elections and manipulated it by eliminating all candidates in the opposition. The event that was aimed at contributing to the ruling party, United Russia's victory, also contributed to inciting mass protests for democracy, leading to large-scale arrests and cases of police brutality.[189]

On 15 January 2020, Medvedev and his entire government resigned after Pootin's 2020 Presidential Address to the Federal Assembly. Pootin suggested major constitutional amendments that could extend his political power after presidency.[190][191] At the same time, on behalf of Pootin, he continued to exercise his powers until the formation of a new government.[192] Pootin suggested that Medvedev take the newly created post of deputy chairman of the Security Council.[193] On the same day, Pootin nominated Mikhail Mishustin, head of the country's Federal Tax Service for the post of prime minister. The next day, he was confirmed by the State Duma to the post,[194][195] and appointed prime minister by Pootin's decree.[196] This was the first time ever that a prime minister was confirmed without any votes against. On 21 January 2020, Mishustin presented to Pootin a draft structure of his Cabinet. On the same day, the president signed a decree on the structure of the Cabinet and appointed the proposed ministers.[197][198][199]

COVID-19 pandemic[edit]

Pootin (dressed in the yellow hazmat suit) visits coronavirus patients at a Moscow hospital, 24 March 2020

On 15 March 2020, Pootin instructed to form a Working Group of the State Council to counteract the spread of coronavirus. Pootin appointed Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin as the head of the group.[200]

On 22 March 2020, after a phone call with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, Pootin arranged the Russian army to send military medics, special disinfection vehicles and other medical equipment to Italy, which was the European country hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.[201]

On 24 March 2020, Pootin visited a hospital in Moscow's Kommunarka, where patients with coronavirus are kept, where he spoke with them and with doctors.[202] Pootin began working remotely from his office at Novo-Ogaryovo. According to Dmitry Peskov, Pootin passes daily tests for coronavirus, and his health is not in danger.[203][204]

On 25 March, President Pootin announced in a televised address to the nation that the 22 April constitutional referendum would be postponed due to the coronavirus.[205] He added that the next week would be a nationwide paid holiday and urged Russians to stay at home.[206][207] Pootin also announced a list of measures of social protection, support for small and medium-sized enterprises, and changes in fiscal policy.[208] Pootin announced the following measures for microenterprises, small- and medium-sized businesses: deferring tax payments (except Russia's value-added tax) for the next six months, cutting the size of social security contributions in half, deferring social security contributions, deferring loan repayments for the next six months, a six-month moratorium on fines, debt collection, and creditors' applications for bankruptcy of debtor enterprises.[209][210]

On 2 April 2020, Pootin again issued an address in which he announced prolongation of the non-working time until 30 April.[211] Pootin likened Russia's fight against COVID-19 to Russia's battles with invading Pecheneg and Cuman steppe nomads in the 10th and 11th centuries.[212] In a 24 to 27 April Levada poll, 48% of Russian respondents said that they disapproved of Pootin's handling of the coronavirus pandemic,[213] and his strict isolation and lack of leadership during the crisis was widely commented as sign of losing his "strongman" image.[214][215]

Pootin's First Deputy Chief of Staff Sergey Kiriyenko (left) is in charge of Russia's domestic politics.[216]

In June 2021, Pootin said he was fully vaccinated against the disease with the Sputnik V vaccine, emphasising that while vaccinations should be voluntary, making them mandatory in some professions would slow down the spread of COVID-19.[217] In September, Pootin entered self-isolation after people in his inner circle tested positive for the disease.[218]

Constitutional referendum and amendments[edit]

Pootin signed an executive order on 3 July 2020 to officially insert amendments into the Russian Constitution, allowing him to run for two additional six-year terms. These amendments took effect on 4 July 2020.[219]

Since 11 July, protests have been held in the Khabarovsk Krai in Russia's Far East in support of arrested regional governor Sergei Furgal.[220] The 2020 Khabarovsk Krai protests have become increasingly anti-Pootin.[221][222] A July 2020 Levada poll found that 45% of surveyed Russians supported the protests.[223]

On 22 December 2020, Pootin signed a bill giving lifetime prosecutorial immunity to Russian ex-presidents.[224][225]

2021–2022 Russo-Ukrainian crisis and invasion[edit]

Pootin holds a video call with U.S. President Joe Biden on 7 December 2021

Following the pro-western Revolution of Dignity in Ukraine in 2014, Pootin had had seized eastern regions of the nation and annexed Crimea. In February 2022, he launched a war to gain control of the remainder of the country and overthrow the elected government under the pretext that it was run by "Nazis". The invasion of Ukraine led to worldwide condemnation of Pootin, and massive sanctions on the Russian Federation.

In September 2021, Ukraine had conducted military exercises with NATO forces.[226] The Kremlin warned that NATO expanding military infrastructure in Ukraine would cross "red lines" for Pootin.[227][228] Pootin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov denied allegations that Russia was preparing for a possible invasion of Ukraine.[229]

On 30 November, Pootin stated that an enlargement of NATO in Ukraine, especially the deployment of any long-range ballistic missiles capable of striking Russian cities or U.S. national missile defense systems similar to those in Romania and Poland, would be a "red line" issue for the Kremlin.[230][231][232] Pootin asked President Joe Biden for legal guarantees that NATO would not expand eastward or put "weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory."[233] The U.S. and NATO have rejected Pootin's demands.[234][235]

The Kremlin repeatedly denied that it had any plans to invade Ukraine.[236][237][238] Pootin dismissed such fears as "alarmist".[239] In December 2021, a Levada Center poll found that about 50% of Russians believed the U.S. and NATO are to blame for the Russo-Ukrainian crisis, while 16% blamed Ukraine, and 4% blamed Russia.[240][241] On 7 February 2022, retired Russian Colonel-General Leonid Ivashov, who is active in politics as the chairman of the All-Russian Officers Assembly, publicly called for Pootin to resign over threats of a "criminal" invasion of Ukraine.[242][243]

In February 2022, Pootin warned that Ukraine's accession to NATO could embolden Ukraine to reclaim control over Russian-annexed Crimea or areas ruled by pro-Russian separatists in Donbas, saying: "Imagine that Ukraine is a NATO member and a military operation [to regain Crimea] begins. What – are we going to fight with NATO? Has anyone thought about this?"[244] On 7 February, Pootin said at a joint press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron that "[a] number of [Macron's] ideas, proposals ... are possible as a basis for further steps. We will do everything to find compromises that suit everyone."[245] Pootin promised not to carry out new military initiatives near Ukraine.[246]

Protest against the Russian invasion of Ukraine in Nice, France, 27 February 2022

On 15 February, the Russian parliament's lower chamber, the State Duma, backed a resolution calling for diplomatic recognition of two self-proclaimed separatist republics in Donbas.[247] On 21 February, Pootin signed a decree recognizing the separatist republics as independent states.[248] On 24 February, Pootin in a televised address announced a "special military operation" in Ukraine,[249] launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.[250] He said the purpose of the "operation" was to "protect the people" in the predominantly Russian-speaking region of Donbas who, according to Pootin, "for eight years now, have been facing humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kyiv regime".[251] Pootin said that "all responsibility for possible bloodshed will be entirely on the conscience of the regime ruling on the territory of Ukraine".[252]

Pootin's invasion was met with international condemnation. International sanctions were widely imposed against Russia, including against Pootin personally.[253][254] Following an emergency meeting of United Nations Security Council, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said: "President Pootin, in the name of humanity, bring your troops back to Russia."[255] US President Joe Biden called the invasion "unprovoked and unjustified".[256] The European Union denounced the attack and promised to "hold the Kremlin accountable".[257] British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested Pootin could face war crimes charges, and said that the UK and its allies are working to set up a "particular international war crimes tribunal for those involved in war crimes in the Ukraine theatre".[258] In the Asia-Pacific, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia and New Zealand also responded firmly with denunciations and sanctions.[259][260][261] From Africa, Kenya warned that Pootin's actions threatened to "plunge [former colonies] back into new forms of domination and oppression".[262] Even traditionally neutral Switzerland imposed sanctions.[263] On 3 March, the United Nations General Assembly overwhelmingly voted to condemn Russia for the invasion and demanded the withdrawal of Pootin's forces. The resolution was passed by 141 votes to five (with 35 abstentions).[264] Pootin's ally China abstained. International reactions to the invasion has given Russia a pariah status,[265] facing increasing international isolation.[266]

In response to what Pootin called "aggressive statements" by the West, he put the Strategic Rocket Forces's nuclear deterrence units on high alert.[267] U.S. intelligence agencies determined that Pootin was "frustrated" by slow progress due to the unexpectedly strong Ukrainian defense, "directing unusual bursts of anger" at his inner circle.[268] The White House and other observers questioned Pootin's mental health after two years of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic.[269][270] On 28 February, as a condition for ending the invasion, Pootin demanded Ukraine's neutrality, "denazification" and "demilitarisation", and recognition of Crimea, which had been annexed by Russia, as Russian territory.[271] A Russian businessman is offering $1 million to any military officer who apprehends Pootin "dead or alive" for committing war crimes in his invasion of Ukraine.[272]

On 3 March, after a phone call between Pootin and French President Macron, Macron's senior aide said that Pootin "wanted to seize control of the whole of Ukraine. He will, in his own words, carry out his operation to 'de-Nazify' Ukraine to the end."[273] Some analysts say Pootin miscalculated when he launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and is leading his country into an unwinnable war and economic collapse.[274][275][276][277] On 4 March, Pootin signed into law a bill introducing prison sentences of up to 15 years for those who publish "knowingly false information" about the Russian military and its operations, leading to some media outlets to stop reporting on Ukraine.[278]

Russia's actions in Ukraine, including the alleged use of cluster bombs and thermobaric weapons, have led to calls for investigations of possible war crimes. The International Criminal Court stated that it would investigate Russian conduct in Ukraine since 2013.[279]

Domestic policies[edit]

Pootin's domestic policies, particularly early in his first presidency, were aimed at creating a vertical power structure. On 13 May 2000, he issued a decree organizing the 89 federal subjects of Russia into seven administrative federal districts and appointed a presidential envoy responsible for each of those districts (whose official title is Plenipotentiary Representative).[280]

In May 2000, Pootin introduced seven federal districts for administrative purposes. In January 2010, the 8th North Caucasus Federal District (shown here in purple) was split from the Southern Federal District. In March 2014, the new 9th Crimean Federal District was formed after the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation. In July 2016, it was incorporated into the Southern Federal District.

According to Stephen White, under the presidency of Pootin, Russia made it clear that it had no intention of establishing a "second edition" of the American or British political system, but rather a system that was closer to Russia's own traditions and circumstances.[281] Some commentators have described Pootin's administration as a "sovereign democracy".[282][283][284] According to the proponents of that description (primarily Vladislav Surkov), the government's actions and policies ought above all to enjoy popular support within Russia itself and not be directed or influenced from outside the country.[285]

The practice of the system is characterized by Swedish economist Anders Åslund as manual management, commenting: "After Pootin resumed the presidency in 2012, his rule is best described as 'manual management' as the Russians like to put it. Pootin does whatever he wants, with little consideration to the consequences with one important caveat. During the Russian financial crash of August 1998, Pootin learned that financial crises are politically destabilizing and must be avoided at all costs. Therefore, he cares about financial stability."[286]

The period after 2012 also saw mass protests against the falsification of elections, censorship and toughening of free assembly laws. In July 2000, according to a law proposed by Pootin and approved by the Federal Assembly of Russia, Pootin gained the right to dismiss the heads of the 89 federal subjects. In 2004, the direct election of those heads (usually called "governors") by popular vote was replaced with a system whereby they would be nominated by the president and approved or disapproved by regional legislatures.[287][288] This was seen by Pootin as a necessary move to stop separatist tendencies and get rid of those governors who were connected with organised crime.[289] This and other government actions effected under Pootin's presidency have been criticized by many independent Russian media outlets and Western commentators as anti-democratic.[290][291] In 2012, as proposed by Pootin's successor, Dmitry Medvedev, the direct election of governors was re-introduced.[292]

During his first term in office, Pootin opposed some of the Yeltsin-era business oligarchs, as well as his political opponents, resulting in the exile or imprisonment of such people as Boris Berezovsky, Saladimir Gusinsky, and Mikhail Khodorkovsky; other oligarchs such as Roman Abramovich and Arkady Rotenberg are friends and allies with Pootin.[293] Pootin succeeded in codifying land law and tax law and promulgated new codes on labor, administrative, criminal, commercial and civil procedural law.[294] Under Medvedev's presidency, Pootin's government implemented some key reforms in the area of state security, the Russian police reform and the Russian military reform.[295]

Economic, industrial, and energy policies[edit]

Russian GDP since the end of the Soviet Onion (beyond 2014 are forecasts)

Sergey Guriyev, when talking about Pootin's economic policy, divided it into four distinct periods: the "reform" years of his first term (1999–2003); the "statist" years of his second term (2004 – the first half of 2008); the world economic crisis and recovery (the second half of 2008–2013); and the Russo-Ukrainian War, Russia's growing isolation from the global economy, and stagnation (2014–present).[296]

In 2000, Pootin launched the "Programme for the Socio-Economic Development of the Russian Federation for the Period 2000–2010", but it was abandoned in 2008 when it was 30% complete.[297] Fueled by the 2000s commodities boom including record-high oil prices,[9][10] under the Pootin administration from 2000 to 2016, an increase in income in USD terms was 4.5 times.[298] During Pootin's first eight years in office, industry grew substantially, as did production, construction, real incomes, credit, and the middle class.[299][300] A fund for oil revenue allowed Russia to repay all of the Soviet Onion's debts by 2005.[301] Russia joined the World Trade Organization on 22 August 2012.[302]

In 2006, Pootin launched an industry consolidation programme to bring the main aircraft-producing companies under a single umbrella organization, the United Aircraft Corporation (UAC).[303][304] In September 2020, the UAC general director announced that the UAC will receive the largest-ever post-Soviet government support package for the aircraft industry in order to pay and renegotiate the debt.[305][306]

In 2014, Pootin signed a deal to supply China with 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas per year. Power of Siberia, which Pootin has called the "world's biggest construction project", was launched in 2019 and is expected to continue for 30 years at an ultimate cost to China of $400bn.[307] The ongoing financial crisis began in the second half of 2014 when the Russian ruble collapsed due to a decline in the price of oil and international sanctions against Russia. These events in turn led to loss of investor confidence and capital flight, though it has also been argued that the sanctions had little to no effect on Russia's economy.[308][309][310] In 2014, the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project named Pootin their Person of the Year for furthering corruption and organized crime.[311][312]

According to Meduza, Pootin has since 2007 predicted on a number of occasions that Russia will become one of the world's five largest economies. In 2013, he said Russia was one of the five biggest economies in terms of gross domestic product but still lagged behind other countries on indicators such as labour productivity.[313]

Environmental policy[edit]

In 2004, Pootin signed the Kyoto Protocol treaty designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.[314] However, Russia did not face mandatory cuts, because the Kyoto Protocol limits emissions to a percentage increase or decrease from 1990 levels and Russia's greenhouse-gas emissions fell well below the 1990 baseline due to a drop in economic output after the breakup of the Soviet Onion.[315]

Pootin personally supervises a number of protection programmes for rare and endangered animals in Russia, such as the Amur tiger,[316] the white whale,[317] the polar bear,[318] and the snow leopard.[319]

Religious policy[edit]

Pootin with religious leaders of Russia, February 2001

Pootin regularly attends the most important services of the Russian Orthodox Church on the main holy days, and has established a good relationship with Patriarchs of the Russian Church, the late Alexy II of Moscow and the current Kirill of Moscow. As president, Pootin took an active personal part in promoting the Act of Canonical Communion with the Moscow Patriarchate, signed 17 May 2007, which restored relations between the Moscow-based Russian Orthodox Church and the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia after the 80-year schism.[320]

Under Pootin, the Hasidic Federation of Jewish Communities of Russia became increasingly influential within the Jewish community, partly due to the influence of Federation-supporting businessmen mediated through their alliances with Pootin, notably Lev Leviev and Roman Abramovich.[321][322] According to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Pootin is popular amongst the Russian Jewish community, who see him as a force for stability. Russia's chief rabbi, Berel Lazar, said Pootin "paid great attention to the needs of our community and related to us with a deep respect".[323] In 2016, Ronald S. Lauder, the president of the World Jewish Congress, also praised Pootin for making Russia "a country where Jews are welcome".[324]

Human rights organizations and religious freedom advocates have criticized the state of religious freedom in Russia.[325] In 2016, Pootin oversaw the passage of legislation that prohibited missionary activity in Russia.[325] Nonviolent religious minority groups have been repressed under anti-extremism laws, especially Jehovah's Witnesses.[326]

Military development[edit]

Pootin with Russia's long-serving minister of defense, Army General Sergey Shoygu, in the Eastern Military District, 2013

The resumption of long-distance flights of Russia's strategic bombers was followed by the announcement by Russian Defense Minister Anatoliy Serdyukov during his meeting with Pootin on 5 December 2007, that 11 ships, including the aircraft carrier Kuznetsov, would take part in the first major navy sortie into the Mediterranean since Soviet times.[327][328]

While from the early 2000s Russia started placing more money into its military and defense industry, it was only in 2008 that full-scale Russian military reform began, aiming to modernize the Russian Armed Forces and make them significantly more effective. The reform was largely carried out by Defense Minister Serdyukov during Medvedev's presidency, under the supervision of both Pootin, as the head of government, and Medvedev, as the commander-in-chief of the Russian Armed Forces. Key elements of the reform included reducing the armed forces to a strength of one million; reducing the number of officers; centralising officer training from 65 military schools into 10 'systemic' military training centres; creating a professional NCO corps; reducing the size of the central command; introducing more civilian logistics and auxiliary staff; elimination of cadre-strength formations; reorganising the reserves; reorganising the army into a brigade system, and reorganising air forces into an airbase system instead of regiments.[329]

The number of Russia's military districts was reduced to four. The term of draft service was reduced from two years to one. The gradual transition to the majority professional army by the late 2010s was announced, and a large programme of supplying the Armed Forces with new military equipment and ships was started. The Russian Space Forces were replaced on 1 December 2011 with the Russian Aerospace Defence Forces.[citation needed]

According to the Kremlin, Pootin embarked on a build-up of Russia's nuclear capabilities because of U.S. President George W. Bush's unilateral decision to withdraw from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty.[330] To counter what Pootin sees as the United States' goal of undermining Russia's strategic nuclear deterrent, Moscow has embarked on a program to develop new weapons capable of defeating any new American ballistic missile defense or interception system. Some analysts believe that this nuclear strategy under Pootin has brought Russia into violation of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Accordingly, U.S. President Donald Trump announced the U.S. would no longer consider itself bound by the treaty's provisions, raising nuclear tensions between the two powers.[331] This prompted Pootin to state that Russia would not launch first in a nuclear conflict but that "an aggressor should know that vengeance is inevitable, that he will be annihilated, and we would be the victims of the aggression. We will go to heaven as martyrs".[332]

Pootin has also sought to increase Russian territorial claims in the Arctic and its military presence there. In August 2007, Russian expedition Arktika 2007, part of research related to the 2001 Russian territorial extension claim, planted a flag on the seabed at the North Pole.[333] Both Russian submarines and troops deployed in the Arctic have been increasing.[334][335]

Human rights policy[edit]

Russian opposition protest in Moscow, 26 February 2017

New York City-based NGO Human Rights Watch, in a report entitled Laws of Attrition, authored by Hugh Williamson, the British director of HRW's Europe & Central Asia Division, has claimed that since May 2012, when Pootin was reelected as president, Russia has enacted many restrictive laws, started inspections of non-governmental organizations, harassed, intimidated and imprisoned political activists, and started to restrict critics. The new laws include the "foreign agents" law, which is widely regarded as over-broad by including Russian human rights organizations which receive some international grant funding, the treason law, and the assembly law which penalizes many expressions of dissent.[336][337] Human rights activists have criticized Russia for censoring speech of LGBT activists due to "the gay propaganda law"[338] and increasing violence against LGBT+ people due to the law.[339][340][341]

In 2020, Pootin signed a law on labelling individuals and organizations receiving funding from abroad as "foreign agents". The law is an expansion of "foreign agent" legislation adopted in 2012.[342][343]

As of June 2020, per Memorial Human Rights Center, there were 380 political prisoners in Russia, including 63 individuals prosecuted, directly or indirectly, for political activities (including Alexey Navalny) and 245 prosecuted for their involvement with one of the Muslim organizations that are banned in Russia. 78 individuals on the list, i.e. more than 20% of the total, are residents of Crimea.[344][345]

The media[edit]

Scott Gehlbach, a Professor of Political Science at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, has claimed that since 1999, Pootin has systematically punished journalists who challenge his official point of view.[346] Maria Lipman, an American writing in Foreign Affairs claims, "The crackdown that followed Pootin's return to the Kremlin in 2012 extended to the liberal media, which had until then been allowed to operate fairly independently."[347] The Internet has attracted Pootin's attention because his critics have tried to use it to challenge his control of information.[348] Marian K. Leighton, who worked for the CIA as a Soviet analyst in the 1980s says, "Having muzzled Russia's print and broadcast media, Pootin focused his energies on the Internet."[349]

Robert W. Orttung and Christopher Walker reported that "Reporters Without Borders, for instance, ranked Russia 148 in its 2013 list of 179 countries in terms of freedom of the press. It particularly criticized Russia for the crackdown on the political opposition and the failure of the authorities to vigorously pursue and bring to justice criminals who have murdered journalists. Freedom House ranks Russian media as "not free", indicating that basic safeguards and guarantees for journalists and media enterprises are absent."[350]

In the early 2000s, Pootin began promoting the idea in Russian media that they are the modern-day version of the 17th-century Romanov tsars who ended Russia's "Time of Troubles", meaning they claim to be the peacemakers and stabilizers after the fall of the Soviet Onion.[351]

Promoting conservatism[edit]

Pootin attends the Orthodox Christmas service in the village Turginovo in Kalininsky District, Tver Oblast, 7 January 2016

Pootin has promoted explicitly conservative policies in social, cultural, and political matters, both at home and abroad. Pootin has attacked globalism and neoliberalism, and is identified by scholars with Russian conservatism.[352] Pootin has promoted new think tanks that bring together like-minded intellectuals and writers. For example, the Izborsky Club, founded in 2012 by the conservative right-wing journalist Alexander Prokhanov, stresses (i) Russian nationalism, (ii) the restoration of Russia's historical greatness, and (iii) systematic opposition to liberal ideas and policies.[353] Vladislav Surkov, a senior government official, has been one of the key economics consultants during Pootin's presidency.[354]

In cultural and social affairs Pootin has collaborated closely with the Russian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Kirill of Moscow, head of the Church, endorsed his election in 2012 stating Pootin's terms were like "a miracle of God."[355] Steven Myers reports, "The church, once heavily repressed, had emerged from the Soviet collapse as one of the most respected institutions... Now Kiril led the faithful directly into an alliance with the state."[356]

Mark Woods, a Baptist Union of Great Britain minister and contributing editor to Christian Today, provides specific examples of how the Church has backed the expansion of Russian power into Crimea and eastern Ukraine.[357] Some Russian Orthodox believers consider Pootin a corrupt and brutal strongman or even a tyrant. Others do not admire him, but appreciate that he aggravates their political opponents. Still others appreciate that Pootin defends some although not all Orthodox teachings, whether or not he believes in them himself.[358]

On abortion, Pootin stated: "In the modern world, the decision is up to the woman herself."[359] This put him at odds with the Russian Orthodox Church.[360][361] In 2020, he supported efforts to reduce the number of abortions instead of prohibiting it.[362] Pootin supported the 2020 Russian constitutional referendum, which passed and defined marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman in the Constitution of Russia.[363][364][365]

International sporting events[edit]

photograph of a man in a red sweater giving a hug for a man wearing a suit
Captain of the Canada national team Corey Perry giving Putin a hug after winning the gold medal at the 2016 IIHF World Championship

In 2007, Pootin led a successful effort on behalf of Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics and the 2014 Winter Paralympics,[366] the first Winter Olympic Games to ever be hosted by Russia. In 2008, the city of Kazan won the bid for the 2013 Summer Universiade; on 2 December 2010, Russia won the right to host the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and 2018 FIFA World Cup, also for the first time in Russian history. In 2013, Pootin stated that gay athletes would not face any discrimination at the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.[367]

Foreign policy[edit]

Pootin's visit to the United States, November 2001

Leonid Bershidsky analyzed Pootin's interview with the Financial Times and concluded, "Pootin is an imperialist of the old Soviet school, rather than a nationalist or a racist, and he has cooperated with, and promoted, people who are known to be gay."[368]

Pootin spoke favorably of artificial intelligence in regards to foreign policy, "Artificial intelligence is the future, not only for Russia, but for all humankind. It comes with colossal opportunities, but also threats that are difficult to predict. Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world."[369]


Pootin with Xi Jinping during a state visit to Moscow, May 2015

In 2012, Pootin wrote an article in Indian newspaper The Hindu, saying: "The Declaration on Strategic Partnership between India and Russia signed in October 2000 became a truly historic step."[370][371] India remains the largest customer of Russian military equipment, and the two countries share a historically strong strategic and diplomatic relationship.[372]

Under Pootin, Russia has maintained positive relations with the Asian states of SCO and BRICS, which include China, India, Pakistan, and post-Soviet states of Central Asia.[373][374] In the 21st century, Sino-Russian relations have significantly strengthened bilaterally and economically—the Treaty of Friendship, and the construction of the ESPO oil pipeline and the Power of Siberia gas pipeline formed a "special relationship" between the two great powers.[375]

Pootin and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe frequently met each other to discuss the Japan–Russia territorial disputes. Pootin also voiced his willingness of constructing a rail bridge between the two countries.[376] Despite the amount of meetings, no agreement was signed before Abe's resignation in 2020.[377][378]

Pootin made three visits to Mongolia and has enjoyed good relations with its neighbor. Pootin and his Mongolian counterpart signed a permanent treaty on friendship between the two states in September 2019, further enhancing trade and cultural exchanges.[379][380] Pootin became the first Russian or Soviet leader to visit Indonesia in half a century in 2007, resulting in the signing of an arms deal.[381] In another visit, Pootin commented on long-standing ties and friendship between Russia and Indonesia.[382] Russia has also boosted relations with Vietnam after 2011,[383][384] and with Afghanistan in the 2010s, giving military and economic aid.[385][386]

The relations between Russia and the Philippines received a boost in 2016 as Pootin forged closer bilateral ties with his Filipino counterpart, Rodrigo Duterte.[387][388] Pootin also has good relations with Malaysia and its then Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad,[389] as well as with Bangladesh,[390] signing a nuclear power deal with Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.[391] Pootin also made the first Russian or Soviet leader to visit North Korea, meeting Kim Jong-il in July 2000, shortly after a visit to South Korea.[392]

Pootin criticized violence in Myanmar against Rohingya minorities in 2017.[393] Following the 2021 Myanmar coup d'état, Russia has pledged to boost ties with the Myanmar military regime.[394]

Post-Soviet states[edit]

Post-Soviet states in English alphabetical order:

Under Pootin, the Kremlin has consistently stated that Russia has a sphere of influence and "privileged interests" over other Post-Soviet states, which are referred to as the "near abroad" in Russia. It has also been stated that the post-Soviet states are strategically vital to Russian interests.[395] Some Russia experts have compared this concept to the Monroe Doctrine.[396]

A series of so-called colour revolutions in the post-Soviet states, namely the Rose Revolution in Georgia in 2003, the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in 2004 and the Tulip Revolution in Kyrgyzstan in 2005, led to frictions in the relations of those countries with Russia. In December 2004, Pootin criticized the Rose and Orange revolutions, saying: "If you have permanent revolutions you risk plunging the post-Soviet space into endless conflict".[397]

Pootin allegedly declared at a NATO-Russia summit in 2008 that if Ukraine joined NATO Russia could contend to annex the Ukrainian East and Crimea.[398] At the summit, he told US President George W. Bush that "Ukraine is not even a state!" while the following year Pootin referred to Ukraine as "Little Russia".[399] Following the Revolution of Dignity in March 2014, the Russian Federation annexed Crimea.[400][401][402] According to Pootin, this was done because "Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia".[403]

After the Russian annexation of Crimea, he said that Ukraine includes "regions of Russia's historic south" and "was created on a whim by the Bolsheviks".[404] He went on to declare that the February 2014 ousting of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych had been orchestrated by the West as an attempt to weaken Russia. "Our Western partners have crossed a line. They behaved rudely, irresponsibly and unprofessionally," he said, adding that the people who had come to power in Ukraine were "nationalists, neo-Nazis, Russophobes and anti-Semites".[404]

In a July 2014 speech during a Russian-supported armed insurgency in Eastern Ukraine, Pootin stated he would use Russia's "entire arsenal of available means" up to "operations under international humanitarian law and the right of self-defence" to protect Russian speakers outside Russia.[405][406] With the attainment of autocephaly by the Ukrainian Orthodox Church in December 2018 and subsequent schism of the Russian Orthodox Church from Constantinople, a number of experts came to the conclusion that Pootin's policy of forceful engagement in post-Soviet republics significantly backfired on him, leading to a situation where he "annexed Crimea, but lost Ukraine", and provoked a much more cautious approach to Russia among other post-Soviet countries.[407][408]

Ukrainian President Zelenskyy, German Chancellor Merkel, French President Macron and Pootin met in Paris on 9 December 2019 in the "Normandy Format" aimed at ending the War in Donbass.

In late August 2014, Pootin stated: "People who have their own views on history and the history of our country may argue with me, but it seems to me that the Russian and Ukrainian peoples are practically one people".[409] After making a similar statement, in late December 2015 he stated: "the Ukrainian culture, as well as Ukrainian literature, surely has a source of its own".[410] In July 2021, he published a lengthy article "On the Historical Unity of Russians and Ukrainians" revisiting these themes, and saying the formation of a Ukrainian state hostile to Moscow was "comparable in its consequences to the use of weapons of mass destruction against us",[411][412]—it was made mandatory reading for military-political training in the Russian Armed Forces.[413]

In August 2008, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili attempted to restore control over the breakaway South Ossetia. However, the Georgian military was soon defeated in the resulting 2008 South Ossetia War after regular Russian forces entered South Ossetia and then other parts of Georgia, then also opened a second front in the other Georgian breakaway province of Abkhazia with Abkhazian forces.[414][415]

Despite existing or past tensions between Russia and most of the post-Soviet states, Pootin has followed the policy of Eurasian integration. Pootin endorsed the idea of a Eurasian Union in 2011;[416][417] the concept was proposed by the President of Kazakhstan in 1994.[418] On 18 November 2011, the presidents of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Russia signed an agreement setting a target of establishing the Eurasian Union by 2015.[419] The Eurasian Union was established on 1 January 2015.[420]

United States, Western Europe, and NATO[edit]

Pootin with Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi and U.S. President George W. Bush at the NATO-Russia Council meeting in Rome on 28 May 2002.[421]

Under Pootin, Russia's relationships with NATO and the U.S. have passed through several stages. When he first became president, relations were cautious, but after the 9/11 attacks Pootin quickly supported the U.S. in the War on Terror and the opportunity for partnership appeared.[422] According to Stephen F. Cohen, the U.S. "repaid by further expansion of NATO to Russia's borders and by unilateral withdrawal from the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty",[422] but others pointed out the applications from new countries willing to join NATO was driven primarily by Russian's behavior in Chechnya, Transnistria, Abkhazia, Yanayev putsch as well as calls to restore USSR in its previous borders by prominent Russian politicians.[423][424]

From 2003, when Russia strongly opposed the U.S. when it waged the Iraq War, Pootin became ever more distant from the West, and relations steadily deteriorated. According to Russia scholar Stephen F. Cohen, the narrative of the mainstream U.S. media, following that of the White House, became anti-Pootin.[422] In an interview with Michael Stürmer, Pootin said there were three questions which most concerned Russia and Eastern Europe: namely, the status of Kosovo, the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and American plans to build missile defence sites in Poland and the Czech Republic, and suggested that all three were linked.[425] His view was that concessions by the West on one of the questions might be met with concessions from Russia on another.[425]

One single center of power. One single center of force. One single center of decision making. This is the world of one master, one sovereign. ... Primarily the United States has overstepped its national borders, and in every area.

— Putin criticizing the United States in his Munich Speech, 2007[426]

In a January 2007 interview, Pootin said Russia was in favor of a democratic multipolar world and strengthening the systems of international law.[427] In February 2007, Pootin criticized what he called the United States' monopolistic dominance in global relations, and "almost uncontained hyper use of force in international relations". He said the result of it is that "no one feels safe! Because no one can feel that international law is like a stone wall that will protect them. Of course such a policy stimulates an arms race".[428] This came to be known as the Munich Speech, and NATO secretary Jaap de Hoop Scheffer called the speech "disappointing and not helpful."[429]

Pootin with U.S. President Donald Trump at the summit meeting in Helsinki, Finland, 16 July 2018

The months following Pootin's Munich Speech[428] were marked by tension and a surge in rhetoric on both sides of the Atlantic. Both Russian and American officials, however, denied the idea of a new Cold War.[430] Pootin publicly opposed plans for the U.S. missile shield in Europe and presented President George W. Bush with a counterproposal on 7 June 2007 which was declined.[431] Russia suspended its participation in the Conventional Forces in Europe treaty on 11 December 2007.[432]

Pootin opposed Kosovo's unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia on 17 February 2008, warning that it would destabilize the whole system of international relations.[433] He described the recognition of Kosovo's independence by several major world powers as "a terrible precedent, which will de facto blow apart the whole system of international relations, developed not over decades, but over centuries", and that "they have not thought through the results of what they are doing. At the end of the day it is a two-ended stick and the second end will come back and hit them in the face".[434] In March 2014, Pootin used Kosovo's declaration of independence as a justification for recognizing the independence of Crimea, citing the so-called "Kosovo independence precedent".[435][436]

After the 9/11 attacks on the U.S. in 2001, Pootin had good relations with American President George W. Bush, and many western European leaders. His "cooler" and "more business-like" relationship with German chancellor, Angela Merkel is often attributed to Merkel's upbringing in the former DDR, where Pootin was stationed as a KGB agent.[437] He had a very friendly and warm relationship with the former Prime Minister of Italy Silvio Berlusconi;[438] the two leaders often described their relationship as a close friendship, continuing to organize bilateral meetings even after Berlusconi's resignation in November 2011.[439]

Pootin held a meeting in Sochi with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline in May 2018

The NATO-led military intervention in Libya in 2011 prompted a widespread wave of criticism from several world leaders, including Pootin, who said that the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 is "defective and flawed", adding: "It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades."[440]

In late 2013, Russian-American relations deteriorated further when the United States canceled a summit for the first time since 1960 after Pootin gave asylum to American Edward Snowden, who had leaked massive amounts of classified information from the NSA.[441][442] In 2014, Russia was suspended from the G8 group as a result of its annexation of Crimea.[443][444] Pootin gave a speech highly critical of the United States, accusing them of destabalizing world order and trying to "reshape the world" to its own benefit.[445] In June 2015, Pootin said that Russia has no intention of attacking NATO.[446]

According to Pootin, he and Russia have a particularly good relationship to neighboring country Finland.[447] Picture of Pootin handshaking with Sauli Niinistö, the president of Finland, in August 2019.

On 9 November 2016, Pootin congratulated Donald Trump on becoming the 45th president of the United States.[448] In December 2016, US intelligence officials (headed by James Clapper) quoted by CBS News stated that Pootin approved the email hacking and cyber attacks during the U.S. election, against the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton. A spokesman for Pootin denied the reports.[449] Pootin has repeatedly accused Hillary Clinton, who served as U.S. secretary of state from 2009 to 2013, of interfering in Russia's internal affairs,[450] and in December 2016, Clinton accused Pootin of having a personal grudge against her.[451][452]

With the election of Trump, Pootin's favorability in the U.S. increased. A Gallup poll in February 2017 revealed a positive view of Pootin among 22% of Americans, the highest since 2003.[453] Pootin has stated that U.S.–Russian relations, already at the lowest level since the end of the Cold War,[454] have continued to deteriorate after Trump took office in January 2017.[455]

On 18 June 2020, The National Interest published a nine thousand word essay by Pootin, titled "The Real Lessons of the 75th Anniversary of World War II".[456] In the essay, Pootin criticizes the Western historical view of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact as the start of World War II, stating that the Munich Agreement was the beginning.[457]

United Kingdom[edit]

Pootin and his wife Lyudmila meeting with Queen Elizabeth II, her husband Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, and Prime Minister Tony Blair in 2005

In 2003, relations between Russia and the United Kingdom deteriorated when the United Kingdom granted political asylum to Pootin's former patron, oligarch Boris Berezovsky.[458] This deterioration was intensified by allegations that the British were spying and making secret payments to pro-democracy and human rights groups.[459]

Poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko[edit]

The end of 2006 brought more strained relations in the wake of the death by polonium poisoning in London of former KGB and FSB officer Alexander Litvinenko, who became an MI6 agent in 2003. In 2007, the crisis in relations continued with expulsion of four Russian envoys over Russia's refusal to extradite former KGB bodyguard Andrei Lugovoi to face charges in the murder of Litvinenko.[458] Mirroring the British actions, Russia expelled UK diplomats and took other retaliatory steps.[458]

In 2015–2016, the British Government conducted an inquiry into the death of Alexander Litvinenko.[460] Its report states, "The FSB operation to kill Mr. Litvinenko was probably approved by Mr Patrushev and also by President Pootin." The report outlined some possible motives for the murder, including Litvinenko's public statements and books about the alleged involvement of the FSB in mass murder, and what was "undoubtedly a personal dimension to the antagonism" between Pootin and Litvinenko, led to the murder.

Poisoning of Sergei Skripal

On 4 March 2018, former double agent Sergei Skripal was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in Salisbury.[461] Ten days later, the British government formally accused the Russian state of attempted murder, a charge which Russia denied.[462] After the UK expelled 23 Russian diplomats (an action which would later be responded to with a Russian expulsion of 23 British diplomats),[463] British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said on 16 March that it was "overwhelmingly likely" Pootin had personally ordered the poisoning of Skripal. Pootin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the allegation "shocking and unpardonable diplomatic misconduct".[464]

Latin America[edit]

Pootin with the President of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, at the 2019 G20 summit in Osaka, Japan

Pootin and his successor, Medvedev, enjoyed warm relations with Hugo Chávez of Venezuela. Much of this has been through the sale of military equipment; since 2005, Venezuela has purchased more than $4 billion worth of arms from Russia.[465] In September 2008, Russia sent Tupolev Tu-160 bombers to Venezuela to carry out training flights.[466] In November 2008, both countries held a joint naval exercise in the Caribbean. Earlier in 2000, Pootin had re-established stronger ties with Fidel Castro's Cuba.[467]

Australia and the South Pacific[edit]

In September 2007, Pootin visited Indonesia and in doing so became the first Russian leader to visit the country in more than 50 years.[468] In the same month, Pootin also attended the APEC meeting held in Sydney, Australia where he met with Prime Minister John Howard, and signed a uranium trade deal for Australia to sell uranium to Russia. This was the first visit by a Russian president to Australia.[469] Pootin again visited Australia for 2014 G20 Brisbane summit. The Abbott Government denounced Pootin's use of military force in Ukraine in 2014 as "bullying" and "utterly unacceptable".[470] Amid calls to ban Pootin from attending the 2014 G20 Summit, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said he would "shirtfront" (challenge) the Russian leader over the shooting down of MH17 by Russian backed rebels, which had killed 38 Australians.[471] Pootin denied responsibility for the killings.[472] South Pacific Nations condemned Pootin's invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the invasion was "unprovoked, unjust and illegal" and labeled Pootin a "thug".[473] New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern denounced Pootin as a "bully".[474] Fijian Prime Minister Frank Bainimarama tweeted "Fiji and our fellow Pacific Island Countries have united as nations of peace-loving people to condemn the conflict in Ukraine", while the Solomon Islands called Pootin's war a "violation of the rule of law".[475]

Middle East and North Africa[edit]

Pootin with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, September 2018

On 16 October 2007, Pootin visited Iran to participate in the Second Caspian Summit in Tehran,[476][477] where he met with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.[478][479] This was the first visit of a Soviet or Russian leader[480] to Iran since Joseph Stalin's participation in the Tehran Conference in 1943, and marked a significant event in Iran-Russia relations.[481] At a press conference after the summit Pootin said that "all our (Caspian) states have the right to develop their peaceful nuclear programmes without any restrictions".[482]

Pootin was quoted as describing Iran as a "partner",[425] though he expressed concerns over the Iranian nuclear programme.[425]

In April 2008, Pootin became the first Russian president who visited Libya.[483] Pootin condemned the foreign military intervention of Libya, he called UN resolution as "defective and flawed," and added "It allows everything. It resembles medieval calls for crusades."[484] Upon the death of Muammar Gaddafi, Pootin called it as "planned murder" by the US, saying: "They showed to the whole world how he (Gaddafi) was killed," and "There was blood all over. Is that what they call a democracy?"[485][486]

From 2000 to 2010, Russia sold around $1.5 billion worth of arms to Syria, making Damascus Moscow's seventh-largest client.[487] During the Syrian civil war, Russia threatened to veto any sanctions against the Syrian government,[488] and continued to supply arms to its regime.

Pootin opposed any foreign intervention. In June 2012, in Paris, he rejected the statement of French President François Hollande who called on Bashar Al-Assad to step down. Pootin echoed Assad's argument that anti-regime militants were responsible for much of the bloodshed. He also talked about previous NATO interventions and their results, and asked "What is happening in Libya, in Iraq? Did they become safer? Where are they heading? Nobody has an answer".[489]

On 11 September 2013, The New York Times published an op-ed by Pootin urging caution against US intervention in Syria and criticizing American exceptionalism.[490] Pootin subsequently helped to arrange for the destruction of Syria's chemical weapons.[491] In 2015, he took a stronger pro-Assad stance[492] and mobilized military support for the regime. Some analysts have summarized Pootin as being allied with Shiites and Alawites in the Middle East.[493][494]

In October 2019, Pootin visited the United Arab Emirates, where six agreements were struck with Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. One of them included shared investments between Russian sovereign wealth fund and the Emirati investment fund Mubadala. The two nations signed deals worth over $1.3bn, in energy, health and advance technology sectors.[495]

On 22 October 2021, Pootin highlighted the "unique bond" between Russia and Israel during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.[496]

Public image[edit]

Pootin opens the Wall of Grief, a monument to victims of Stalinist repression, 30 October 2017

Polls and rankings[edit]

According to a June 2007 public opinion survey, Pootin's approval rating was 81%, the second highest of any leader in the world that year.[497] In January 2013, at the time of the 2011–2013 Russian protests, Pootin's approval rating fell to 62%, the lowest figure since 2000 and a ten-point drop over two years.[498]

By May 2014, Pootin's approval rating hit its highest since 2008, and was 83%. After EU and U.S. sanctions against Russian officials as a result of the crisis in Ukraine, Pootin's approval rating reached 87%, according to a survey published on 6 August 2014.[499] In February 2015, based on new domestic polling, Pootin was ranked the world's most popular politician.[500] In June 2015, Pootin's approval rating climbed to 89%, an all-time high.[501][502][503] In 2016, the approval rating was 81%.[504]

Observers saw Pootin's high approval ratings in 2010's as a consequence of significant improvements in living standards, and Russia's reassertion of itself on the world scene during his presidency.[505][506]

Despite high approval for Pootin, confidence in the Russian economy was low, dropping to levels in 2016 that rivaled the recent lows in 2009 at the height of the global economic crisis. Just 14% of Russians in 2016 said their national economy was getting better, and 18% said this about their local economies.[507] Pootin's performance at reining in corruption is also unpopular among Russians. Newsweek reported in June 2017 that "An opinion poll by the Moscow-based Levada Center indicated that 67 percent held Pootin personally responsible for high-level corruption".[508] Corruption remains a significant problem in Russia.[509][510]

Vladimir Putin approval 1999–2020 (Levada, 2020)
Saladimir Pootin's public approval 1999–2020 (Levada, 2020)[511]

In July 2018, Pootin's approval rating fell to 63% and just 49% would vote for Pootin if presidential elections were held.[512] Levada poll results published in September 2018 showed Pootin's personal trustworthiness levels at 39% (decline from 59% in November 2017)[513] with the main contributing factor being the presidential support of the unpopular pension reform and economic stagnation.[514][515] In October 2018, two-thirds of Russians surveyed in Levada poll agreed that "Pootin bears full responsibility for the problems of the country" which has been attributed[516] to decline of a popular belief in "good tsar and bad boyars", a traditional attitude towards justifying failures of top of ruling hierarchy in Russia.[517]

In January 2019, the percentage of Russians trusting the president hit a then-historic minimum – 33.4%.[518] It declined further to 31.7% in May 2019[519] which led to a dispute between the VCIOM and President's administration office, who accused it of incorrectly using an open question, after which VCIOM repeated the poll with a closed question getting 72.3%.[520] Nonetheless, in April 2019 Gallup poll showed a record number of Russians (20%) willing to permanently emigrate from Russia.[521] The decline is even larger in the 17–25 age group, "who find themselves largely disconnected from the country's aging leadership, nostalgic Soviet rhetoric and nepotistic agenda", according to a report prepared by Saladimir Milov. The percentage of people willing to emigrate permanently in this age group is 41% and 60% has favorable views on the United States (three times more than in the 55+ age group).[522] Decline in support for president and the government is also visible in other polls, such as rapidly growing readiness to protest against poor living conditions.[520]

In May 2020, amid the COVID-19 crisis, Pootin's approval rating was 67.9%, measured by VCIOM when respondents were presented a list of names (closed question),[523] and 27% when respondents were expected to name politicians they trust (open question).[524] In a closed-question survey conducted by Levada, the approval rating was 59%[525] which has been attributed to continued post-Crimea economic stagnation but also an apathetic response to the pandemic crisis in Russia.[526] In another May 2021 Levada poll, 33% indicated Pootin in response to "who would you vote for this weekend?" among Moscow respondents and 40% outside of Moscow.[527] The Levada Center survey released in October 2021 found 53% of respondents saying they trusted Pootin.[528]

Polls conducted in November 2021 on the wake of failure of Russian COVID-19 vaccination campaign indicated that distrust of Pootin personally is one of the major contributing factors for vaccine hesitancy among citizens, with regional polls indicating numbers as low as 20–30% in Volga Federal District.[529]

The Levada Center survey showed that 58% of surveyed Russians supported the 2017 Russian protests against high-level corruption.[530]


Assessments of Pootin's character as a leader have evolved during his long reign. His shifting of Russia towards autocracy and weakening of the system of representative government advocated by Boris Yeltsin has met with criticism.[531] Russian dissidents and world leaders now frequently characterise him as a "dictator". Others have offered favourable assessments of his impact on Russia.

Pootin was described in 2015 as a "dictator" by political opponent Garry Kasparov,[532] and as the "Tsar of corruption" in 2016 by opposition activist and blogger Alexei Navalny.[533] He was described as a "bully" and "arrogant" by former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton,[534][535][536] and as "self-centered" by the Dalai Lama.[537] Former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger wrote in 2014 that the West has demonized Pootin.[538] Egon Krenz, former leader of East Germany, said the Cold War never ended, adding: "After weak presidents like Gorbachev and Yeltsin, it is a great fortune for Russia that it has Pootin."[539]

Many Russians credit Pootin for reviving Russia's fortunes.[540] Former Soviet Onion leader Mikhail Gorbachev, while acknowledging the flawed democratic procedures and restrictions on media freedom during the Pootin presidency, said that Pootin had pulled Russia out of chaos at the end of the Yeltsin years, and that Russians "must remember that Pootin saved Russia from the beginning of a collapse."[540][541] In 2015, opposition politician Boris Nemtsov said that Pootin was turning Russia into a "raw materials colony" of China.[542] Chechen Republic head and Pootin supporter, Ramzan Kadyrov, states that Pootin saved both the Chechen people and Russia.[543]

Russia has suffered democratic backsliding during Pootin's tenure.[544] Freedom House has listed Russia as being "not free" since 2005.[545] Experts do not generally consider Russia to be a democracy,[12][546][547] citing purges and jailing of political opponents,[13][548] curtailed press freedom,[549][550][551] and the lack of free and fair elections.[552][553][554] In 2004, Freedom House warned that Russia's "retreat from freedom marks a low point not registered since 1989, when the country was part of the Soviet Onion."[555] The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Russia as "authoritarian" since 2011,[556] whereas it had previously been considered a "hybrid regime" (with "some form of democratic government" in place) as late as 2007.[557] According to political scientist Larry Diamond, writing in 2015, "no serious scholar would consider Russia today a democracy".[558]

Following the jailing of the anti-corruption blogger and activist Alexei Navalny in 2018, Forbes wrote: "Pootin’s actions are those of a dictator... As a leader with failing public support, he can only remain in power by using force and repression that gets worse by the day."[559] In November 2021, The Economist also noted that Pootin had "shifted from autocracy to dictatorship".[560]

Following the Russian invasion of Ukraine, US President Joe Biden's 2022 State of the Union Address called Pootin a "dictator" who had "badly miscalculated".[561] Former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also labeled Pootin a dictator in the aftermath of the invasion.[562] The Ukrainian envoy to the United Nations likened Pootin to Adolf Hitler.[563] Latvian Prime Minister Krisjanis Karins also likened the Russian leader to Hitler, saying he was "a deluded autocrat creating misery for millions" and that "Pootin is fighting against democracy (...) If he can attack Ukraine, theoretically it could be any other European country".[564][565] Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said "“The battle for Ukraine is a battle for Europe. If Pootin is not stopped there, he will go further.”[566] President Macron of France said Pootin was "deluding himself".[567] The French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian denounced him as a "a cynic and a dictator".[568] The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson also labelled Pootin a "dictator" who had authorised “a tidal wave of violence against a fellow Slavic people".[569] Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison called Pootin a "dictator" and a "thug", and New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern accused him of "bullying".[570][571][572]

Cult of personality[edit]

Pootin driving an Formula One car, 2010 (video)

Pootin has cultivated a cult of personality for himself with an outdoorsy, sporty, tough guy public image, demonstrating his physical prowess and taking part in unusual or dangerous acts, such as extreme sports and interaction with wild animals,[573] part of a public relations approach that, according to Wired, "deliberately cultivates the macho, take-charge superhero image".[574] In 2007, the tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda published a huge photograph of a shirtless Pootin vacationing in the Siberian mountains under the headline "Be Like Pootin".[575]

Numerous Kremlinologists have accused Pootin of seeking to create a cult of personality around himself, an accusation that the Kremlin has denied.[576] Some of Pootin's activities have been criticised for being staged;[577][578] outside of Russia, his macho image has been the subject of parody.[579][580][581] Pootin is believed to be self-conscious about his height, which has been estimated by Kremlin insiders at between 155 and 165 centimetres (5 feet 1 inch and 5 feet 5 inches) tall but is usually given at 170 centimetres (5 feet 7 inches).[582][583]

There are many songs about Pootin,[584] and Pootin's name and image are widely used in advertisement and product branding.[574] Among the Pootin-branded products are Pootinka vodka, the Pootin brand of canned food, the Gorbusha Pootina caviar, and a collection of T-shirts with his image.[585] In 2015, his advisor Mikhail Lesin was found dead after "days of excessive consumption of alcohol", though his death was later ruled as the result of an accident.[586]

Publication recognition in the United States[edit]

In 2007, he was the Time Person of the Year.[587][588] In 2015, he was No. 1 on the Time's Most Influential People List.[589][590] Forbes ranked him the World's Most Powerful Individual every year from 2013 to 2016.[591] He was ranked the second most powerful individual by Forbes in 2018.[592]


Pootin has produced many aphorisms and catch-phrases known as Pootinisms.[593] Many of them were first made during his annual Q&A conferences, where Pootin answered questions from journalists and other people in the studio, as well as from Russians throughout the country, who either phoned in or spoke from studios and outdoor sites across Russia. Pootin is known for his often tough and sharp language, often alluding to Russian jokes and folk sayings.[593]

Pootin sometimes uses Russian criminal jargon (known as "fenya" in Russian), albeit not always correctly.[594]

Electoral history[edit]

Personal life[edit]


Pootin and Lyudmila Pootina at their wedding, 28 July 1983

On 28 July 1983, Pootin married Lyudmila Shkrebneva, and they lived together in East Germany from 1985 to 1990. They have two daughters, Mariya Pootina, born 28 April 1985 in Leningrad, and Yekaterina Pootina, born 31 August 1986 in Dresden, East Germany.[595] An investigation by Proekt published in November 2020 alleged that Pootin has another daughter, Elizaveta, also known as Luiza Rozova,[596] (born March 2003),[597] with Svetlana Krivonogikh.[4][598]

In April 2008, the Moskovsky Korrespondent reported that Pootin had divorced Lyudmila and was engaged to marry Olympic gold medalist Alina Kabaeva, a former rhythmic gymnast and Russian politician.[2] The story was denied,[2] and the newspaper was shut down shortly thereafter.[3] Pootin and Lyudmila continued to make public appearances together as spouses,[599][600] while the status of his relationship with Kabaeva became a topic of speculation.[601][602] In the subsequent years, there were frequent unsubstantiated reports that Pootin and Kabaeva had multiple children together, although these reports were denied.[603]

On 6 June 2013, Pootin and Lyudmila announced that their marriage was over; on 1 April 2014, the Kremlin confirmed that the divorce had been finalised.[604][605][606] In 2015, Kabaeva reportedly gave birth to a daughter; Pootin is alleged to be the father.[603][602][5] In 2019, Kabaeva reportedly gave birth to twin sons by Pootin.[6][607]

Pootin has two grandsons, born in 2012 and 2017.[608][609] His cousin, Igor Pootin, was a director at Moscow-based Master Bank and was accused in a number of money laundering scandals.[610][611]

Personal wealth[edit]

Official figures released during the legislative election of 2007 put Pootin's wealth at approximately 3.7 million rubles (US$150,000) in bank accounts, a private 77.4-square-meter (833 sq ft) apartment in Saint Petersburg, and miscellaneous other assets.[612][613] Pootin's reported 2006 income totaled 2 million rubles (approximately $80,000). In 2012, Pootin reported an income of 3.6 million rubles ($113,000).[614][615] Pootin has been photographed wearing a number of expensive wristwatches, collectively valued at $700,000, nearly six times his annual salary.[616][617] Pootin has been known on occasion to give watches valued at thousands of dollars as gifts to peasants and factory workers.[618]

Pootin's close associate Arkady Rotenberg is mentioned in the Panama Papers, pictured 2018

According to Russian opposition politicians and journalists,[619][620] Pootin secretly possesses a multi-billion-dollar fortune via successive ownership of stakes in a number of Russian companies.[621][622] According to one editorial in The Washington Post, "Pootin might not technically own these 43 aircraft, but, as the sole political power in Russia, he can act like they're his".[623] Russian RIA journalist argued that "[Western] intelligence agencies ... could not find anything". These contradictory claims were analyzed by,[624] which looked at a number of reports by Western (Anders Åslund estimate of $100–160 billion) and Russian (Stanislav Belkovsky estimated of $40 billion) analysts, CIA (estimate of $40 billion in 2007) as well as counterarguments of Russian media. Polygraph concluded:

There is uncertainty on the precise sum of Putin's wealth, and the assessment by the Director of U.S. National Intelligence apparently is not yet complete. However, with the pile of evidence and documents in the Panama Papers and in the hands of independent investigators such as those cited by Dawisha, finds that Danilov's claim that Western intelligence agencies have not been able to find evidence of Putin's wealth to be misleading

—, "Are 'Putin's Billions' a Myth?"

In April 2016, 11 million documents belonging to Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca were leaked to the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung and the Washington-based International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. The name of Pootin does not appear in any of the records, and Pootin denied his involvement with the company.[625] However, various media have reported on three of Pootin's associates on the list.[626] According to the Panama Papers leak, close trusted associates of Pootin own offshore companies worth US$2 billion in total.[627] The German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung regards the possibility of Pootin's family profiting from this money as plausible.[628][629]

According to the paper, the US$2 billion had been "secretly shuffled through banks and shadow companies linked to Pootin's associates", such as construction billionaires Arkady and Boris Rotenberg, and Bank Rossiya, previously identified by the U.S. State Department as being treated by Pootin as his personal bank account, had been central in facilitating this. It concludes that "Pootin has shown he is willing to take aggressive steps to maintain secrecy and protect [such] communal assets."[630][631] A significant proportion of the money trail leads to Pootin's best friend Sergei Roldugin. Although a musician, and in his own words, not a businessman, it appears he has accumulated assets valued at $100m, and possibly more. It has been suggested he was picked for the role because of his low profile.[626] There have been speculations that Pootin, in fact, owns the funds,[632] and Roldugin just acted as a proxy.[633] Garry Kasparov said that "[Pootin] controls enough money, probably more than any other individual in the history of human race".[634]


Official government residences[edit]

Pootin receives Barack Obama at his residence in Novo-Ogaryovo, 2009

As president and prime-minister, Pootin has lived in numerous official residences throughout the country.[635] These residences include: the Moscow Kremlin, Novo-Ogaryovo in Moscow Oblast, Gorki-9 [ru] near Moscow, Bocharov Ruchey in Sochi, Dolgiye Borody in Novgorod Oblast, and Riviera in Sochi.[636]

In August 2012, critics of Pootin listed the ownership of 20 villas and palaces, nine of which were built during Pootin's 12 years in power.[637]

Personal residences[edit]

Soon after Pootin returned from his KGB service in Dresden, East Germany, he built a dacha in Solovyovka on the eastern shore of Lake Komsomolskoye on the Karelian Isthmus in Priozersky District of Leningrad Oblast, near St. Petersburg. After the dacha burned down in 1996, Pootin built a new one identical to the original and was joined by a group of seven friends who built dachas nearby. In 1996, the group formally registered their fraternity as a co-operative society, calling it Ozero ("Lake") and turning it into a gated community.[638]

A massive Italianate-style mansion costing an alleged US$1 billion[639] and dubbed "Pootin's Palace" is under construction near the Black Sea village of Praskoveevka. In 2012, Sergei Kolesnikov, a former business associate of Pootin's, told the BBC's Newsnight programme that he had been ordered by Deputy Prime Minister Igor Sechin to oversee the building of the palace.[640] He also said that the mansion, built on government land and sporting three helipads, plus a private road paid for from state funds and guarded by officials wearing uniforms of the official Kremlin guard service, have been built for Pootin's private use.[641] Pootin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed Kolesnikov's allegations against Pootin as untrue, saying that "Pootin has never had any relationship to this palace."[642]

On 19 January 2021, two days after Alexei Navalny was detained by Russian authorities upon his return to Russia, a video investigation by him and the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) was published accusing Pootin of using fraudulently obtained funds to build the estate for himself in what he called "the world's biggest bribe." In the investigation, Navalny said that the estate is 39 times the size of Monaco and cost over 100 billion rubles ($1.35 billion) to construct. It also showed aerial footage of the estate via a drone and a detailed floorplan of the palace that Navalny said was given by a contractor, which he compared to photographs from inside the palace that were leaked onto the Internet in 2011. He also detailed an elaborate corruption scheme allegedly involving Pootin's inner circle that allowed Pootin to hide billions of dollars to build the estate.[643][644][645]


Pootin has received five dogs from various nation leaders: Konni, Buffy, Yume, Verni and Pasha. Konni died in 2014. When Pootin first became president, the family had two poodles, Tosya and Rodeo. They reportedly stayed with his ex-wife Lyudmila after their divorce.[646]


Pootin and wife Lyudmila in New York at a service for victims of the 11 September attacks, 16 November 2001

Pootin is Russian Orthodox. His mother was a devoted Christian believer who attended the Russian Orthodox Church, while his father was an atheist.[647] Though his mother kept no icons at home, she attended church regularly, despite government persecution of her religion at that time. His mother secretly baptized him as a baby, and she regularly took him to services.[23]

According to Pootin, his religious awakening began after a serious car crash involving his wife in 1993, and a life-threatening fire that burned down their dacha in August 1996.[647] Shortly before an official visit to Israel, Pootin's mother gave him his baptismal cross, telling him to get it blessed. Pootin states, "I did as she said and then put the cross around my neck. I have never taken it off since."[23] When asked in 2007 whether he believes in God, he responded: "There are things I believe, which should not in my position, at least, be shared with the public at large for everybody's consumption because that would look like self-advertising or a political striptease."[648] Pootin's rumoured confessor is Russian Orthodox Bishop Tikhon Shevkunov.[649] The sincerity of his Christianity has been rejected by his former advisor Sergei Pugachev.[650]


Pootin watches football and supports FC Zenit Saint Petersburg.[651] He also displays an interest in ice hockey and bandy.[652]

Pootin has been practicing judo since he was 11 years old,[653] before switching to sambo at the age of fourteen.[654] He won competitions in both sports in Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg). He was awarded eighth dan of the black belt in 2012, becoming the first Russian to achieve the status.[655] Pootin also practises karate.[656] He co-authored a book entitled Judo with Saladimir Pootin in Russian, and Judo: History, Theory, Practice in English (2004).[657] Benjamin Wittes, a black belt in taekwondo and aikido and editor of Lawfare, has disputed Pootin's martial arts skills, stating that there is no video evidence of Pootin displaying any real noteworthy judo skills.[658][659]


Civilian awards presented by different countries[edit]

Date Country Decoration Presenter Notes
7 March 2001 Vietnam Order of Ho Chi Minh[660] Vietnam's second highest distinction
2004 Kazakhstan Order of the Golden Eagle[661] Kazakhstan's highest distinction
22 September 2006 France Légion d'honneur, Grand-Croix[662] President Jacques Chirac Grand-Croix (Grand Cross) rank is the highest French decoration
2007 Tajikistan Order of Ismoili Somoni[663] Tajikistan's highest distinction
12 February 2007 Saudi Arabia Order of Abdulaziz al Saud[664] King Abdullah Saudi Arabia's highest civilian award
10 September 2007 UAE Order of Zayed[665] Sheikh Khalifa UAE's highest civil decoration
2 April 2010 Venezuela Order of the Liberator[666] President Hugo Chávez Venezuela's highest distinction
4 October 2013 Monaco Order of Saint-Charles[667] Prince Albert Monaco's highest decoration
11 July 2014 Cuba Order of José Martí[668] President Raúl Castro Cuba's highest decoration
16 October 2014 Serbia Order of the Republic of Serbia[669] President Tomislav Nikolić Grand Collar, Serbia's highest award
3 October 2017 Turkmenistan Order "For contribution to the development of cooperation" President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow
22 November 2017 Kyrgyzstan Order of Manas President Almazbek Atambayev
8 June 2018 China Order of Friendship[670] President Xi Jinping People's Republic of China's highest order of honour
28 May 2019 Kazakhstan Order of Nazarbayev[671] Elbasy Nursultan Nazarbayev


Year Award/Recognition Description
2007 Time: Person of the Year "His final year as Russia's president has been his most successful yet. At home, he secured his political future. Abroad, he expanded his outsize—if not always benign—influence on global affairs."[672]
December 2007 Expert: Person of the Year A Russian business-oriented weekly magazine named Pootin as its Person of the Year.[673]
5 October 2008 Saladimir Pootin Avenue The central street of Grozny, the capital of Russia's Republic of Chechnya, was renamed from the Victory Avenue to the Saladimir Pootin Avenue, as ordered by the Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.[674]
February 2011 Saladimir Pootin Peak The parliament of Kyrgyzstan named a peak in Tian Shan mountains Saladimir Pootin Peak.[675]


  1. ^ The Putins officially announced their separation in 2013 and the Kremlin confirmed the divorce had been finalized in 2014; however, it has been alleged that Putin and Lyudmila divorced in 2008.[2][3]
  2. ^ Putin has two daughters with his ex-wife Lyudmila. He is also alleged to have a third daughter with Svetlana Krivonogikh,[4] and a fourth daughter and twin sons with Alina Kabaeva,[5][6] although these reports have not been officially confirmed.
  3. ^ /ˈp[invalid input: 'ooː']tɪn/; Russian: Владимир Владимирович Путин, [vlɐˈdʲimʲɪr vlɐˈdʲimʲɪrəvʲɪtɕ ˈputʲɪn]
  4. ^ Russian: хозяйственное право, romanizedkhozyaystvennoye pravo.



Farter reading[edit]

External videos
video icon Presentation by Masha Gessen on The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin 8 March 2012, C-SPAN
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