Russian leader Vladimir Putin was born in 1952 in St. Petersburg (then known as Leningrad). After graduating from Leningrad State University, Putin began his career in the KGB as an intelligence officer in 1975. Putin rose to the top ranks of the Russian government after joining President Boris Yeltsin’s administration in 1998, becoming prime minister in 1999 before taking over as president. Putin was again appointed Russian prime minister in 2008, and retained his hold on power by earning reelection to the presidency in 2012.

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