Repression at home intensified after President Vladimir Putin launched the Ukraine offensive


  • Vladimir Putin was appointed acting president on Dec. 31, 1999
  • He served his first and second terms as president consecutively from 1999-2008
  • From 2008 to 2012, he was appointed prime minister by his presidential successor
  • He has been the president of Russia since 2012, serving his third and fourth terms consecutively

Vladimir Putin has been in the public eye as the president of Russia since 2012. The former Russian intelligence officer has arguably held power in Russia ever since he was appointed acting president in 1999 to the present, serving as either its president or prime minister.

Though he has always been in the spotlight, there may still be some facts about the Russian president you might not know about. Here are 30 facts about Vladimir Putin:

1. Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born to Vladimir Spiridonovich Putin and Maria Ivanovna Putina. His parents were both 17 when they married.

2. His paternal grandfather worked as a cook for Stalin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends the 10th National Congress of Judges, in Moscow

During World War I, his skills landed him a job offer in The Hills district on the outskirts of Moscow. He was also appointed to work in one of Joseph Stalin's dachas.

3. He grew up in a communal fifth-floor apartment shared by three families. There was no elevator, no hot water, no bathtub – and plenty of rats.

4. Putin studied law at Leningrad State University (now known as St. Petersburg State University).

Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with members of the Security Council in Moscow Region

5. He served as a foreign intelligence officer for the KGB for 15 years, six of which he spent in Dresden, East Germany.

6. Vladimir Putin's political start was in modern-day St. Petersburg, his hometown.

The carefully choreographed meeting took place at Vladimir Putin's residence

He worked as the advisor on international affairs to mayor Anatoly Sobchak, who was also one of his mentors at law school.

7. He moved to Moscow in 1996, joining the presidential staff as deputy to Kremlin's chief administrator Pavel Borodin.

8. In 1997, he was appointed deputy chief administrator of the Kremlin under President Boris Yeltsin.

Russian President Vladimir Putin and Colonel General Sergei Surovikin, commander of Russian forces in Syria, attend a state awards ceremony for military personnel who served in Syria, at the Kremlin in Moscow

One year later, Yeltsin appointed him as director of the Federal Security Service (FSB) before he became the secretary to the Security Council.

9. On Dec. 31, 1999, Yeltsin surprised everyone with his resignation. He announced Putin as the acting president.

10. Putin was married to former flight attendant Lyudmila Shkrebneva Putina for nearly three decades.

Russian President Vladimir Putin chose to skip this week's G20 meeting in Bali

In a joint interview, the couple announced their divorce was a joint decision. "We almost don't see each other. We have different lives," Putin said in 2013 on Russia 24.

11. Vladimir and Lyudmila have two adult daughters, Maria and Katerina, both named after their grandmothers and kept away from the spotlight as they were growing up.

12. The family moved to Moscow in 1996, where Maria and Katerina attended a German-language school.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is not attending the G20 and his troops are in retreat in Ukraine

When Putin became acting president, his daughters were taken out of school, and teachers educated them at home.

13. Maria and Katerina both attended university using false identities.

Maria studied biology in college and continued to medical school in Moscow. Katerina focused on Asian Studies.

14. Lyudmila said Putin is the more lenient parent while she disciplined their daughters.

'Russia is just trying to defend its right to exist,' President Vladimir Putin said

"Not all fathers are as loving with their children as he is," Lyudmila said. "And he has always spoiled them, while I was the one who had to discipline them."

15. Putin's biographer, Natalya Gevorkyan, who interviewed Putin and his family in 1999, told the BBC that his ex-wife was "not a happy woman."

16. In 2017, Putin let slip that he is a grandfather.

President Vladimir Putin announced in mid-September the economic situation in Russia was "normalising" and the worse was over from the series of economic sanctions

Addressing why he does not talk about his family, he said, "Please understand, I don't want them to grow up like some kind of royal princes. I want them to grow up like normal people."

17. Katerina, an accomplished acrobatic dancer, holds a senior position at Moscow State University. She heads a $1.7 billion startup incubator.

18. Katerina was married to Russian billionaire Kirill Shamalov from 2013 to 2018. Their divorce case revealed their net worth was $2 billion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin speaks to China's President Xi Jinping during the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation leaders' summit in Samarkand on September 16, 2022

19. Vladimir Putin's net worth is estimated conservatively at $70 billion.

However, according to the 2016 "Panama Papers" report by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, Putin's assets were hidden behind complex financial schemes organized by his confidantes.

20. In a 2018 official income declaration, Putin was said to own an 800-square-foot apartment in St. Petersburg, two Soviet-era cars and an off-road truck.

Russian President Vladimir Putin makes his annual New Year address to the nation in Moscow

21. According to one of his fierce critics, his wealth is closer to $200 billion.

Bill Browder, an investor in Russia, testified in front of the U.S. Senate in 2017 that he estimated the Russian leader's wealth at around $200 billion in assets.

22. He co-wrote a book called "Judo: History, Theory, Practice."

Russian President Vladimir Putin is facing new allegations by Washington of meddling in foreign elections

Putin enjoys martial arts, including taekwondo and judo. He also practiced sambo, a Russian wrestling technique.

23. Putin has been stripped of his honorary 9th dan black belt by World Taekwondo.

The International Judo Federation also suspended Putin's status as its honorary president and ambassador last February.

24. In 2002, Putin and then-U.S. President George W. Bush signed the Moscow Treaty, or the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT).

Russian President Vladimir Putin and U.S. President George W. Bush, along with first ladies Lyudmila Putin and Laura Bush, are pictured in Russia in 2002. Reuters

This treaty required each country to reduce its stockpiles of strategic nuclear warheads in ten years.

25. In December 2007, Time magazine named Putin Person of the Year.

According to Reuters, the Person of the Year is "the person the editors believe had the greatest impact on events, for better or worse."

"He's not a good guy, but he's done extraordinary things," said Time managing editor Richard Stengel.

26. He has so far served as Russian president for four terms totaling almost 19 years. He was also the prime minister from 2008 to 2012.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Myanmar's Prime Minister Min Aung Hlaing in Vladivostok

27. In 2021, he signed into law a constitutional amendment that would allow him to seek two more terms after his presidency ends in 2024.

28. He sang "Blueberry Hill" at a children's charity benefit in 2010.

He was accompanied by a jazz orchestra. He also played a Russian song, "Where the Motherland Begins," on the piano, for which he received cheers from a crowd of Hollywood stars.

29. He saved a television crew from a Siberian tiger attack.

What a man: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in one of his famous bare-chested poses from Siberia in 2009
What a man: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in one of his famous bare-chested poses from Siberia in 2009 RIA NOVOSTI via AFP / ALEXEY DRUZHININ

He admitted in 2012 that this 2008 encounter was staged, along with a video of him frolicking with a snow leopard and a few other wildlife stunts, to highlight some endangered species.

"Yes, I know, they were caught before, but the most important thing is to draw public attention to the problem," he said.

30. Putin was featured in an online comic series called "Superputin," which followed the life of a superhero who fought terror and public protest.