Russian President Vladimir Putin

Updated 1:08 PM ET, Mon December 30, 2019
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Russian President Vladimir Putin is a popular but polarizing figure who has dominated Russian politics since he was first elected in 2000. See more photos from his life and career. YURI KOCHETKOV/Getty Images
Putin poses for a class photo in 1960. He was born October 7, 1952, in what is now St. Petersburg, Russia. Laski Diffusion/Getty Images
Putin dances with a classmate during a party in 1970. Laski Diffusion/Getty Images
Putin, bottom, wrestles with a classmate in 1971. He went on to study law at Leningrad State University, and in 1975 he joined the KGB, a Soviet-era spy agency. Laski Diffusion/Getty Images
Putin poses with his parents, Vladimir and Maria, in 1985. A year earlier, he was selected to attend the Red Banner Institute of Intelligence, where he learned German and English. Laski Diffusion/Newsmakers/Getty Images
From 1991 to 1994, Putin served as the chairman of St. Petersburg's Foreign Relations Committee. He also served as the city's deputy mayor. Here, Putin stands with St. Petersburg Mayor Anatoly Sobchak during a ceremony in September 1992. Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images
Putin rose quickly through the political ranks. Here, he gives flowers to Russian President Boris Yeltsin during a farewell ceremony in Moscow in December 1999. Yeltsin, Russia's first democratically elected president, was resigning from office. Putin, his prime minister, was appointed acting president until the election, which Putin won several months later. AFP/Getty Images
President-elect Putin watches Russia's Northern Fleet conduct tactical exercises in the Barents Sea in April 2000. AFP/Getty Images
Putin shakes hands with British Prime Minister Tony Blair after a news conference in London in April 2000. ADRIAN DENNIS/Getty Images
Putin dances with a young girl in Kazan, Russia, while taking part in midsummer festivities in June 2000. Laski Diffusion/Newsmakers/Getty Images
Putin and US President Bill Clinton talk in Moscow in June 2000. Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images
Putin is welcomed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Il after arriving in Pyongyang in July 2000. Russia is one of the few countries that has diplomatic relations with North Korea. ITAR-TASS/Getty Images
Putin speaks to his wife, Lyudmila, as they pose in front of the Taj Mahal in India in October 2000. They were married for 30 years before their divorce was finalized in 2014. They have two daughters together. John Macdougall/AFP/Getty Images
Putin listens to US President George W. Bush during a visit to the White House in November 2001. A few months later, the two signed a treaty to reduce and limit their strategic nuclear warheads. Mike Theiler/Getty Images
Putin watches honor guards march at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier during a wreath-laying ceremony in Moscow in June 2003. MAXIM MARMUR/Getty Images
Putin leaves in an open carriage with Britain's Queen Elizabeth II during a ceremonial welcome in London in June 2003. NICOLAS ASFOURI/Getty Images
Putin pets his dog Kuni as he addresses journalists with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in January 2007. Merkel, reportedly fearful of dogs since one attacked her in 1995, was photographed looking distinctly uncomfortable when Putin brought his large black Labrador into the meeting in Sochi, Russia. Years later, he told the German newspaper Bild he had no intention of intimidating Merkel. "When I found out that she doesn't like dogs, of course I apologized," he said. Alex Schmidt/Getty Images
In 2008, Putin had finished two terms and was constitutionally obliged to stand down as president. But he stayed close to power, becoming prime minister after Dmitry Medvedev, center, was elected to be his successor. VLADIMIR RODIONOV/Getty Images
Putin shakes hands with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi in November 2008. Alexey Druzhinin/AFP/Getty Images
Putin takes part in a judo training session at a St. Petersburg athletics school in December 2009. Putin holds a black belt in judo. ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
Putin officiates an arm-wrestling contest as he visits a youth educational forum near Russia's Lake Seliger in August 2011. Mikhail Metzel/AP
Putin and Medvedev attend a session of the State Council in Moscow in December 2011. A few months later, Putin was re-elected president and Medvedev became his prime minister. Klimentyev Mikhail/ABACA/Newscom
During a rally in Moscow, tears run down Putin's face after he was elected president for a third term in March 2012. Ivan Sekretarev/AP
Putin plays with his dogs Yume, left, and Buffy at his home in Novo-Ogaryovo, Russia, in March 2013. AFP/AFP/AFP/Getty Images
Putin and Dutch Queen Beatrix share a toast after unveiling a plaque at the Hermitage Amsterdam museum in April 2013. It's a branch of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. Peter Dejong/AP
A topless protester shouts at Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel during a visit to central Germany in April 2013. That month, Putin defended his government's record on free speech and rejected a claim that it uses "Stalinist" methods to clamp down on critics and activists. Two international rights groups had issued scathing reports on Putin's presidency, saying changes to the law had helped authorities stifle dissent. Jochen Lbke/Getty Images
Putin fishes in Russia's Tuva region during a vacation in July 2013. For years, Putin has cultivated a populist image in the Russian media. ALEXEY DRUZHININ/Getty Images
Putin arrives to watch a military exercise in Russia's Leningrad region in March 2014. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/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. Russia hosted the Olympics that year. Dmitry Astakhov/ITAR-TASS/Landov
Putin controls the puck during an ice hockey game between Russian amateur players and ice hockey stars at a festival in Sochi, Russia, in May 2014. RIA-Novosti, Alexei Druzhinin, Presidential Press Service/AP
US President Barack Obama shares a toast with Putin at a luncheon in New York hosted by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in September 2015. "Amid the inevitable trials and setbacks, may we never relax in our pursuit of progress and may we never abandon the pursuit of peace," Obama said before clinking glasses. "Cheers." The two, bitterly at odds over issues in Ukraine and Syria, had a closed-door meeting later in the day. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Putin sits in a bathyscape as it plunges into the Black Sea in August 2016. He went underwater to see the wreckage of an ancient merchant ship that was found earlier in the year. Alexei Nikolsky/AP
Putin exercises at a Black Sea resort in Sochi in August 2016. Mikhail Klimentyev/AP
Putin shakes hands with US President Donald Trump as they meet on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Germany in July 2017. They talked for more than two hours, discussing interference in US elections and ending with an agreement on curbing violence in Syria. Evan Vucci/AP
Putin and Medvedev speak while visiting the New Jerusalem Orthodox Monastery outside the town of Istra, Russia, in November 2017. YEKATERINA SHTUKINA/AFP/Getty Images
Putin shakes hands with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad during their meeting in Sochi in May 2018. MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images
Putin stands with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, left, and French President Emmanuel Macron, right, after the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow. France defeated Croatia in the final. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Putin hands Trump a World Cup soccer ball after their July 2018 summit in Helsinki, Finland. Chris McGrath/Getty Images
Putin surveys the Sayano-Shushensky Nature Reserve in Siberia in August 2018. Alexei Nikolsky/TASS via Getty Images
Putin and Saudi Arabia's Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman attend the G20 summit in Buenos Aires in November 2018. LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP/Getty Images
Putin welcomes North Korean leader Kim Jong Un before their talks in Vladivostok, Russia, in April 2019. ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images
Pope Francis exchanges gifts with Putin as Putin visited Vatican City in July 2019. Vatican Pool/Getty Images
Putin poses with the leaders of African countries who visited Sochi to attend a Russia-Africa Summit and Economic Forum in October 2019. Alexei Druzhinin/Sputnik/AFP/Getty Images