Europe

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Updated 6:08 PM ET, Fri March 13, 2015
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is a popular but polarizing figure who has dominated Russian politics for more than a decade. Click through to see images of his life and career. MAXIM SHIPENKOV/AFP/Getty Images
Putin, bottom, wrestles with a classmate in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1971. Laski Diffusion/Getty Images
Putin poses with his parents, Vladimir and Maria, in 1985. Laski Diffusion/Newsmakers/Getty Images
From 1991 to 1994, Putin served as the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the City Council in St. Petersburg. Before becoming involved in politics, he served in the KGB, a Soviet-era spy agency, as an intelligence officer. Sergey Kompaniychenko/Reuters/Landov
Russian President Boris Yeltsin, right, shakes hands with Putin during a farewell ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow in December 1999. Putin rose quickly through the political ranks, becoming the second democratically elected president of the Russian Federation in 2000. AFP/Getty Images
President-elect Putin watches the tactical exercises of Russia's Northern Fleet in the Barentsevo Sea in April 2000. AFP/Getty Images
Putin takes the presidential oath next to Yeltsin in May 2000. AFP/Getty Images
Putin dances with a young girl in Kazan, Russia, while taking part in mid-summer festivities in June 2000. Laski Diffusion/Newsmakers/Getty Images
Putin and U.S. President Bill Clinton talk in Moscow in June 2000. Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images
Putin meets Pope John Paul II in Rome in June 2000. Eric Vandeville/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images
Putin speaks to his wife, Lyudmila, as they pose in front of the Taj Mahal in India in October 2000. John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images
Putin shakes hands with famous Russian gymnasts Alina Kabayeva, center, and Svetlana Khorkina in March 2004. Sergei Chiriko/AFP/Getty Images
Putin attends an inauguration ceremony for President-elect Dmitry Medvedev in May 2008. Putin was constitutionally obliged to stand down as President, but he stayed close to power, becoming Prime Minister. ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images
This image, supplied by Time magazine, shows Putin on the cover after being named the magazine's 2007 "Person of the Year." Courtesy Time
Putin skis in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, in February 2008. Mikhail Klimentye/AFP/Getty Images
Putin shakes hands with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in November 2008. Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images
Putin vacations outside the town of Kyzyl in Southern Siberia in 2009. Over the years he has earned a reputation as a "strongman," declaring a crackdown on Chechen militants a priority in his first presidential term. ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
U.S. President Barack Obama meets Putin at his home in Novo Ogaryovo, near Moscow, in July 2009. Putin said Russia was pinning its hopes on Obama to revive ties with the United States. SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
Medvedev and Putin ski together in Krasnaya Polyana in January 2010. DMITRY ASTAKHOV/AFP/Getty Images
Putin takes part in a judo training session at a sports complex in St. Petersburg in December 2010. Putin holds a black belt in judo. ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
In April 2011, Putin attends the first Global Ministerial Conference on Healthy Lifestyles and Noncommunicable Disease Control. The event was held in Moscow. Mikhael Metzel/AFP/Getty Images
Putin receives a medical consultation in August 2011 during a visit to the Smolensk Regional Hospital in Russia. Putin said he hurt his shoulder during morning judo practice. ALEKSEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
Putin speaks to supporters at a Moscow rally in February 2012. He won the presidential election one month later with just under 65% of the vote. Former President Medvedev became his Prime Minister. YURI KADOBNOV/AFP/Getty Images
During a massive rally of his supporters in Moscow, tears run down Putin's face in March 2012 after he was elected President for a third term. Ivan Sekretarev/AP
A topless protester shouts at Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to the Hanover Industrial Fair in central Germany in April 2013. Human rights groups say civil liberties and democratic freedoms have suffered during Putin's rule. Jochen Lubke/AFP/Getty Images
Putin addresses the media during his visit to Hanover. Sean Gallup/Getty Images
Putin and his wife, Lyudmila -- seen here in 2012 -- announced the end of their marriage in June 2013. ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images
Putin poses for a photo with Russian Olympic athletes in Sochi, Russia, in February 2014. Russia hosted the Winter Olympic Games and won the most medals. Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images
From left, International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach, Putin and Medvedev look at their watches before the closing ceremony of the Winter Olympics in February 2014. Dmitry Astakhov/ITAR-TASS/Landov
Putin, center, and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, left, arrive to watch a March 2014 military exercise at the Kirillovsky firing ground in Russia's Leningrad region. Mikhail Klimentyev/AFP/Getty Images
Putin, left, controls the puck during an ice hockey game between Russian amateur players and ice hockey stars at a festival in Sochi in May 2014. RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service/AP
Putin takes part in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier outside Moscow's Kremlin Wall in June. Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP
Putin speaks with Obama in November, during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Beijing. Kremlin Press Center/Pool/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Putin puts a shawl on Peng Liyuan, wife of Chinese President Xi Jinping, as they arrive to watch a fireworks show in Beijing in November. AP
Several world leaders gather in Minsk, Belarus, in February to negotiate a ceasefire to the fighting in Ukraine. Putin is second from left, next to Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko on the far left. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko is on the far right. At center, German Chancellor Angela Merkel gestures in front of French President Francois Hollande. Fighting between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian rebels in the country has left more than 6,000 people dead since mid-April, according to the United Nations. Mykola Lazarenko/Poo/AP