Vladimir Putin is more than just the President of Russia. Aside from his politics, the world knows him for lifestyle, actions and the PR image that he has created for himself. He’s described as being a “man’s man” whether he’s hauling massive fish out of rivers shirtless, acting as a spy for the KGB back in the 1980’s, or “saving” a camera crew from a Siberian tiger attack. To his supporters, he’s a true Russian. Here’s an inside look at the life of Vladimir Putin. You’d never guess who Putin’s “real pals” are.
He Has A Black Belt In Judo
Photo Credits: CNN
As a young man, Vladimir Putin was developing slightly slower than some of the other boys his same age. So, in order to prevent being bullied, he began practicing judo. He started at the age of 14 and earned a black belt by the time he was 18. To this day, he still practices the martial art and believes that it’s a practice that can teach people how to treat one another with respect, even if they are an opponent. Putin has been known to practice with other world leaders such as Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Mongolian President Khaltmaa Buttulga.
Putin’s Obsession With Spies
Upon graduation from Saint Petersburg State University in 1975, he was recruited by the KGB and studied at KGB school No.1 Moscow. It is noted that before he even finished school he was interested in intelligence and in the 1980’s he helped the Soviet secret police spy on the West. This is particularly interesting considering the fascination and obsession that he was with spy novels. In a quote about his love for these novels he notes, “What amazes me most of all is how one man’s effort could achieve what whole armies could not.”
A Less Than Normal Divorce Announcement
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Putin and his wife Lyudmila announced their divorce on public Russian state television while attending a ballet performance in 2013. They noted that it was a mutual decision and that they barely even see each other anymore, and that “each of us has our own life.” Putin and Lyudmila were married in 1983, but Putin’s amount of work and Lyudmila’s distaste for being in the public eye began to cause a rift. Although the two are still close and note that they always will be, they agreed it would just be better for the two of them to be separated.
Using His Dogs As A Tactic
Photo Credit: Getty Images
Vladimir Putin adores his three dogs Buffy, Yume, and Verni so much that he takes them almost everywhere he goes. Back in 2007, Putin was accused of scaring the German Chancellor Angela Merkel with them as an intimidation tactic. In a diplomatic meeting discussing Russia supplying energy to Germany, Putin brought his black labrador along with him, aware that Angela was afraid of them after being attacked as a child. Although this can not be proven to be true, it would have been a relatively innocent yet effective tactic on Putin’s part.
A “Supposed” Discovery
In 2011, while scuba diving in the Black Sea for recreation, Putin supposedly discovered Greek vases that dated all the way back to 6th Century BCE. However, just two months later, it was discovered that the vases had already been discovered for some time and that the archeologists were paid to put the vases where they were so Putin would think that he found them. The archeologist that planted them admitted that it was not an uncommon thing for some to do in order to allow someone to feel the experience of a discovery.
Putin And The Night Wolves
Vladimir Putin also has a long-standing relationship with Russia’s biggest motorcycle club The Night Wolves. The gang are huge supporters of Putin and have a very strong nationalist sentiment, and are known to have fought on the side of the pro-Russian side during the Crimean Crisis and the war in Donbass. Putin regards them as friends and frequently appears at their motorcycle rallies, riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle trike as well. The Night Wolves are sometimes even referred to as Putin’s “Hell’s Angels” due to their nationalism and pride for Russia. They are heavily interested in the political and social state of Russia and make strides to engage the youth. Keep reading to see how Putin really knows his way around the Russian government!
Lucky to Have Not Been Born Yet
Before Putin was born, his mother Maria survived the Siege of Leningrad by Finnish and German troops between the years of 1941 and 1944. During the time of the siege, the supplies to Leningrad were cut off, leaving the people of the city to fend for themselves. The siege is described as the longest and most destructive siege in history and possibly with the most casualties. With no supplies of food and temperatures reaching -22 °F, people resorted to cannibalism. Over one million civilians died during that time including Putin’s older brother. If Putin had been born he surely would have died as well.
Growing Up In The Slums Of Russia
Not growing up wealthy by any means, Putin was born to a Soviet family in Leningrad, Russia which is now Saint Petersburg. He lived in a cramped and uncomfortable communal apartment block with his parents, siblings, as well as three other families. Living in slum-like conditions, described as being almost lawless, one of his daily duties was to hunt and kill the rats plaguing the stairwells of the communal living space. Definitely not a job expected of most children, it may explain a lot about his policies, expectations, and worldview. It’s also a foreshadowing of his future work as a spy in the KGB.
Putin The Firefighter
Photo Credits: The Guardian
In 2010, there was a massive wildfire in the Ryazan region of Moscow. In order to fight the fire, they were utilizing fire-fighting planes to fly overhead and drop water onto the fire below. Putin insisted that he was involved in the action and copiloted one of the helicopters himself. Essentially, all he did was press the release button to drop the water, but it was good for morale and definitely fit his images of a “man’s man”. It is noted that he originally piloted the plane, yet as soon as the plane was off the ground he switched to the co-pilot seat as part of publicity stunt.
Putin Has Daughters?
Photo Credits: New York Post
Very few people actually know that Vladimir Putin has two daughters- Maria (30) and Katerina (29). Both were born in Dresden, East Germany in the mid-1980’s. Putin noted that “They both live in Russia and have not lived anywhere other than Russia permanently.” It is rumored that Maria is a medical student, and Katerina is a dancer. Other than that, there is not much information about either of the girls because Putin states, “I never discuss questions related to my family. They are not involved in business or politics”. Both daughters have been off limits to Russian media for years, and a family photo has never been produced.
Constitutional Loophole: President For 24 Years?
ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
Originally, Putin served as the Russian President from 2000 to 2008 and was then unable to serve a third term due to Russian constitutional constraints, much like the United States. However, while serving as Prime Minister between 2008 and 2012, he ran for the presidency again because although the constitution forbids more than two consecutive terms, it allows for more if they are non-consecutive.
So, after a four-year break, he returned to the presidency where he is now allowed to serve another two full terms. Smooth move, Putin. Also during his time as the Prime Minister, the constitution was altered, changing the presidential term from four to six years, allowing him to act as President for even longer. If he runs for re-election in 2018 and wins, he could potentially spend 24 years as the President of Russia.
Putin The Performer
In December 2010, Putin astounded the Russian public by singing Fats Domino’s “Blue Hill” at a charity event in St Petersburg. If that wasn’t surprising enough, he also went on to play the Soviet-era tune “From Where The Motherland Begins” on the piano, although he figured that he should call it quits after missing a few notes. This was yet another tactic for him to win the hearts of the people of Russia. Although the event took place in St Petersburg there were other celebrities there such as Kevin Costner, Gerard Depardieu, and Sharon Stone. Check out Putin’s grandfather’s connection with the Russian government in the next slide!
Descendant Of A Master Cook
As it turns out, the Putin’s have been involved in government long before Vladimir’s rise to power. Well, sort of. Putin’s grandfather Spiridon Ivanovich Putin was a cook for the Bolshevik leader Vladimir Lenin when he would stay at his country house. Apparently, he was a decent enough cook, because after Lenin had died, Spiridon went on to continue to cook for Joseph Stalin at his numerous vacation homes around the region. We wonder if maybe Lenin vouched for Spiridon’s skill, but he probably never thought his cook’s grandson would be the president of Russia.
In 2008, Putin was surveying the Ussuri nature reserve in Eastern Russia while raising awareness for the endangerment of the Siberian tiger. Supposedly, during the excursion, a Siberian tiger charged Putin and the camera crew in which Putin calmly and bravely sedated the cat with a tranquilizer dart. Although this all seems very heroic and Putin-esque, the actual story of this situation has been taken with a grain of salt by some. However, the fact that this is still a circulating story true or not is a testament to the image that Putin has created for himself.
A Nervous English Speaker
Photo: MIKHAIL KLIMENTYEV/AFP/Getty Images
Putin is well known for being fluent in German, as seen in his discussions with Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany. He became comfortable speaking German when he was stationed in Eastern Germany as a KGB agent. However, he is much less confident and almost nervous when he forced to speak English. Although he does have some conversations in English, for the most part, he avoids speaking English publicly. It wouldn’t be very much like Putin to not have confidence when speaking to the public.
It’s no secret that Russians that love Putin LOVE him. So, in order to show their support and dedication, there are numerous products that can be bought that have been named or designed after him. There are Putin T-shirts with his face on them, Putinka Vodka, PuTin canned food, and even Gorbusha Putina caviar. The list goes on and on. In the United States, it’s unlikely we will be seeing any Trump Tuna or Donald Beer anytime soon, but that’s one of the things that differentiates our two nations. The closest thing we have are the unmissable red “Make America Great Again” hats.
Relationship With The Church
Photo Credits: Vladimir Putin
Putin was born and raised as a devout Orthodox Christian and strictly follows its teachings, especially the ones that some may consider being rather harsh. It has been noted that Putin believes that same-sex marriage is equally as terrible as Satan-worshipping. He has publicly stated in 2013 that Russia should stay clear of countries that are “going away from their roots” and in 2016 signed an “anti-extremism” law that essentially outlaws minority “foreign” religions. In 2012, Putin was even honored in Bethlehem in which a street was then named after him. That doesn’t happen every day.
The Richest Man In The World
Photo: MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images
For a brief period of time, it looked as though the CEO of Amazon.com Inc. founder Jeff Bezos was the richest man in the world after dethroning Bill Gates. However, according to Bill Browder, the CEO of Hermitage Capital Management, neither of them are the world’s richest men. He notes that the world’s richest man is worth more than both of those two men combined, and that man is Vladimir Putin. Although his exact net worth is unknown, Browder notes that Putin has numerous operations in effect, and has been amassing his fortune over the years. From hunting rats in a communal apartment to the richest man in the world, that’s quite impressive.
Putin’s Questionable Affairs
In 2012, there were rumors going around that Putin was having an affair with the spy Anna Chapman. She was arrested in 2010 in the United States on espionage charges and is regarded as the “sexy” spy. However, this may all just be a farce considering the perfect story with Putin being an ex-spy, and Chapman is a well-known sex symbol and a spy as well. Furthermore, Putin is also alleged to have relations with the Olympic gold medalist gymnast Alina Kabaeva. Although their relationship is clouded, the discussion concerning the two dates all the way back to 2008, when Putin was still married.
The 12 Labors Of Putin
Photo Credits: Getty Images
In 2014, on Putin’s 62nd birthday he was gifted an art collection by an artist which were images of the “12 Labors of Putin”. These 12 labors were essentially an ode to the 12 labors of the legend of Hercules from Greek mythology. However, instead of Hercules fighting a lion or Medusa, it’s Putin himself doing similar acts against his current enemies. For example, shooting down fighter planes using a bow and arrow, or grappling with the hydra with the four heads standing for the EU, US, Europe, and Japan. The artists choose to remain anonymous, but it’s quite the birthday present!
He Banned Adopting Russian Children
Photo Credits: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images
In 2012, President Barack Obama signed the Magnitsky Act, which was a law that forces travel and financial restrictions on people in Russia who are suspected of human rights violations. The law was named after Sergey Magnitsjy, a lawyer who died questionably in 2009 after finding evidence of tax fraud by Russian officials. This didn’t sit well with Putin who reacted by signing a bill that banned US citizens from adopting Russian children. In addition, the bill also bans United States-funded civic groups from working in Russia. If that wasn’t enough, in 2014, he then signed a decree that bans food and agricultural import from countries that have sanctions against Russia.
FBI Investigation Against Russia
Photo Credits: JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images
On January 25, 2016, Putin was dragged into a serious dilemma when the FBI announced that it had launched an investigation into the hacking of the Democratic National Committee’s computer system. The statement does not specifically name Russia as a primary suspect, but US officials told CNN that they believe the attack was linked to Russia. Then, in September 2016, Putin denied that the Russian government had any involvement in the hacking. Yet, on January 6, 2017, The Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a declassified report stating that Putin ordered an “influence campaign” aimed at Hillary Clinton and helping Donald Trump.
First Time Meeting Trump
Photo Credits: Mikhail Metzel\TASS via Getty Images
In July of 2017, Trump and Putin met in person for the first time at the G20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany. The leaders had a two-hour meeting where they discussed several issues including the allegations about Russia tinkering with the United States presidential elections and the war in Syria. They were also seen talking together informally while at dinner with the other heads of state that same evening. Although their meeting was supposed to end the suspicions about Russia’s involvement in the US election, it didn’t work out that way, and for some, did the exact opposite.
Guess What? He’s Running For President Again
Photo Credits: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
In Moscow, on December 6, 2017, Vladimir Putin announced that he would be running for a fourth term as president of Russia. The election will take place in March of 2018, and he’s expected to win without any hitches. With this win, another full six-year term until 2024 would make his 24-year run the longest position held since Joseph Stalin who sat in the Kremlin for 29 years. Many believe that Putin is going to use this term to make constitutional changes in order to stop further constitutional changes so he can keep his status as one of the most influential and longest rulers in Russian history.
He Can Add Underwater Explorer To His Resume
Photo Credits: ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
Putin is fond of taking the road less traveled and is always utilizing his position of power to find himself in experiences that the common man probably won’t ever be able to do. On August 18, 2015, Putin took a ride in a mini-sub in order to explore the ruins of a 10th-century Byzantine trading ship. He did this casually when he was visiting Crimea, which was annexed by Russia the year prior. This wasn’t his first rodeo either, as, in 2013, he dove in a submersible in the Gulf of Finland in order to explore the remains of a naval frigate shipwreck beneath the water.
Putin’s Apple Watch
Photo Credits: The Verge
Back in 2015, a gold-plated Apple Watch with the signature of Vladimir Putin was released to the public. For just $3,000, you too could be as stylish as the Russian president and show your unwavering support. The watch is produced by the Russian-Italian jewelry brand Caviar Perna Penna and costs 197,000 rubles which is around $3,000. The company described the watch as being “the best form of patriotism”, yet the production was halted after Putin spokesperson Dimitri Peskov announced that the Presiden didn’t approve of his likeness being used by manufacturers for personal gain in their business. The watch coined the “Putinwatch” is limited to 999 units and can be seen worn by top managers of corporations in Moscow.
Putin Likes Going Fast
Photo Credits: ALEXEY DRUZHININ/AFP/Getty Images
It’s clear that Putin is not the person to shy away from much, especially when it involves high speeds. So, he jumped on the opportunity to help establish F1 racing tas a sport in Russia. In 2010, he signed a deal with the F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone to bring F1 racing into the country for seven seasons from 2014 to 2020 in Sochi. Of course, however, bringing the sport into the country wasn’t enough and Putin had to try his own hand at it. Just one more unusual but not surprising activity that the President of Russia can cross off of his bucket list.
Putin Is A Big Watch Guy
Photo Credits: Vice
Vladimir Putin is obviously doing relatively well financially, and watches are something that he doesn’t mind spending money or showing off. The most expensive watch in his collection is from A. Lange & Söhne and is estimated to be around $500,000. The company describes it as being a “peerless masterpiece”. His entire watch collection is estimated to be around $700,000. Another favorite of his is the white gold watches of Patek Phillipe whose slogan is “You never actually own a Patek Phillipe. You merely look after it for the next generation.” Putin is also known for giving out watches to strangers just because he can and because they have become a symbol of his power.
He Prefers Russian Made Cars
Photo Credits: VLADIMIR RADIONOV/AFP/Getty Images
Unsurprisingly, Vladimir Putin prefers Russian made cars, something that isn’t often discussed among car buffs. He is known to drive around in his yellow Lada Kalina, and ivory-colored 1956 Volga GAZ-21, and a black Niva. He’s known to take other politicians on drives in his cars and even let President George W. Bush drive the Volga while visiting Russia for diplomatic purposes. However, he also owns non-Russian made cars such as an armored Mercedes S 600 Gaurd Pullman and a Mercedes Geländewagen. Quite the collection. Maybe he’ll eventually start giving vars away to strangers too.
Putin Makes Up Sayings Because He Can
Photo Credits: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Because he’s Vladimir Putin, he has become accustomed to creating sayings that haven’t ever existed before he said them. These phrases have been come to know as “Putinisms” and it’s better to just turn a blind eye rather than question what he’s talking about. The Putinisms usually come about during his annual Q&A sessions in which he answers questions from anyone across the country. One particular Putinism that stands out when he was asked why he didn’t extradite the US whistleblower Edward Snowden in 2013. He replied by saying that he wouldn’t respond on the issue because “it’s like shearing a pig-lots of squeal but little wool.”
Photo Credits: Wired
Of course, there’s even a comic book character of a superhero version of Putin. While most dictators only have statues and works of art made of them, Putin has all of that, and this too. Rissian writer Sergei Kalenik created the webcomic that portrays Russia’s president as a judo fighting “Superputin”. The comic is inspired by the film Speed as Putin must stop a bomb from detonating on a bus if it falls under 50 mph. Superputin also has to face zombies, and other forces, a strange but somewhat effective way to promote nationalism and raise support for Russia’s leader.
He’s Killer At Hockey
Photo Credits: Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images
Once again, Putin proved to the world that he is no ordinary leader when he stepped onto the ice in May of 2017 to display his rather good hockey skills. At 64 years old, he played in a gala ice hockey match in Sochi and even scored six goals in the exhibition game or the Night Hockey League. Moments before the game, in an interview, he continued to deny the allegations against him and the US presidential election, with most of his focus on the game at hand. Although once again, a rather unusual sport for a leader to play while still in office, it isn’t for Putin.
Putin Is A Big Fan Of The Beatles
Photo Credits: MAXIM MARMUR/AFP/Getty Images
Though some may think that Putin isn’t the type to get down to some music, they would be wrong. We already know that he’s a fan of his own music and performances, but it turns out that Putin is a lover of the Beatles. Paul McCartney is the favorite of the group and the song “Yesterday” is his favorite track from their discography. So, not only does Putin hold the British pop-rock group close to his heart, but his favorite song is the soft and nostalgic song “Yesterday”? Looks like Putin has a soft spot that he doesn’t want many to know exists.
Comments About the Soviet Union
Photo Credits: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
Apparently, Putin also isn’t shy to voice his opinions about the Soviet Union. At one point, he infamously commented on the dissolving of the Soviet Union as “the greatest geographical catastrophe of the 20th Century”. He even adopted the old anthem of the USSR and updated the lyrics so that it couldn’t be called the same song. However, it’s not the communism that he was a fan of. On communism, in 1999, he states that it is “A blind alley, far away from the mainstream of civilization”.
He Collected Saliva From Muslim Women
Photo Credits: Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images
Before the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics, Russia took extra precaution and ramped up their security, to the point that it was ethically highly questionable. Putin ordered for Russian officials to take saliva samples from orthodox Muslim women in Dagestan in order to gather their DNA.This way, on the off chance that one of them would perform a suicide bombing, they could be identified. Russia put this plan into action after a suicide attack in October 2013 when a Dagestani woman killed six people an wounded 30. She was a member of the suicide bombers the Black Widows which Putin feared before the start of the winter games.
Photo Credits: TR/AFP/Getty Images
Over the course of his career, a lot of different works of art, statues, and other things have been having been made in the name of Putin, and that includes movies. Putin has had not one, not two, not three, but thirteen films made about him, 12 of which are documentaries. Clearly, Putin is doing something of note if there are this many films made just about him. Some people are lucky to just have one movie about them, but that would never be enough for Putin or his people, so instead, he has 13. We wonder if he’s had the time to sit down and watch them all.
He’s Freinds With Steven Seagal
Photo Credits: ALEXEI NIKOLSKY/AFP/Getty Images
Apparently, Vladimir Putin is a big fan of American action movie star Steven Seagal. So much in fact, that Seagal received his Russian citizenship under a presidential decree in 2016. The two are both lovers of martial arts and Seagal has hosted multiple martial arts demonstrations in Russia in recent years. Seagal even attended the 2012 Olympics in London and met the Russian Judo team with Putin. The two also get along so well because they both enjoy putting their masculinity on display for all to see. Somehow, because of his connections with Putin, Seagal has become a diplomat of some sorts with Putin suggesting that Seagal become an “honorary consul”, for which the United States responded, “You’ve got to be kidding me”.
He “Stole” Robert Kraft’s Super Bowl Ring
back in 2005, owner of the United States football team the Patriots met with Putin when the most peculiar thing happened. As it turns out Putin stole his $25,000 Super Bowl ring after Kraft showed it to him. Although Kraft told the press for years that he had given the ring to him, in reality, Putin took it without asking. Kraft stated that he handed Putin the ring, and after a brief conversation about how Putin could kill someone with the ring, he put it in his pocket, and three KGB gaurds surrounded him and they all walked out. So, instead of causing a scene, he let Putin have the ring after he was insisted by the White House to do so.
Putin Doesn’t Like Protestors
Photo Credits: by Rick Kern/WireImage
P**sy Riot is a Russian feminist punk rock group based in Moscow. They were founded in 2011 and are known to stage provocative guerrilla performances in public places that are then filmed as music videos or posted on the internet for awareness. They speak for feminism, support for the LGBT community, and an opposition for Putin. So, when they staged a protest at an Orthodox Church against Putin in Russia in 2012, the three prominent members were arrested, denied bail, charged for a series of crimes, and sentenced to two years of imprisonment. Due o international outcries, the three were released just before the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Using Poison As A Weapon
Photo Credits: Natasja Weitsz/Getty Images
Alexander Litvinenko was a former officer of the Russian Security Service and KGB, who fled from prosecution in Russia and received political asylum in the United Kingdon. However, on November 6, 2006, he fell ill and hospitalized and died three weeks later. He was the first confirmed victim of lethal polonium-210-induced acute radiation syndrome. On his deathbed, he made accusations about the wrongdoings of the FSB and claimed that Vladimir Putin was behind his poisoning. These accusations received worldwide media coverage yet there was never enough evidence to prove anything.