In 1999, Russian president Boris Yeltsin dismissed his prime minister and promoted former KGB officer Vladimir Putin in his place. In December 1999, Yeltsin resigned, appointing Putin president, and he was re-elected in 2004. In April 2005, he made a historic visit to Israel—the first visit there by any Kremlin leader. Putin could not run for the presidency again in 2008, but was appointed prime minister by his successor, Dmitry Medvedev. Putin was re-elected to the presidency in March 2012. In 2014, he was reportedly nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Early Political CareerVladimir Vladimirovich Putin was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia, on October 7, 1952. After graduating from Leningrad State University in 1975, he began his career in the KGB as an intelligence officer. Stationed mainly in East Germany, he held that position until 1989.
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, Putin retired from the KGB with the rank of colonel, and returned to Leningrad as a supporter of Anatoly Sobchak (1937-2000), a liberal politician. After Sobchak won election as mayor of Leningrad (1991), Putin became his head of external relations; in 1994, Putin became Sobchak's first deputy mayor.
After Sobchak's defeat in 1996, Putin resigned his post and moved to Moscow. In 1998, Putin was appointed deputy head of management under Boris Yeltsin's presidential administration. In that position, he was in charge of the Kremlin's relations with the regional governments.
Shortly afterward, Putin was appointed head of the Federal Security, an arm of the former KGB, as well as head of Yeltsin's Security Council. In August 1999, Yeltsin dismissed his then-prime minister Sergey Stapashin, along with his cabinet, and promoted Putin in his place.
President of Russia: 1st and 2nd TermsIn December 1999, Boris Yeltsin resigned as president of Russia and appointed Putin acting president until official elections were held (in early 2000). In September 2001, in response to the terrorist attacks on the United States, he announced Russia's stance as a U.S. ally. Soon after, however, he announced his opposition—along with the French and German governments—to the U.S. "war on terror," which focused on ridding Iraq of its then-leader, Saddam Hussein.
Putin was re-elected to the presidency in 2004. In April 2005, he made a historic visit to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon—marking the first visit to Israel by any Kremlin leader.
Due to term limits, Putin could not run for the presidency again in 2008. (That same year, presidential terms in Russia were extended from four to six years.) When his protégé Dmitry Medvedev succeeded him as president in March 2008, Putin secured the post of Russia's prime minister, continuing his position among the top Russian leadership after eight years at the helm. It wouldn't be long before Putin was back at the helm, however.
Third Term as President
On March 4, 2012, Vladimir Putin was re-elected to the presidency, and he was inaugurated to his third term as Russia's president on May 7, 2012. Soon after taking office, he nominated Medvedev as prime minister.In December 2012, Putin signed into a law a ban on the U.S. adoption of Russian children. According to Putin, the legislation—which took effect on January 1, 2013—aimed to make it easier for Russians to adopt native orphans. The adoption ban spurred international controversy,
reportedly leaving nearly 50 Russian children—who were in the final phases of adoption with U.S. citizens at the time that Putin signed the law—in legal limbo.
Putin further strained relations with the United States the following year. U.S. President Barack Obama canceled a meeting with Putin that August. Obama called off his visit to Russia in reaction to Putin granting asylum to Edward Snowden. Snowden is wanted by the United States for leaking classified information from the National Security Agency.
Around this time, Putin also upset many people with his new anti-gay laws. He made it illegal for gay couples to adopt in Russia and placed a ban on propagandizing "nontraditional" sexual relationships to minors. There were calls to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, because of Putin's violations of human rights.