Vladimir Putin was sworn in for his fourth term as President of Russia on May 7, 2018. Five thousand guests were present to attend his inauguration in the Kremlin. Here are 21 things you should know about the man who has ruled Russia for 18 years, first as Prime Minister and then as President.
Putin was born on October 7, 1952. He grew up in an apartment building in St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad, the Russian city ravaged by World War II. He shared a fifth-floor apartment with his parents and two brothers.
He married Lyudmila Putina, with whom he had two daughters: Mariya Putina and Yekaterina Putina. The girls went to school with aliases for safety reasons. In April 2014, Putin and his wife separated after 31 years of marriage.
An Apple Watch inspired by Putin
The gold-plated Apple Watch, which depicts the silhouette of Moscow and the double-headed eagle of the Russian coat of arms, was produced by Russian-Italian jeweler Caviar Perna Penna and costs 3,073 US dollars (197,000 rubles).
The underwater explorer
On August 18, 2015, the Russian president was photographed while on a mini-submarine tour to explore the sunken wreck of a 10th-century Byzantine merchant ship. Putin was visiting Crimea, annexed by Russia in 2014. He had already made a similar dive aboard a submersible in 2013 to explore the wreck of a frigate in the Gulf of Finland.
The cover of “Time”
Renowned photographer Plato immortalized Poutine for the cover of Time magazine (photo). It was a simple wore, but it nevertheless won him the World Press Photo award in 2008. During the photoshoot, Plato and Poutine discovered that they shared a deep love for the Beatles. Plato would then have spent 2,000 US dollars on telephone costs to share his experience.
The martial arts champion
He started judo in 1964. Becoming a seasoned martial artist, Putin clinched his fifth dan black belt in judo in 2001, then the ninth dan – the highest grade – in taekwondo in 2013 and his eighth dan in karate in 2014.
An athletic politician
Poutine likes to be active: he loves fishing, horse riding, rafting, diving, skiing, and hockey. He also goes to an outdoor gymnasium where he does weight training.
The animal lover
The Russian president is a dog lover. He named his Bulgarian shepherd Buffy (right) after launching a national competition to find him a name. Her other dog, Yume, is an Akita (left). Most of his animals were given to him as gifts, including the Skazka goat, a miniature horse named Vadik and a Siberian tiger.
Links with the KGB
After going to law school, Putin joined the KGB (the main security agency of the Soviet Union before its dissolution in 1991) to rise to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. During this period, he was posted to East Germany to recruit government spies.
Links with Lenin
Putin’s grandfather, Spiridon Ivanovich Poutine, was a chef at Lenin’s country house, before becoming Stalin’s cook. Spiridon died when Putin was 13 years old.
In addition to Russian, Putin is fluent in German, a language he learned in high school. He also acted as interpreter for German Chancellor Angela Merkel during his visit to Russia in 2013. He rarely speaks English but learned the language during his missions with the KGB in Europe.
A powerful campaign
Putin has repeatedly won the approval of Russian citizens. In the elections, he won 53% of the votes in 2000 and 73% in 2004, while his ally Medvedev won 70% of the votes in 2008. According to a poll by the Pew Research Center in June 2017, 87% of Russians trust Putin to handle global problems.
The Russian president misses no opportunity to encourage sport in Russia. In 2010, he signed an agreement with Formula 1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to bring F1 to Russia for a period of seven years, from 2014 to 2020.
A watch lover
Poutine is a big watch lover and his most expensive watch is an A. Lange & Söhne Tourbograph “Pour Le Mérite” worth 500,000 US dollars (photo) with an 18-carat gold case, a silver dial, a crocodile bracelet, and a sapphire glass window. He wears his watches on his right wrist to prevent the crown from rubbing against his wrist.
A love for nature
After tracking down tigers and having his picture taken with polar bears, Putin took his love of nature to another level when he boarded a powered hang glider in the Yamalo-Nenets district, September 5, 2012, in order to guide the Siberian cranes to their migration route.
Putin pushed the note by singing Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill at a charity event in St. Petersburg to an audience of Sharon Stone, Kevin Costner, and Goldie Hawn, among others. His spokesperson said he learned the lyrics in an English class.
Made in Russia
Putin prefers Russian-made cars. He drives a yellow Lada Kalina, an ivory Volga GAZ-21 and a black Niva. During his time as President of the United States, George W. Bush took the wheel of the Volga during one of his visits to Russia. Poutine does, however, own cars made elsewhere, including a Mercedes S 600 Guard Pullman and a Mercedes Geländewagen.
Putin co-piloted a water bomber to extinguish two of the hundreds of forest fires that ravaged western Russia in 2010 (photo). Television reports even showed him pressing the button, which released hundreds of liters of water into the fires.
Poutine, the brand
All over Russia, you can find Putin-style t-shirts in souvenir shops. The Putin brand also lives through Putinka, a vodka distilled by the Moscow Distillery Cristall, Gorbusha Putina caviar and Putin preserves made at the Astrakhan cannery.