Five Things to Know About Vladimir Putin
With less than a month to go until the start of the 2014 Winter Olympic games in Sochi, Russia, George Stephanopoulos sat down with Russian President Vladimir Putin for an exclusive interview that will air in full on Sunday on "This Week." Currently serving his third term as president, Putin has been in American and international headlines a lot in the past year - even earning the superlative of World's Most Powerful from Forbes Magazine. Here are five things to know about Russia's mysterious leader.
1.) He worked as a spy. From 1985-1990 Putin worked for the Soviet version of the CIA, the KGB. Stationed in East Germany, Putin's job was to recruit other agents (among other things probably.) In the late 1990's after he began to work in the Kremlin under then President Boris Yeltsin, Putin was named as the Director of the Federal Security Service, which is the main successor to the KGB. When he was appointed in this role in 1998 the Moscow Times described Putin as a "little-known by loyal functionary from the Kremlin administration."
2.) He has essentially ruled over Russia for over a decade. Putin first officially took the presidency on Dec. 31, 1999 when he became acting president upon the resignation of Boris Yeltsin. Putin was officially elected several months later, in March 2000, and officially ruled as president until May 2008, when he was required to step down due to term limits. However, the man who followed him as president, Dmitry Medvedev, was Putin's protege, and Putin remained in power as prime minister. It was widely believed that during the years Medvedev was president, Putin was still the one pulling the strings. Putin was reelected president in 2012.
3.) He is tough, and could probably take you in a fight. Putin has a black belt in judo, and describes himself as a "bully" when he was a child. He also appears to have a fondness for being photographed shirtless.
4.) He's an academic. Putin studied law at Leningrad State University and obtained a PhD in economics from the same institution. In the 1990s he also worked as assistant rector of the university for a time.
5.) He's interested in watching a variety of Olympic sporting events. Putin told Olympic volunteers on Friday that wanted to attend figure skating, ice hockey, alpine skiing and biathlon competitions during the 2014 Olympic games, although noted that whether he's able to or not will depend on his work schedule.