Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, he retired from the KGB with the rank of colonel, and returned to Leningrad as a supporter of Anatoly Sobchak (1937-2000), a liberal politician. On the latter’s election as mayor of Leningrad (1991), Putin became his head of external relations and first deputy mayor (1994).
After Sobchak’s defeat in 1996, Putin resigned his post and moved to Moscow. In 1998 he was appointed deputy head of management in Boris Yeltsin’s presidential administration, in charge of the Kremlin’s relations with the regional governments.
Shortly afterwards, he was appointed head of the Federal Security, an arm of the former KGB, and head of Yeltsin’s Security Council. In August 1999 Yeltsin dismissed his prime minister Sergey Stapashin together with his cabinet, and promoted Putin in his place.
In December 1999 Yeltsin resigned as president, appointing Putin acting president until official elections were held (in early 2000). He was re-elected in 2004. In April 2005 he made a historic visit to Israel for talks with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the first visit there by any Kremlin leader.
Due to term limits, Putin was forced to leave the presidency in 2008, but not before securing the office for his protege Dmitry Medvedev. Putin served as Medvedev’s prime minster until 2012, when he was reelected as Russia’s president.
Biography courtesy of BIO.com